May 10, 2004


Iraqi human rights groups exploring prisoner abuse arenít falling for any opportunistic fakery:

Fallujah native Abdul-Qader Abdul-Rahman al-Ani, his left elbow wrapped in bandages, his right forearm bound in a cast, recounted how he was beaten by soldiers who picked him up last month. The soldiers tied him and two others arrested with him to a tree and sodomized them one after the other, he told journalists.

"I ask President Bush," he said. "Does he agree with this?"

As Ani, 47, repeated his story, he was interrupted by Jabber al-Okaili, a member of one of the human rights groups that organized the gathering. "He's lying," al-Okaili shouted. "He's a liar!"

Al-Ani was rushed to an office, where al-Okaili and others unwound the bandage on his left arm and found the elbow unscarred and healthy. They cut off half of the cast on his forearm, even as al-Ani insisted, "By God, it's true, everything I say is true."

UPDATE. More fakery, this time in Arab newspapers. As if the genuine abuse wasn't bad enough ...

UPDATE II. SBS television just showed German news footage of Ani making his disputed claim -- and that's all. No mention of anybody calling him a liar.

Posted by Tim Blair at May 10, 2004 02:23 PM

I have to say this single incident puts the whole prisoner abuse scandal in its proper perspective. Lying Arabs. They probably faked the whole thing. They enjoy the abuse. THEY WERE ASKING FOR IT.

Posted by: Rat Person at May 10, 2004 at 02:31 PM

hey, give the guy a break, but the wounds were pychological. Lots of wankers develop psychosomatic injuries to their elbows.

Posted by: Giles at May 10, 2004 at 02:35 PM

When trolls like Rat Person pretend to be racist pigs, is it because wen're not doing a good enough job for them?

Posted by: Sortelli at May 10, 2004 at 02:43 PM

Wow. First fake WMD. Then fake turkeys. Now fake injuries.

What next? Fake moral high ground? Fake freedom for Iraq? Fake War on Terror? Fake contrition from the White House thugs? Oh no, sorry - that's already happening.

Keep up the good work, boys. Couldn't be doing a better job myself.


Posted by: Osama Bin Laughin at May 10, 2004 at 02:46 PM

Did they check outif he'd been sodomised also?
Are there any photos?

Posted by: narkynark at May 10, 2004 at 02:46 PM

Nemesis, if someone points out later that you freely put yourself on Osama's side, will you complain or just make some bland wankoff about how no one should take sides?

Posted by: Sortelli at May 10, 2004 at 02:52 PM

Well, the trolls are out in force on this one! We are truly blessed. Let's see, now......

I seriously doubt the prisoners asked for the abuse. But since Rat Peterson seems drawn to abuse of any form, I should remind him that he can indulge himself at any time, and note that he can always type with one hand.

The OBL wannabe fails to note that the injury was faked by an Iraqi, and discovered by an Iraqi. Since this is clearly stated in the article, I can only assume that his eyesight is poor, giving rise to speculation based on that old story where masturbation causes one to go blind.

And then we have our old friend narkynark, who is fixated on sodomy. His post is clearly sarcastic, so I will only comment that his fixation is no doubt due to his permanent condition of his head being firmly up his rectum.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at May 10, 2004 at 03:03 PM

I fear that what this points to - that is, amongst more adept practitioners of the art than Abdul Qader - is a growing savviness amongst the enemy for media manipulation.

With all rightful qualifications about the actionable stupidity of the prison guards at Abu Ghraib, the word 'torture' has now been bowdlerised to include hitherto unexceptional norms of incarceration. Nakedness, the presence of dogs, the collectivation of behaviour and the deliberate diminution of inmate individuality are all found in the most civilised of prisons.

Dostoevsky's well-known maxim about judging a society on how it treats its prisoners is even more applicable in the culturally sensitive context of an attempt to build a democratic peace in a place like Iraq. Nevertheless, it is completely dishonest to represent an aberration as typical, then extrapolate - a la Robert Fisk - a condemnation of the whole Iraqi Freedom project.

But this is what we should brace ourselves to see increasingly in the weeks and months ahead. Some of it will come from the Defence Department's own enquiries and we should vehemently condemn the substantiated instances of abuse it reveals. This doesn't mean we have to change the very meaning of language or hold ourselves to a Dostoevskian standard postulated on Al Jazeera and elsewhere by manipulative, lying criminals.

Only good news stories - big ones - are the smart bombs that can shock and awe the media into broadening their focus. I fear if this doesn't happen soon, we'll be presubjected to a Fiskian Mock and Bore campaign that may rapidly 'attrit' the still vast reservoir of good will towards the Coalition in Iraq.

