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Judge orders Abu Ghraib photos, videos released

“Basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys/children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. The worst about all of them is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror it’s going to come out.”

— Journalist Sy Hersh, in a 2004 speech, on rapes of minors by U.S. soldiers caught on camera at Abu Ghraib

Bad timing for the Chimperor and his whimpering minions, eh? (AP):

A federal judge Thursday ordered the release of dozens more pictures of prisoners being abused at Abu Ghraib, rejecting government arguments that the images would provoke terrorists and incite violence against U.S. troops in Iraq.

U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein said that terrorists “do not need pretexts for their barbarism” and that suppressing the pictures would amount to submitting to blackmail.

“Our nation does not surrender to blackmail, and fear of blackmail is not a legally sufficient argument to prevent us from performing a statutory command. Indeed, the freedoms that we champion are as important to our success in Iraq and Afghanistan as the guns and missiles with which our troops are armed,” he said.

Hellerstein ordered the release of 74 pictures and three videotapes from the Abu Ghraib prison, potentially opening the military up to more embarrassment from a scandal that stirred outrage around the world last year when photos of 2003 abuse became public.

Sy Hersh‘s May 2004 New Yorker, article “Chain of Command” covered the surfacing of these images.

In his news conference last Tuesday, Rumsfeld, when asked whether he thought the photographs and stories from Abu Ghraib were a setback for American policy in Iraq, still seemed to be in denial. “Oh, I’m not one for instant history,” he responded. By Friday, however, with some members of Congress and with editorials calling for his resignation, Rumsfeld testified at length before House and Senate committees and apologized for what he said was “fundamentally un-American” wrongdoing at Abu Ghraib. He also warned that more, and even uglier, disclosures were to come. Rumsfeld said that he had not actually looked at any of the Abu Ghraib photographs until some of them appeared in press accounts, and hadn’t reviewed the Army’s copies until the day before. When he did, they were “hard to believe,” he said. “There are other photos that depict . . . acts that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel, and inhuman.” Later, he said, “It’s going to get still more terrible, I’m afraid.” Rumsfeld added, “I failed to recognize how important it was.”

NBC News later quoted U.S. military officials as saying that the unreleased photographs showed American soldiers “severely beating an Iraqi prisoner nearly to death, having sex with a female Iraqi prisoner, and ‘acting inappropriately with a dead body.’ The officials said there also was a videotape, apparently shot by U.S. personnel, showing Iraqi guards raping young boys.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding