Corruption

"It is Well That War is So Terrible…."

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Via Wired.com, and from the collection of psychologist Philip Zimbardo who was a defense expert witness for one of the guards, some more gruesome photos from Abu Ghraib. Some are pretty similar to the classic hooded figure one, some of them defensible on some level as weird black humor, but for the most part showing some very dark behavior seemingly motivated from some of the very dark feelings generated by life during wartime.

[Tip via reader John-David Filing.]

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  1. I don’t understand photo 10.

    Is there something else going on besides two guys holding up a mousetrap with a mouse in it?

    I must be missing something.

  2. The guards at Abu Ghraib were just pissed because they didn’t get their flowers and candy.

  3. When you train people to become killers and stick them in a warzone, I don’t get why we’re so shocked when they behave like killers in a warzone.

  4. Adamness,

    I think that was the whole point. The accompanying article sheds some light on that very matter.

  5. The Abhu Ghraib prison guards weren’t “trained killers”. They were civilian prison guard activated reservists

  6. joe wins this thread.

    That’s 63,302 – 0.

  7. They were civilian prison guard activated reservists

    If thats true it goes a long way towards explaining their (to put it mildly) unprofessional behavior. This is something I agree with John McCain on–nothing gave fuel to anti-American sentiments not only in Iraq but the entire world over like those photos did.

  8. …but for the most part showing some very dark behavior seemingly motivated from some of the very dark feelings generated by life during wartime.

    I think the evidence is very clear that being soldiers in wartime had very little to do with the abuses. They never heard a shot fired in anger. Several of the guards already had abuse complaints against them from their work in the civilian prison system. They were people already prone to abuse prisoners.

    The critical failure occurred when the commander of the prison implemented “casual friday” and stopped enforcing standards of military discipline and decorum. The guards stopped thinking of themselves as soldiers on mission and more like weirdos on vacation.

    People forget that military discipline exist primarily to stop people in war from killing, looting and raping. History is replete with stories of units in every military in the world turning into criminals when their commanders stop demanding they act like soldiers.

    Regrettably, humans need no training to kill and no incentive to cruelty. Military discipline is the most important tool we have in reducing the horrors of war.

  9. They were civilian prison guard activated reservists

    Really? Are you serious? [light bulb comes on]

    Prison guards tend to be, well, sadistic bastards.

    In the OC, every Sheriff must do his first four years in Main Jail as a guard. That just tells the tale don’t it?

  10. BTW, that one chick looks like she’s posing with a dead guy. I saw a few shots like that on grainy polaroid from Nam. Difference was, they weren’t prisoners, they were what was left of the VC when the firefight was over.

  11. I don’t understand photo 10.

    Is there something else going on besides two guys holding up a mousetrap with a mouse in it?

    I must be missing something.

    I’m going to guess it has some relevance to the psychologist’s analysis, the contempt they show for the rat is indicative of their behavior towards the prisoners.

    The critical failure occurred when the commander of the prison implemented “casual friday” and stopped enforcing standards of military discipline and decorum. The guards stopped thinking of themselves as soldiers on mission and more like weirdos on vacation.
    That sounds like a Dilbert Cartoon gone bad-getting “casual friday” leads down the road of depravity and sadism.

  12. Brian: None of these pictures are even remotely defensible.

    If these pictures in anyway represent the typical professional behavior of American “corrections officers”, that entire profession is hopelessly fucked.

    If a single one of the physically battered, naked and sexually humiliated people in these photos were a female, I wonder how many American women would still support our involvement in the “war” in Iraq. My guess would be zero.

  13. Peter, I take it you’ve never had the chance to meet prison guards socially?

    If so, count yourself lucky.

    The admittedly small number of prison guards I’ve met has left me with the distinct impression that they are all composed of easily angered, monosynaptic cretins.

  14. Hey, I got namejacked.

    Not a good effort, but thanks, I guess.

  15. I just clicked link that said “more gruesome pictures” while eating breakfast. Oh well, lesson learned.

  16. The guards at Abu Ghraib were just pissed because they didn’t get their flowers and candy…

  17. The critical failure occurred when the commander of the prison implemented “casual friday” and stopped enforcing standards of military discipline and decorum. The guards stopped thinking of themselves as soldiers on mission and more like weirdos on vacation.
    That sounds like a Dilbert Cartoon gone bad-getting “casual friday” leads down the road of depravity and sadism.

  18. some more gruesome photos from Abu Ghraib. Some are pretty similar to the classic hooded figure one, some of them defensible on some level as weird black humor, but for the most part showing some very dark behavior seemingly motivated from some of the very dark feelings generated by life during a minimum wage job.

    Obviously, the guards at Abu Ghraib were “typical Americans”…

    “BTW, How many ‘snotburgers’ do you think YOU have eaten… lately?!!”

