our enemies created the suicide bomber. Now, we
have our own digital suicide bomber, the camera.
Just look at the way US army reservist Lynndie
England holds the leash of the naked, bearded
Iraqi. Take a close look at the leather strap,
the pain on the prisoner's face. No sadistic movie
could outdo the damage of this image. In September
2001, the planes smashed into the buildings; today,
Lynndie smashes to pieces our entire morality
with just one tug on the leash.
Muslim suicide bomber cries Allahu Akbar, God
is great. And what does Specialist Charles Graner
-- Lynndie's partner-in-crime, the man who appears
in several of the torture photographs posing with
Lynndie behind a pyramid of naked Iraqi prisoners
-- do back home in Pennsylvania? Why, his garden
is plastered with a legend from the Book of Hosea,
about sowing and righteousness and ploughing.
ever Islam have come so intimately into contact
with the sexuality of the Old Testament? Could
neo-conservative Christianity -- Lynndie is also
a churchgoer -- have collided so violently, so
revoltingly, so obscenely with Islam?
who were the innocent in these vile photographs?
The American torturers and humiliators? Or the
Bush is fearful of Arab reaction to these pictures.
Why? For a year now, Iraqis have been trying to
tell journalists of the brutal treatment they
are receiving at the hands of their occupiers.
They don't need these incriminating photographs
to prove to them what they already know to be
in the history of the Middle East, these pictures
already have the status of those most damaging
snapshots of the Vietnam war: the police chief
in Saigon executing his Vietcong prisoner, the
naked girl burnt by napalm, the pile of bodies
at My Lai. For Arabs, read Deir Yassin and the
corpses piled in the Palestinian refugee camp
of Sabra and Chatila in 1982.
long after the occupation of Baghdad in April
of last year, we got our hands on videotape of
the whipping of Iraqi prisoners by Saddam's security
not sure which circle of hell the victims were
enduring in the 45 minutes of sadism which I still
have on one tape. They are whipped, they are kicked
into sewers and they cower like dogs. And why
were these war crimes filmed? I thought at first
that it was intended for the enjoyment of Saddam
or his disgusting son Uday. But now I realise
the videos were taken so that the prisoners could
be humiliated. Their suffering, their pathetic
pleas for mercy were to be recorded -- to add
the final layer of degradation to their fate.
And now I realise, too, that the pictures of the
Iraqis so cruelly treated -- so tortured -- by
the Americans, were taken for precisely the same
decided that the photos would be the final straw,
the breaking point, the moment of capitulation
for these young men. Make them simulate oral sex.
Make them look at the penis of their best friend.
Get a girl to admire their attempted erection.
This was truly Saddamite in its perversity. So
let's, as the Americans say, get real. Who taught
Lynndie and her boyfriend and the other American
sadists of Abu Ghraib prison to do this?
used to ask who taught the Syrian and Iraqi secret
police to do this. The answer to the latter question
was simple: the East German secret police. But
the answer to the first question? Well, we have
been told that there were "contracted" interrogators
at Abu Ghraib.
have reason to believe General Janis Karpinski,
the luckless prison commander who is going to
be dumped out of the army for interrogations over
which she had no control, knew "outsiders" were
questioning her inmates. She was never allowed
into the interrogation room. And I can see why.
So, no doubt, can she.
who were these mysterious "interrogators"? If
they were not CIA or FBI staff, who were they?
Several names are already doing the rounds --
journalists claim they have no final proof --
and a number, I understand, hold more than one
passport. Why were they brought to Abu Ghraib?
Who brought them? How much are they paid? And
who trained them?
taught them it was a good idea to get a girl to
point at an Arab who was being forced to masturbate,
to humiliate an Iraqi by hooding him with a girl's
are not just talking "sick" here. We're talking
professionals. President Bush at last apologised
yesterday to the Arab world for this filth --
only, no doubt, because of the latest picture
on the front of The Washington Post -- but the
constant, insistent refrain from US officers that
these were a tiny group of unrepresentative Americans
makes me very suspicious.
and her boyfriend were not part of a "rogue" unit.
They were told to do these despicable things.
They were encouraged. This was an order from someone.
Who? When can we see their pictures, their identity,
their passports, their orders?
it's part of a culture, a long tradition that
goes back to the Crusades; that the Muslim is
dirty, lascivious, unChristian, unworthy of humanity
-- which is pretty much what Osama bin Laden (now
forgotten by Mr Bush, I notice) believes about
us Westerners. And our illegal, immoral, meretricious
war has now brought forth the images that betray
hooded man with the wires attached to his hands
has now become an iconic portrait, every bit as
memorable as the picture of the second aircraft
flying into the World Trade Centre. No, of course,
we haven't killed 3,000 Iraqis. We've killed many
more. And the same goes for Afghanistan.
Fisk is a reporter for The Independent and author
of Pity the Nation. He is also a contributor to
CounterPunch's hot new book, The Politics of Anti-Semitism.
Posted: May 23, 2004