No photos, please!

As we know from recent comments, Obama has decided to supress the photos from Abu Grahib because they might “put troops at risk”.

Now the Telegraph in London (which by the way is doing a splendid hatchet job on all MP’s in the UK) has a report that is quoting an Major-General Antonio Taguba, who led an investigation into the abuses.

“I am not sure what purpose their release would serve other than a legal one and the consequence would be to imperil our troops, the only protectors of our foreign policy, when we most need them, and British troops who are trying to build security in Afghanistan. The mere description of these pictures is horrendous enough, take my word for it.”

Some of his allegations of what when on are indeed horrific.

IMHO, I think that the US would gain more in the long run by being honest about what happened, and not by trying to hide. After all: Fear grows in darkness; if you think there’s a bogeyman around, turn on the light.

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48 Responses

  1. I am not understanding what is happening here. Obama announced the closure of Gitmo back in January. Surely the photos would have been beneficial to his stance as the photos confirm ‘and this is why’ thereby silencing his critics.

  2. Its a new Administration grappling with the horrendous mistakes of the old Administration.

    Why give ammunition to the recruiters of suicide bombers etc by giving them a propaganda tool for their evil trade ?

    Release them in 10 years time if you must release at all.

  3. What Walrus said.

  4. IATW

    But wouldn’t the recruiters already know what happened and would be using the fact that the “US is trying to hide” as an recruiting tool?

  5. Walrus, I should imagine that the suicide bombers had enough anecdotal/first hand evidence of torture and abuse as recruitment tools but that it was the US and indeed Australia who were denying that these events happened…that is, the argument has been that were just that; only recruitment tools by radicals.

    I suppose that the point is: would an admission by the US help or hinder? I am inclined to think that an honest admission and releasing the photos would have helped..along the lines of, I’m appalled…this is a new start. As per Obama the US regains the moral high ground, thereby depriving the extremists of oxygen. However, it seems that Obama chose otherwise and I think that this is a big mistake.

  6. I’m of two minds about it too.

    While releasing the things would certainly give the Cheneys, Rumsfelds and, for that matter, the Spartas (‘torture-what torture?’) of the world their come-uppance, doing so is clearly going to enrage the usual crowd in the Islamic world.

    And that can’t be good for anyone.

    The photos will just be used to motivate another mob of screwed-up idle kids to strap-on a bomb-belt in the name of Allah and do a bit of damage to The Godless Infidels who treated God’s True Believers in such an evil fashion.

    In this country (as in most others), the Prosecution never releases the grisly photos after, say, a rape or murder trial. They’re regarded as too inflammatory. And for good reason.

    Maybe the situation here is analagous.

    Here, the actual perpetrators of these crimes are already doing time, while the planners are yet to be charged.

    On balance, I don’t think anything positive will be achieved by releasing these particular happy snaps.

    I supopose the whole affair just reinforces what a complete screw-up the Bushistas and their crappy followers have made of things.

  7. I think emotion is probably a primary driver of people that wish to become suicide bombers.

    Emotion is triggered more by the visual than by a narrative story. Think of a harrowing photograph or video footage, and the surge of emotion. A narrative is emotional, but is less immediate.

    Illustrate of this the shocking video footage of a poor hostage having their throat cut, compare this to a newspaper report of the same event.

    Visual images are emotional, and we would be wise to ensure that emotions aren’t further flamed.

  8. Evan

    Very good argument (on the rape photos). That has given me food for thought.

  9. joni, on May 29th, 2009 at 10:28 am Said

    Spinning an allegation is not as powerful as a photograph.

    Just imagine the nutters not just in the Middle East but in Indonesia ?

    They’d be licking their lips at the prospect of getting photos of their muslim brothers being raped and showing them to impressionable teenagers.

    Do you really believe it is worth the risk ?

    Fancy a trip to Bali after the photos are published ?

    Even if most of us here never wanted this War you can never give your enemy any type of ammunition in a war of any kind.

  10. Yes…………..these are Kodak moments that can stay in the filing cabinet !

  11. What Evan and Walrus said.

  12. Good point Evan, that photos of the victims of crimes where it is too horrendous are not released for the juicy edification of the public press and their readers.

    Maybe a better way would have been to release the photos to a select few, academics, religious leaders (all major religions) rather than a refusal.

