Ghosts of Abu Ghraib

What was perhaps the most disgraceful episode in U.S. military history is examined in director Rory Kennedy’s Ghosts of Abu Ghraib. By now there can’t be many folks who aren’t at least somewhat familiar with what went on at that notorious Baghdad prison in 2003, when U.S soldiers abused and mistreated-some would say tortured-Iraqi detainees (every one of whom was eventually released without charges).

Yet while those acts were atrocious and unforgivable, perhaps even more troubling is the philosophy behind them. As Kennedy lays it out, the United States began committing violations of the Geneva Conventions, particularly the ones that prohibit torture, well before the invasion of Iraq and the incarceration of literally thousands of people at the dilapidated Abu Ghraib facility.

Employing the kind of linguistic tap-dancing often used by the Bush administration to justify its actions, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and others defined their captives not as prisoners of war but as “unlawful combatants,” opening the door for the use of such “extreme techniques” as nudity and sexual humiliation, “stress positions” (such as standing on a rickety box wearing a sensory-deprivation hood), and intimidation by vicious dogs; while some photos of these activities have been widely circulated before, many of the shots we see here are much more explicit and, since they’re in color, considerably more lurid.

As for how and why these affronts to basic human dignity were allowed, it’s tough to find anyone actually willing to take responsibility. The guards who did the deeds, several of whom were interviewed for the documentary, say they were under-trained and far too few in number; their superiors say their pleas for additional support were ignored.

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  • commonscold

    OMG! Do people know what went on in that prison when it was under Saddam????? Nakedness and butt pyramids are nothing. Saddam hung people from ceiling fans, held their legs still as the fan turned breaking their backs! Drilling holes in people. Burning with clothes irons. Sticking pipes up butts permanently harming intestines for life. Sticking things down pee holes so whenever they did pee it burned for the rest of their lives! Cut out tongues. Way more grotesque shit. 

    What those men went through is nothing compared to what they put their women through over there. Those poor women are treated as dogs every day of their lives! Those men got a tiny taste of being treated badly.  

  • commonscold

    OMG! Do people know what went on in that prison when it was under Saddam????? Nakedness and butt pyramids are nothing. Saddam hung people from ceiling fans, held their legs still as the fan turned breaking their backs! Drilling holes in people. Burning with clothes irons. Sticking pipes up butts permanently harming intestines for life. Sticking things down pee holes so whenever they did pee it burned for the rest of their lives! Cut out tongues. Way more grotesque shit. 

    What those men went through is nothing compared to what they put their women through over there. Those poor women are treated as dogs every day of their lives! Those men got a tiny taste of being treated badly.  

    • Tbbour

      and that makes what we did okay? pfft.

    • Tbbour

      and that makes what we did okay? pfft.

    • http://www.facebook.com/marky.o.reilly Marky O Reilly

      A fair comment… but completely irrelevant. Bringing up the horrors committed by others does nothing to diminish the brutality and inhumanity present within abu ghraib. This is a justification children would use on the playground. There are terrible things all over the world happening every second, it doesn’t make contributing to such acts ok. 

      Your lack of empathy is disturbing. 

    • tim1888

      its about what the yanks did in the jail not what saddam hussein did in abu ghraib we all know what saddam did

    • tim1888

      its about what the yanks did in the jail not what saddam hussein did in abu ghraib we all know what saddam did