'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Friday, February 17, 2006

Abu Ghraib Update: Questions About Salon's Corpus 

Salon claims to have a DVD containing all of the evidence uncovered by the CID during its investigation of the crimes committed at Abu Ghraib:

Salon has obtained files and other electronic documents from an internal Army investigation into the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal. The material, which includes more than 1,000 photographs, videos and supporting documents from the Army's probe, may represent all of the photographic and video evidence that pertains to that investigation. [...]

The source who gave the CID material to Salon is someone who spent time at Abu Ghraib as a uniformed member of the military and is familiar with the CID investigation.

The DVD containing the material includes a June 6, 2004, CID investigation report written by Special Agent James E. Seigmund. That report includes the following summary of the material included: "A review of all the computer media submitted to this office revealed a total of 1,325 images of suspected detainee abuse, 93 video files of suspected detainee abuse, 660 images of adult pornography, 546 images of suspected dead Iraqi detainees, 29 images of soldiers in simulated sexual acts, 20 images of a soldier with a Swastika drawn between his eyes, 37 images of Military Working dogs being used in abuse of detainees and 125 images of questionable acts." [ ... ]

The DVD also includes photographs of guards threatening Iraqi prisoners with dogs, homemade videotapes depicting hooded prisoners being forced to masturbate, and a video showing a mentally disturbed prisoner smashing his head against a door. Oddly, the material also includes numerous photographs of slaughtered animals and mundane images of soldiers traveling around Iraq.

I am skeptical that Salon's DVD is comprehensive. Actually Salon is skeptical as well to some degree; they say it's "not clear" if the DVD is identical to the material that is being sought by the ACLU and others.

There are a couple of claims on the public record, claims for which there are good reasons to believe, of material not encompassed by Salon's above sketch of its DVD's contents: (from an old American Leftist post)

Seymour Hersh had the following to say about the unreleased Abu Ghraib material during a speaking engagement at some ACLU shindig:

Debating about it, ummm ... Some of the worst things that happened you don't know about, okay? Videos, um, there are women there. Some of you may have read that they were passing letters out, communications out to their men. This is at Abu Ghraib ... The women were passing messages out saying 'Please come and kill me, because of what's happened' and basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys, children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. And the worst above all of that is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror. It's going to come out."

Less graphically, here's a bit of the transcript from MSNBC's coverage of Rumsfeld's appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee after the original pictures broke:

[Jim Miklaszewski, NBC Pentagon correspondent (voice-over)]: Rumsfeld then dropped a bomb, revealing that there were more photos, even videos depicting abuses far worse than what has been seen so far.

RUMSFELD: There are other photos that depict incidents of physical violence towards prisoners, acts that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel, and inhuman.

MIKLASZEWSKI: U.S. military officials tell NBC News, the unreleased images, show American soldiers severely beating one Iraqi prisoner to near death; apparently, raping an Iraqi female prisoner; acting inappropriately with a dead body; and Iraqi guards apparently videotaped by U.S. soldiers raping young boys.

(for the above links, see my old post on this subject)

It's possible the above exists but was not uncovered, or was not ... ahem ... officially uncovered by the CID, but assuming the military investigation collected all existing evidence of all crimes at the prison mentioned by informed sources on the public record, one of three things must be true: Hersh and MSNBC were wrong, the Salon corpus is complete; Salon is for some reason mischaracterizing what it possesses; or the Salon corpus is incomplete. If the Salon material is incomplete it is an open question whether the ACLU et al. are on the trail of material of the sort mentioned by Hersh and MSNBC.

The questions are... What happens now? -- Will the Salon material be made publicly available or buried? ... Is the ACLU of the opinion that Salon has everything it is seeking and everything there is to have?

(Also, does anyone else realize that with around two thousand images of torture and corpses you could finally make a digital collage of Rumseld with comparable resolution to the big versions of "War President"? Someone already did a Rumsfeld mosaic back in 2004 after my mosaic broke, and then the ACLU did one or used the first guy's, but there really wasn't enough available material back then ... just saying. Anyway for what it's worth my favorite of the "War President"-copycats was Porn Ashcroft.)

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