    Am thinking that the only reason that people strap on the bombs is because they believe (or are lead to believe) that there is no alternative for anything better. And this is why the USA stuffed it up completely re the invasion. They were so slow off the mark that they lost ‘hearts and minds’ of the local people.

  13. I’m trusting Obama’s judgement on this one. I just hope he’s not a Bush-lite in the manner Rudd has fulfilled earlier prophecies* of being a Howard-lite in so many ways.

    Politicians always turn out to be politicians, don’t they, no matter how bright and shiny they are prior to elections?

    *Sub-conscious use of a normally religious term in reference to Rudd? That’s a worry to me.

  14. The Americans don’t do Hearts and Minds, Min.

    They tried it in Vietnam and failed miserably.

    After that it was a case of, as General Westmoreland once famously said, “If you have them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.”

    Accordingly, they did Iraq “by the balls” (remember shock & awe) and the results are now plain to see.

    For the locals, it was a case of: “Thank you very much for getting rid of that dictator, now would you mind pissing-off so we can (depending on their particular bent):
    Set-up a Shiite Caliphate;
    Set-up a Sunni Caliphate; or
    (In the case of the Kurds) Break-away and set-up our own country attogether?’

    Yesiree, a triumph of US diplomacy and arms.

  15. What Ross Sharp said

  16. What Dave55 said

  17. Oh dear IATW – you’ve turned into Ian Chappel 😉

  18. Re hearts and minds Evan, I am inclined to agree. The Poms do it and the Aussies do it..example being the Aboriginal intervention, you are more than likely to see an Aussie soldier kicking a footie around with the local kids.

    It’s off topic, but when son was on HMAS Bundaberg re the Tamils picked up..they played cards and had some very good chin-wags…so son said.

    Aussie troops have been doing this since Vietnam and I suspect earlier..it’s just part of the Australian nature.

  19. It’s the phosphorescent tube I’m worried about.

  20. Daphon..I agree..it’s always the best out of a bad bunch. I don’t know that Rudd was all that bright and shiny prior to the election..elected in spite of ultra negative bombarding of him (nerd, dowdy wife etc). I think that where the right-wingers went wrong is their perception that all Australians are footy-heads but ignored the fact that we can have a soft spot for nerds.

  21. Well, I don’t thnk we or the Poms do the Hearts and Minds thing particularly well either, Min, but I’ll grant you we seem to do it a little better than our friends on the other side of the Pacific.

    Bombing the crap outa someone, then expecting them to love you for it (a US standard practise) is not part of the modern Brit or Aussie military playbook. We proved as much in Vietnam, where the operational practices and somewhat more controlled fire of the Australian infantry was light-years ahead of the way the US did things.

    It didn’t help us win, of course, but it seemed to annoy the locals just a tad less. Perhaps its because we took a modicum of care not to waste as many non-combatants.

    Whatever be the case, you just can’t change someone’s mind at the point of a gun. Isn’t that the real lesson that should have been leared from Vietnam?

    Yet here we are, 4 decades later, trying-out the same tired old crap in Iraq. And wondering why it’s not working.

    I reckon its a case of National ADD. Or maybe Alzheimers. (WTF do you call someone who is incapable of remembering or of learning anything from past mistakes?)

  22. And one of the reasons that the surge in Iraq worked was because the US soldiers would actually stay and sleep in the areas that they patrolled instead of going back to base at night.

    That showed to the population that they were committed to cleaning up the area for the locals. And that is why the surge worked.

    (been reading Bob Woodwards “The War Within” which is detailing these facts)

  23. “……….WTF do you call someone who is incapable of remembering or of learning anything from past mistakes?”

    Evan, on May 29th, 2009 at 11:42 am Said:

    That’s easy…………you call them either Alexander or Warren at an inquiry into AWB

  24. Off topic, but as there is no Friday threat up yet I need to post this with the message that it’s not me. He just has my good name.

    http://sledgeyourmates.news.com.au/heraldsun/?article=22475

  25. I couldn’t find anyone named Miglo, Duck, hoon, slum lord or tax cheat.

    What are you talking about?

  26. Miglo, on May 29th, 2009 at 12:54 pm Said:
    Off topic, but as there is no Friday threat up yet..

    By gee Migs, that’s a relief…

  27. I didn’t know you were Kevin Sheedy..??

    Friday Thread up now!!

