Yet More Abu Ghraib photos
Salon has published a new gallery of photos of prisoners being abused at Abu Ghraib. These go along with the batch published by the British and Australian media yesterday.
The AP offers this description:
New images of naked prisoners, some bloodied and lying on the floor, threatened to revive public anger over abuse by U.S. guards at Abu Ghraib prison at a time when tensions with the West are already running high in the Middle East. The images were taken about the same time as the earlier photos that triggered a worldwide scandal and led to military trials and prison sentences for several lower-ranking American soldiers. Some key Iraqi officials urged their countrymen Wednesday to react calmly since the pictures were old and the offenders had been punished. Many of the pictures broadcast Wednesday by Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service, including some that appear to show corpses, were more graphic than those previously published. One of the video clips depicted a group of naked men with bags over their heads standing together and masturbating. The network said the men were forced to participate.
In the Middle East, where there have been widespread anti-Western protests recently over caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya TV aired some of the Australian station’s footage but refrained from using the most shocking and sexually explicit images. CNN also broadcast excerpts. Iraq’s acting human rights minister, Nermine Othman, said she was “horrified” by the pictures and would study whether any action could be taken against those responsible, even though some offenders have been imprisoned. “There will be two kinds of reactions from Iraqis,” she told The Associated Press. “One will be anger and others will feel sorry that they (SBS) didn’t give them to the Iraqi government to investigate. Why use them? Why show them? We have had enough suffering and we don’t want any more.”
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the Defense Department believed the release of additional images of prisoner abuse was harmful and “could only further inflame and possibly incite unnecessary violence in the world.” Whitman said he did not know whether the photos and video clips were among images the Pentagon has been withholding from public release since 2004. But another defense official said Army officials had reviewed the photographs posted on the Sydney Morning Herald’s Web site and matched them to images that were among those turned over to military authorities in 2004 by a U.S. soldier.
Michelle Malkin asks, reasonably enough,
No pixelation of the nude prisoners in the photos. No disclaimers about paying respect to members of the US military who will be endangered by publication of the pics. The Washington Post used the opportunity to republish Abu Ghraib photos and video it obtained in April 2004.
Readers have been e-mailing all day the question the MSM needs to answer:
Why the Abu Ghraib photos, but not the Mohammed Cartoons?
Fair enough. Of course, given that Malkin and I are among the numerous bloggers who have published the Mohammed cartoons, one supposes the counter charge could be made. So, here are three of the most graphic from the Salon portfolio:
Salon‘s Walter Shapiro offers an explanation for “Why we’re publishing the new Abu Ghraib photos.”
Eventually this visual repetition numbs the senses. All these ghastly images have been viewed so often that they seem to belong to a different war conducted by a different superpower in a different century. Yet the photographs that news organizations have so far published represent only a partial sample of the government’s chilling documentary record from Abu Ghraib.
When Salon‘s national correspondent Mark Benjamin obtained the never-before-released photographs that accompany this essay, we had to both establish their authenticity and to answer the basic question of our justification for publishing. The images themselves partly answered the why-publish question for us. Speaking for myself, I remain haunted by one of the more seemingly banal pictures in this new collection from the dark side. Taken on Dec. 6, 2003, the photograph shows a uniformed and seemingly untroubled Army sergeant leaning against a corridor wall completing his paperwork. All routine, except standing next to the sergeant is a hooded and naked Iraqi prisoner. Just another day of methodical record-keeping at Abu Ghraib.
Abu Ghraib cannot be allowed to fade away like some half-forgotten domestic political controversy, which may have prompted newsmagazine covers at the time, but now seems as irrelevant as the 2002 elections. Abu Ghraib is not an issue of partisan sound bites or refighting the decision to invade Iraq. Grotesque violations of every value that America proclaims occurred within the walls of that prison. These abuses were carried out by soldiers who wore our flag on their uniforms and apparently believed that Americans here at home would approve of their conduct. Rather than hiding what they did out of shame, they commemorated their sadism with a visual record.
Salon is a media organization and additional photos are news. They’re also a left-of-center publication that opposed the war and this administration and it serves their ideological agenda. Why they were published really needs no explanation. They’re certainly within their rights to do so.
I question, however, the assertion that more pictures of the same thing proves that something is more pervasive or systematic. The American soldiers pictured appear to be the same ones that we’ve already seen pictured and tried for their crimes. That they took a whole bunch of photos rather than a few doesn’t really add much to the story.
Update: Matt at Blackfive has more graphic photos from Abu Ghraib, including this horrific shot: