Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Is Christopher Hitchens right? In an angry and surprisingly good column called "A Moral Chernobyl," he says of the prison torture scandal,

...get ready. It is going to get much worse. The graphic videos and photographs that have so far been shown only to Congress are, I have been persuaded by someone who has seen them, not likely to remain secret for very long.... There will probably be a slight difficulty about showing these scenes in prime time, but they will emerge, never fear. We may have to start using blunt words like murder and rape to describe what we see.

I'm not sure I believe it. The mainstream press has been cautious about torture imagery -- there have been new stories but few new images, and nothing truly brutal -- ever since it was suggested that the Abu Ghraib photos killed Nick Berg. In addition, as a rule the networks and newspapers simply don't like to show blood -- in photos of Abu Ghraib or videos of Westerners killed by terrorists or, for that matter, footage of car crashes. The result of all this is that prison abuse continues to be treated as a joke in some circles, nothing more than naked monkey piles and panties on men's heads.

I have found a couple of bloody photos said to be taken at Abu Ghraib -- not at a legitimate news source but at Ogrish, the porn-and-atrocity-photo site, which has also played host to the death videos of Danny Pearl, Nick Berg, and Robert Jacob, a contractor just killed in Saudi Arabia. I don't know whether these are legit, but they're a little worse than the ones you've seen elsewhere, especially #3:

1, 2, 3.

But even these pictures don't show what Hitchens is talking about.

I really think the lid might stay on -- the story will continue to be reported, but I don't know if we'll ever see pictures that differ significantly from the ones we've already seen. Certainly that's what the Bush administration wants.


Incidentally, even Michael Moore, who has detainee footage in Fahrenheit 9/11, apparently doesn't show violence:

Moore captured the footage for his documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11," which debuts in theaters nationwide June 25. It shows an American soldier fondling a prisoner's genitals through a blanket. Soldiers also laugh and pose for photos while putting hoods over Iraqi detainees.

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