Friday, Mar. 19, 2010

April 2004
Abu Ghraib

"The report's conclusions about the institutional failures of the Army prison system were devastating. Specifically, (Major General Antonio M.)Taguba found that between October and December of 2003 there were numerous instances of 'sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses' at Abu Ghraib."

—from "Torture at Abu Ghraib", by Seymour Hersh, in the May 10, 2004 New Yorker

In late April, photographic evidence of American military personnel's abuse and torture of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison are made public, sparking a huge public outcry around the world, and especially in the Middle East. The shocking images of smiling, sadistic soldiers and shackled, humiliated prisoners come to symbolize everything that has gone wrong with the war that was once supposed to spread freedom in Iraq. While several soldiers and officers are removed from duty and some are convicted in court martials for their role in Abu Ghraib, the administration insists that the scandal was the result of a few bored soldiers, and not not indicative of a greater flaw in U.S. policy towards the treatment of prisoners or the responsibility of senior military officials. A few months after the Abu Ghraib story breaks, leaked Justice Department memos reveal that the administration has indeed been quietly redefining the U.S. position on torture.