Missing the Scandal at Abu Ghraib
By Jeremy Scahill
The new photos from the Iraqi prison obliterate any idea that what happened there wasn't torture. So why is CNN treating it like nothing more than a military scandal?
CNN's Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr should be given some kind of award for the most outrageously off-target reporting on the newly released photos and videos of U.S. torture and abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
In her numerous appearances during the morning news cycle on CNN after the images were first broadcast on Australia's SBS television, Starr described what she saw as the "root of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal" as such:
"Let's start by reminding everybody that under U.S. military law and practice, the only photographs that can be taken are official photographs for documentation purposes about the status of prisoners when they are in military detention. That's it. Anything else is not acceptable. And of course, that is what the Abu Ghraib Prison scandal is all about."
What? Here I thought the "scandal" was that the U.S. military was systematically abusing prisoners. These new photos, with their documentation of violently inflicted open wounds, obliterate any notion that what occurred at Abu Ghraib was anything short of torture by all accepted definitions of the term. They reveal some horrifying scenes of naked, humiliated, bloodied prisoners, some with apparent gunshot wounds. In a video broadcast on Australia's SBS, naked, hooded prisoners were seen being forced to masturbate in front of the camera.
But, according to CNN's Starr, the real transgression was that some soldiers documented the torture in violation of "U.S. military law and practice."
In a report later in the morning, Starr returned to her outrageous characterization of the "scandal," beginning her report:
"As we look at a couple of the photographs, let's remind people why these are so inappropriate. Under U.S. military law and practice and procedure, you simply cannot take photographs -- as we're going to show you some of them right now. You cannot take photographs of people in detention, in humiliating positions, positions that are abusive in any way, shape or form. The only pictures that are ever allowed of people in U.S. military detention would be pictures for documentation purposes. And, clearly, these pictures are not that. That is the whole issue that has been at the root of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, that it was abusive, the practices in which soldiers engaged in."
"You cannot take photographs of people in detention, in humiliating positions, positions that are abusive in any way, shape or form," according to Starr. But apparently it's OK to place them in those humiliating, abusive positions -- or at least not worth commenting on in these reports on CNN.
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