Making a permanent impression since 1994
May 30, 2004
A dark chapter in history
By Teague Neal
The nightmare at Abu Ghraib has caused the world to look
with disgust at a vast outpouring of prison photos, videos and previously secret
information that has undermined whatever legitimacy the war in Iraq
may have possessed.
The abuse "was just horrific,” said Tiffany Abdool,
a 16-year-old who attends
“I mean when you saw those pictures it showed you how
cruel Americans can really be, like no offense to them, of course, but still
that was just mean and cruel," she said. "I was shocked and
These dreadful pictures from the Iraqi prison are enough to
make anyone sick to his stomach.
They clearly raise serious questions for the people who are
supposed to be taking care of our safety and bringing war-torn dictatorships
into a new era democracy and to justice, leaders who should have known better.
We are supposed to believe from the White House that this
is a breaking news story – and for the public, it is.
But this "breaking news" can actually be traced
back to April 2003 when the International Red Cross and other humanitarian aid
organizations complained about the inhumane and illegal abuse happening in the
Iraqi prisons controlled by Americans and their allies.
Even before the Red Cross issued warnings, the Bush
administration was creating the conditions that led to the brutality in
In the midst of the war in Afghanistan
With that decision to ignore the treaty provisions,
Rumsfeld essentially justified doing anything to prisoners who came into
American hands during the wars waged by President Bush.
With Rumsfeld’s tacit endorsement, American and British
soldiers sexually, emotionally and physically abused Iraqi prisoners of war,
forcing them to assume sexual positions, wear green garbage bags over their
heads, face vicious dogs and more.
"I thought that it was absolutely disgusting and sick
that anyone would think of doing something like that," said Erica Bros, a
Just consider the photo showing a naked Iraqi male
prisoner, terrified and cornered while American soldiers with big smiles on
their faces surround him with vicious guard dogs baring their teeth at the man.
How would they like to be him?
Yet Bush, who apologized for the crimes, can still call
Rumsfeld a "really good defense secretary” despite it all.
Please! I think the word horrific may be too light on him
for allowing the unspeakable to happen in
The Geneva Convention must be followed word for word by
countries holding prisoners of war, with no exceptions.
Among its provisions is a guarantee that prisoners who
“may have complaints to make regarding their conditions of captivity” have
the right to transmit their concerns to their leaders.
Had the prisoners at Abu Ghraib been allowed free,
unlimited communication with their leaders – as international law mandates --
then the abuse there would likely have come to close more than a year ago.
There would have been no sexual abuse, no packing people in ice
or any of the other horrors that went on and on at the prison.
With those photos and videos bearing witness to what
happened, "Operation Iraqi Freedom" is going to wind up in history
books as another dark chapter in humanity’s history.
I’m sure that war veterans -- whether they fought in
Yes, the dictatorship, executions and terror during the
tyranny of Saddam Hussein and his followers needed to come to an end.
But do we need to kill thousands upon thousands, injure
countless others and inflict abuse on those we happen to capture?
George Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the U.S
Army and the British armies: what is it you think you are doing over there?
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