    Especially for all you heathens!!

  28. Evan..very excellent ..and I agree.

    To me it was, the Poms immediately gathered the village elders asking, How can we help. The Americans pushed the elders aside..get away you Muslim b’stards.

    To me it’s not just a matter of policy but that it’s a matter of character..ours.

  29. I think the biggest problem with not releasing the photos is that the US itself gets to continue to ignore the problem and pretend it wasn’t that serious and that it’s been adequately dealt with.

    Releasing the photos of Abu Ghraib allowed that particular cesspit to become a legitimate topic of conversation; prior to that point to suggest that maybe the US was mistreating detainees would be considered tantamount to treason – or at the very least, to not “supporting the troops” which is almost the next worst thing – in most US circles.

    So now we have more photos of horrendous abuse (which it must be said seem to be quite consistent with much of what Sy Hersh said existed several years ago). And we have assurances that behind the scenes all of the responsible individuals have been dealt with.

    Based on form that seems bloody unlikely. Recent Senate reports make it pretty clear that the guys at the bottom of the command chain at Abu Ghraib were scapegoated, and everyone else got off scot free.

    I’d be OK with keeping the photos under wraps if I actually saw a strong and visible commitment to the rule of law, taken as far up the command chain as necessary. Not only does the law need to be applied (Obama, I’m talking to you), but it needs to be seen to be applied, especially if you’re trying to do “hearts and minds”.

    But we don’t yet see that. We get “looking forward, not back” and “infinite detention” which amount to yet more subversion of the law.

  30. So Obama’s assurances that the photos really showed nothing beyond what was already shown elsewhere…seem rather inaccurate?

  31. This looks like a big step in the right direction.

    FBI planning a bigger role in terrorism fight

    Bureau agents will gather evidence to ensure that criminal prosecutions of alleged terrorists are an option.

    FBI agents for years had used non-coercive interrogations to thwart attacks, win convictions of Al Qaeda operatives and gain an encyclopedic knowledge of how the terrorist network operates. But they withdrew from questioning important suspects after the bureau opposed the tactics being used by the CIA and military — often by inexperienced civilian contractors.

    The harsh interrogations provided such bad information that U.S. agents spent years chasing false leads around the world, former FBI agent Ali Soufan testified before Congress two weeks ago.

  32. O Son of Lothar, if they’d taken a law enforcement approach from the get-go after 9/11, Osama and his whole gang of Koran-bashing psychopaths would likely be behind bars by now.

    After all, the US would have had the co-operation and active assistance of local law enforcement in just about every country in the world to catch them.

    But no, Bush just had to get the military-in and try and go all Iwo Jima on their ass. And then he invaded the wrong country, to boot, the Turkey.

  33. Senator Levin calls Cheney a liar, saying he “bore false witness” (on a number of claims).

  34. This article claims that General Taguba believes the Bush administration is guilty of war crimes (something the Daily Telegraph article doesn’t seem to feel the need to relate).

    I don’t know the website, and I don’t know how accurate the article is. However there is a link to a (US) ABC News blog, with a further link to the quote in a forward to a report on the the apparent torture of 11 detainees, so it looks like it’s probably genuine.

    And read the rest of that forward…

  35. Evan, I reckon you’re right (perhaps with local complications in Pakistan and Afghanistan due to the Taliban owning much of the place). But they sure squandered lots of goodwill and missed a fantastic opportunity.

  36. Hmmmm.

    “Beariing false winess” is one of those expressions that only a Born Again Christian or Yank Politician would use. (Perhaps they’re the same thing).

    Lawyers call it perjury (when its done on oath) and you can get a decent stretch in chokey for doing it, too.

    Pollies everywhere call it “good politics”, as long as they don’t get caught. Looks like poor Dick got hisself caught.

    IMHO you suck, Dick.

  37. I ckecked-out that Taguba article.

    Many thnaks.

    If I was a God-Fearin’ Repugnican I’d probably say “that goddamn guy looks more ‘n half Gook ta me. WTF is he doing outa his black pye-jamees and in one o’ our uniforms? He’s probably a Commie, so what d’ya expect him ta say?”

    Luckily, I’m not.

    But no doubt someone like Sparta of Arizona will arrive here shortly and take up the narrative, telling us why the General is not to be believed.

