February 21, 2006

Salon.com First With "New" Abu Ghraib Photos

Well, first an Australian news service puts out some never-before-seen (by the public at least) Abu Ghraib photos and now Salon.com.

The implication in the new photos, as far as I can tell, is that the use of nakedness and sexual humiliation is/was/is systematic and is/was/is communicated from the top down.

Investigators from the Army revealed "a total of 1,325 images of suspected detainee abuse, 93 video files of suspected detainee abuse, 660 images of adult pornography, 546 images of suspected dead Iraqi detainees, 29 images of soldiers in simulated sexual acts, 20 images of a soldier with a Swastika drawn between his eyes, 37 images of Military Working dogs being used in abuse of detainees and 125 images of questionable acts."

This is a heck of alot more images than I imagined existed. The implication here is that early allegations might be right: photographically documenting the abuses was part of a systemic regimen of psychological tactics designed to wear down the "Arab male." It just seems like way too many images and videos to be the work of some sadistic shutterbugs with a lot time on their hands.

I still stand by assessment, which appears in my forthcoming book in a chapter titled "City of Lost Souls," that the actual taking of such photos constituted an act of power and control over the detainees that reestablished the guards' sense of just-world thinking. This is one of the tactics torture states use to retain their torturers--they find ways of demonizing and dehumanizing the enemy so that the torturers feel they are carrying out necessary work against an evil foe. Peter Suedfeld's "Psychology and Torture," a source book on the Psychological dimension of torture and torturing, is a must for anyone trying to understand this phenomena on a more clinical level. It contains articles by several of the most prominent thinkers in this field.

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