  19. We still haven’t seen all the videos and photos. I would even bet money that there are as-bad or worse photos from other coalition jails in Iraq. It does not seem to be a high media priority to figure this out.

    Here is a current news story about a torture death in a US jail:

    http://www.11alive.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=62415

    Moneyquote:

    According to the Gwinnett county medical examiner, it is unclear if the Taser caused Williams’ death.

    District Attorney Danny Porter provided details of the investigations to a grand jury and that grand jury decided not to pursue an investigation of their own. They, however, chose not to view the videotape taken at the jail.

    “They were aware of the tape and the disturbing aspects of it, but chose not to view it,” Porter said. “They chose not to see it and chose not to go any farther.”

    “For all intents and purposes, this ends my case,” he said.

    “At times it gets pretty frustrating, frustrating to the point where I want to scream,” [the victim’s widow] said.

  20. Interesting to see Philip Zimbardo of Stanford prison experiment fame involved with this. I hadn’t been reading past the headlines to see that either he was involved or that this was part of a TED talk.

  21. For what it’s worth:

    Several years ago, I met a maintenance worker for the City of Denver. He told me about seeing photographs of smiling SWAT officers posed over dead bodies, “like hunters with a deer they shot,” hanging in police locker rooms.

  22. Nice Lee quote on the lede. Spoken in 1862, it didn’t keep him from continuing the butchery of bluebellies, and his own men, in a hateful cause, for another 2 and a half years.

  23. This is something I agree with John McCain on–nothing gave fuel to anti-American sentiments not only in Iraq but the entire world over like those photos did.

    I’m not sure of the point you’re trying to make with this statement. Do you think they shouldn’t have been shown? Or is the sentiment correct?

    And while it did increase anti-American sentiment, that isn’t the point; people will always react disproportionately and blame the entire system, when the individuals should be held mostly responsible. It’s important that situations like this be publicized (although MSM usually fearmongers anyway) both to inform citizens/taxpayers of these activities and to publicize the censure these lawbreakers deserve.

  24. Several of the guards already had abuse complaints against them from their work in the civilian prison system. They were people already prone to abuse prisoners.

    And then they’re send to a prison where they see other American officials torture and abuse prisoners with official authorization, and are recruited to help “prepare” prisoners for those interrogation sessions.

    If that dead guy in the freezer is who I think he is, that’s an Iraqi general who died under American torture – he suffocated in a sleeping bag his interrogators stuffed him in.

    There was a lot more going on than these people being soldiers in a warzone.

  25. Well, joe, that leads to the question:

    If Obama is the next President, does he re-open the Abu Ghraib investigation? Does he open all the files pertaining to CIA detention, Armed Forces detention, and allied detention [e.g. Afghan prisons]? Does he get together in a room everyone who has resigned in disgust from one aspect or another of running Guantanamo and the military tribunals and ask for the real story? Does he realize the Abu Ghraib photos and videos that Rumsfeld and Bush suppressed?

    Because every one of these things has to be done before the reputation of the United States can be rehabilitated – before it can deserve to be rehabilitated.

    Those who think that by trying to keep a lid on these matters we’re “preventing anti-Americanism” or “fighting the propaganda war” or any of that crap are deluded. Nobody but US voters is deceived by any of it. Only full disclosure can create the catharsis necessary to clear the air.

  26. Release, not realize. Sorry.

  27. Nobody but US voters is deceived by any of it.

    I remember outraged sputtering from National Review about “crazy rumors” of Americans abusing people at that prison before the pictures came out.

    As you say, nobody in Iraq or within the broadcast range of Al Jazeera had any troubling knowing that such things were going on.

  28. If Obama is the next President, does he re-open the Abu Ghraib investigation?

    I can think of some other investigations I would like for him to re-open as well.

    Vote Obama (if you live in a close state).

  29. Obama should be civil just because some low ranking enlsited guys harshly interrogated a few anti-semitc, freedom hating, islamic terrorist doesn’t mean that there is a vast conspiracy of any sort. I’m sure Dick Cheney and Rumsfeld were jsut trying to spread freedom like Micahel Young advocates. There is no possible way any of us could have predicted these interrogation techniques would be used and just besides Obama supported patriot act 2 whcih allows the government to use the harsh interrogation techniques on americans now so he can’t act like he is above it all.

    The only intellectually serious thing to do is for Obama to move on to the future and pardon all the high level officials for any and all supposed crimes and we should all hope things will be better from now on.

  30. patriot act 2 whcih allows the government to use the harsh interrogation techniques on americans now

    I’m sorry, but thanks for playing.

  31. Several of the guards already had abuse complaints against them from their work in the civilian prison system. They were people already prone to abuse prisoners.

    So basically they treated Iraqi POW’s the same as they treated American convicts.

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