  38. joni, your link in the post goes to the SMH, not the Telegraph article – which has a particularly disturbing 3rd last paragraph.

    It also seems the Pentagon is claiming that the descriptions by Taguba do not match the photographs in the current FOIA lawsuit (and hence maybe Obama is correct, if disingenuous, to say that the lawsuit photos do not go much beyond what has already been seen. He may also be correct that the individuals in the lawsuit photos have been “dealt with”, although I haven’t yet seen anyone reporting on those cases).

    Does anyone have any evidence of suitable prosecutions for the acts Taguba is referring to, which appear to be much more serious and widespread than the claims made by Obama et al about the lawsuit photos?

  39. Yes, I did wonder at the Christian code phrase. I reckon it was speaking in part to the “faithful”, who would probably form a large part of the audience.

  40. Juan Cole is part of an interview on NPR. He seems to seriously know his stuff. Check out his comments in response to “Who are the Taliban and what do they want?” a few paragraphs down.

    There’s also discussion of the Swat Valley offensive, who is trying to achieve what via which methods and why; how popular the Taliban is, and how much of a threat to Pakistan they are or are not.

    And Evan, there’s a comment quite a long way down about a particular “policing problem”…

    And the comments on the rule of law are very interesting.

  41. That’s brazen, but then the Bush admin’s technique was to tell brazen whoppers over and over again.

    Liz Cheney, who apparently is the best person Dick Cheney can find to defend himself – not a good look – says that calling Dick Cheney or the CIA contractors torturers is libelous. Someone may be willing to take up her implicit invitation to a court date…

  42. Fox News interviewee wants to kill everyone at Guantanamo on the presumption that they’re all terrorists…sure, that won’t inflame the Muslim world and thus “endanger the troops”, right?

    For those unaware of it, check out the link to the McClatchy article at the end. Some of those detained at Guantanamo had been working with the US government right up to their “capture”, let alone those who were turned in on false allegations for bounty payments, etc.

    The McClatchy reporting also documented how U.S. detention policies fueled support for extremist Islamist groups. For some detainees who went home far more militant than when they arrived, Guantanamo became a school for jihad, or Islamic holy war.

    And the rest of the sorry story…

  43. The same Fox News interviewee reckons the US is going to eventually find it necessary to kill the media too.

  44. Doesn’t surprise me.

    This Peters guy sounds like he needs a lobotomy. Maybe some generous soul will get him a gift certificate for one next Christmas. That way we won’t have to put-up with his tosh in the new year.

    He reminds me of the guy who wanted to call-in airstrikes on Student demos at UCLA in the late ’60’s. I don’t think he was joking, either.

    Maybe they’re related.

  45. Oh my GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD we have now gone back to McCartharyism.

    Now………….Who said that by the way ?

    I reckon all you guys talkin’ about torture have the biggest collection of……..straps………….stirrups…………………….(for the girls)…………………………………dildos………………………………..strapons.. ……………..and whips……………………………….plastics (non fishing)………………………Actually thats a good idea.!

    Lets all go fishing……………………………!

  46. Taguba says the photos in the lawsuit are not the ones his quotes referred to, which is consistent with claims by both the Pentagon and Obama.

  47. et tu, Petraeus? Heads must have exploded.

    …General David Petraeus, said Friday that the US had violated the Geneva Conventions in a stunning admission from President Bush’s onetime top general in Iraq…

    Petraeus made the comment in the context of being asked about the Bush administration’s so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques.” …

    Asked about a “ticking time bomb” scenario…Petraeus said that interrogation methods approved for use in the Army Field Manual were generally sufficient…

    He also acknowledged that the US prison at Guantanamo Bay has inflamed anti-US hostility.

  48. Despite Taguba’s clarification, the Obama administration appears concerned that photos with contents similar to those described by Taguba would have to be released – and are now going to the Supreme Court.

    And Scott Horton says he has assurances supporting the contention that the photos in the lawsuit are more shocking and more sexually explicit than those seen already – and claims to have seen one such photo. He also highlights the Pentagon spokesman’s tactics of … well, dissembling and attacking the source right up until shown to be lying through his teeth.

    I don’t think the truth can be ascertained yet, but the administration and Pentagon are showing signs of nervousness.

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