The extent of Abu Ghraib: Seymour Hersh, who broke the Iraqi torture story for the New Yorker, says the US government is holding videotapes of American GIs sodomizing boys and women at Abu Ghraib prison. During a speech to the ACLU, the veteran reporter recounted actions that, if true, would surely amount to war crimes: "The women were passing messages saying 'Please come and kill me, because of what's happened.' 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. The worst about all of them is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror it's going to come out." For more, see Camera/Iraq: The War of Images in the Middle East. See video of Hersh's speech here.

Correction 07.19: As Ed Cone specifies, Hersh did not indicate that it was American soldiers who were sodomizing boys. But if sodomy was going on at all in a prison under US command--by whom? Civilian contractors? Iraqi soldiers?--the story is still important. More from Cone on the background for Hersh's claims here.

The absence of Donald Rumsfeld: Rumsfeld's bad teeth and bombastic ways have been noticeably absent lately. Since April 27, the day before the Abu Ghraib torture story broke, he's only appeared in Pentagon briefings twice. As the AP reports, Rumsfeld's popularity is tanking, and the Bush campaign, understanding that, has been keeping him out of the spotlight. With new revelations about Abu Ghraib emerging, it's probably a smart tactic: it was Rumsfeld who complained that people were talking about Abu Ghraib by defining torture in a way that "doesn't fit a dictionary definition of the word that one would normally accept." (Forcing anal sex on minors wouldn't be normally accepted as torture?)

A POW on the Geneva Conventions: Douglas Peterson a 26-year U.S. Air Force vet, ambassador to Vietnam, and six-year POW in the same country, writes that "Life in a Vietnamese prison was hell, but I was never subjected to such degrading sexual humiliation [as Iraqis faced at Abu Ghraib]. The human body can withstand enormous physical pain and recover. But the human mind is different: One seldom fully recovers from ruthless psychological or sexual torture. I am certain my treatment would have been worse had the Geneva Conventions not been in place and had the world not insisted that Vietnam abide by them."

The full story on Abu Ghraib: Human Rights Watch's extensive report The Road to Abu Ghraib.

No comments: