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Sunday, May 02, 2004

Somebody Alert the President

Yesterday, in the President's weekly Radio Address, George W. Bush said:
One year later, despite many challenges, life for the Iraqi people is a world away from the cruelty and corruption of Saddam's regime. At the most basic level of justice, people are no longer disappearing into political prisons, torture chambers, and mass graves...
However, based on photographs released just this week, the Arab world is getting a different message -- and American citizens should be disgusted.

In case readers here missed it, "60 Minutes II" reported earlier this week that US soldiers and contractors are torturing Iraqi captives -- and photographing their alleged crimes. The Memory Hole has a group of the photographs. Some of the Americans shown in the photographs are smiling. It's quite despicable, really.

One of the mostly widely circulated photos provides an image of this scene:
"According to the U.S. Army, one Iraqi prisoner was told to stand on a box with his head covered, wires attached to his hands. He was told that if he fell off the box, he would be electrocuted.
The SF Chronicle has a story in today's paper with many more details, including the involvement of US Army intelligence personnel and British soldiers:
...images of American soldiers smiling, laughing and signaling "thumbs-up" as Iraqi detainees were forced into sexually humiliating positions...

Iraqi detainees allegedly were beaten and sexually abused, officials announced Saturday.

Also Saturday, the New Yorker magazine said it had obtained a U.S. Army report that Iraqi detainees were subjected to "sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses" at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.

The abuses included threats of rape and the pouring of cold water and liquid from chemical lights on detainees, said the internal report by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba. According to the report, detainees were beaten with a broom handle, and one was sodomized with "a chemical light and perhaps a broomstick," the New Yorker reports in its May 10 issue.

The scandal broadened Saturday after Britain's Daily Mirror published new photographs of a hooded Iraqi prisoner who reportedly was beaten by British troops. The newspaper's front-page picture showed a soldier apparently urinating on the prisoner, who was sitting on the floor.

The newspaper quoted unidentified soldiers as saying the unarmed captive had been threatened with execution during eight hours of abuse and was left bleeding and vomiting. They said the captive was driven away and dumped from the back of a moving vehicle, and it was not known whether he survived.
The war for "hearts and minds" is over and the US and its coalition partners have lost.

And al-Jazeerah and other worldwide outlets are showing these images.
The photos appeared in newspapers across the Middle East, angering Arabs who accused the United States of caring only about the rights of Americans.

Egypt's Akhbar el-Yom newspaper splashed photographs of U.S. soldiers posing by naked, hooded inmates on Saturday's front page, with the banner headline "The Scandal." Al-Wafd, an opposition paper, displayed similar photos beneath the headline, "The Shame!"

Although the pictures have not been published widely by Iraqi newspapers, many Iraqis have seen them on Arabic-language satellite television stations, such as Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya.
This doesn't quite match the President's words, do they?

Where is the outrage?

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