Friday, May 29, 2009

The torture photos- The bigger picture

I think I've been in denial.  When President Obama annoucned that he had changed his mind about releasing the "new" photos depicting heinous abuse of detainees by US Military personnel, I agreed with him.  I took him at his word that these photos were more of what we had already seen and that they'd serve no greater purpose other than to give our enemies more ammo against us and recruitment tools for the next generation of terrorists.

But we're now learning that, as unbelievable as it sounds, these photos show even more disgusting and despicable acts, committed by our soldiers on their prisoners.  Although the White House is denying the report which first surfaced in the Telegraph UK, based on an interview with Major General Antonio Taguba, the former army officer who conducted an inquiry in the Abu Ghraib prison, new reports are confirming the story.

I'd been reading about the photos on Larissa Alexandrova's blog,, and her viewpoint influenced my thinking enough to invite her on my show for a conversation.  Wd spoke at length today, not only about the photos, but the ramfications of the actions of the president who I had hoped and believed would be different.

A quick postscript:  Just as I was getting ready to post the podcast, I checked back in at atlargely, and saw that Larissa had posted a new blog entry.  In it, she cited Scott Horton, the Columbia law professor and writer for Harper's Magazine, who has now confirmed that the photos President Obama is refusig to release depict sexual abuse.  Here is what Horton has found:

"The Daily Beast has confirmed that the photographs of abuses at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison, which President Obama, in a reversal, decided not to release, depict sexually explicit acts, including a uniformed soldier receiving oral sex from a female prisoner, a government contractor engaged in an act of sodomy with a male prisoner and scenes of forced masturbation, forced exhibition, and penetration involving phosphorous sticks and brooms.

These descriptions come on the heels of a British report yesterday about the photographs that contained some of these revelations—and whose credibility was questioned by the Pentagon.

The Daily Beast has obtained specific corroboration of the British account, which appeared in the London Daily Telegraph, from several reliable sources, including a highly credible senior military officer with firsthand knowledge, who provided even more detail about the graphic photographs that have been withheld from the public by the Obama administration.

A senior military officer familiar with the photos told me that they would likely provoke a storm of outrage if released. The well-informed source confirmed, just as reported in the Telegraph, that many of the photographs are sexually explicit, including those mentioned above. The photographs differ from those already officially released. Some show U.S. personnel engaged in sexual acts with prisoners and each other. In one, a female prisoner appears to have been forced to expose her breasts to be photographed. In another, a prisoner is suspended naked upside down from the top bunk of a bed in a stress position.

Still other withheld photographs have been circulating among U.S. soldiers who served in Iraq. One soldier showed them to me, including a photograph in which a male in a U.S. military uniform receives oral sex from a female prisoner."

Disturbing, to say the very least.

Listen to my interview with Larissa Alexandrovna by clicking here (runtime 36:38)