Posted by: CurrencyLad at May 10, 2004 at 03:11 PM

Just read your update, Tim. The only good thing about all this fakery is that the wankers have to falsify this crap -- there's so little of any actual abuse, and that is already being handled.

But it's stupid that the Arab press feels compelled to do this, and at the national level at that. If a major US newspaper published faked pictures of Arab men raping foreign women, there's be a backlash from the Arab world, you betcha!

Erase "stupid" -- insert "hypocritical"

Posted by: The Real JeffS at May 10, 2004 at 03:13 PM

CurrencyLad -- sadly, your analysis rings true. If nothing else, the jerks above confirm that.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at May 10, 2004 at 03:16 PM

Dude, Jeff, you didn't recognize OBL's email and trademark spin? That thar be our darling Nemesis, rushing in to drop his log and running like a chickenshit before someone points out the inherent flaws, dishonesty, or just plain idiocy that drops from out of every paragraph he writes.

In this case:

1) "Fake" WMD, there were none. The administration did not plant fake WMD in Iraq to bolster their case. The intelligence we had that pointed to WMD was not falsified. Ironically, Nemmie has to be dishonest to make his case.

2) Fake turkeys. . . now, I seem to forget who tells that lie. I'm sure I will remember soon.

3) Fake injuries. I am confused as to how faking Iraqi injuries is an evil Karl Rove plot to further the Bush Administration's control over the entire world. How did parroting false anti-war memes jump to something that would undermine anti-war talking points? Reading too much MoDo might be screwing up your ability to form coherent and logically compatable thoughts, Nem. Just a guess.

4) Fake moral high ground. Even a jackass like Jack Strocchi can't argue that it was morally wrong to oust Saddam.

5) Fake freedom for Iraq. It is a pity that all the critical Iraqi bloggers have been rounded up and executed by the brutal Coalition forces. Wait, that hasn't happened? You mean Nemesis is LYING again?

6) Fake War on Terror. I guess Iraq is not really part of the war on terror even though there are terrorists trying to kill our troops in Iraq. Silly terrorists! Why doesn't someone let them know that's a distraction that has nothing to do with them?

7) Fake contrition from the White House. You can tell it's fake contrition because Bush didn't say "Sorry I'm evil, I am withdrawing all my evil forces from the world and disbanding my evil armies. We'll stop being the Great Satan now"

And finally, it's curious to see that Osama and Nemesis both seem to take glee from every difficulty that arises in Iraq. Hrm.

Posted by: Sortelli at May 10, 2004 at 03:25 PM

A topic attracts 10 comments in total (so far) and "the trolls are out in force"?
Poor petal.

Posted by: No, I'm the real JeffS at May 10, 2004 at 04:05 PM

I want to complain- I wasn't sodomised.

Posted by: Habib at May 10, 2004 at 04:10 PM

A topic attracts 10 comments in total (so far) and "the trolls are out in force"?
Poor petal.

A lesson in logic, percentages, and math, for the clueless:

When JeffS posted his comment about trolls, there were only six (6) previous comments. Three (3) of them had been made by trolls. Three out of six is 50%. Since the vast majority of posts here do not have anywhere near 1/2 of the comments made by trolls, it can easily be inferred that the trolls are, indeed, out in force.

Posted by: david at May 10, 2004 at 04:25 PM

Yo, Sortelli!

No, I didn't recognize the signs of Nemesis. Now that I have learned from The Master, I shall not forget his scat signs. Good points about that post; it was one big fake. ;-)

It's amazing how a good thing really ticks off the left. A member of an Iraqi human rights groups finds someone falsifying evidence against US forces, and the trolls swoop in with their lies, misdirection, and disinformation. One would think that the left would applaud complete investigations of reported abuse by the being the left wants everyone to leave the Iraqis alone.

This is especially puzzling given that other people came forward with real injuries, according to that article. Perhaps this faked injury might throw doubt on the authenticity of the other reports? This ought to be telling the left, "Hey, lighten up! Maybe the Coalition isn't oppressing Iraq after all! Better keep an open mind!"

And that's why the trolls are in force tonight. 13 posts by 7 people or so....and 4 trolls. And the post is only a few hours old.

Couldn't have anyone being positive about this, now could we? [/sarcasm]

Posted by: The Real JeffS at May 10, 2004 at 04:26 PM

Habib, I'll have to forward that complaint to narkynark. That seems to be his piece of cake. Or piece of something.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at May 10, 2004 at 04:28 PM


Seriously, though, one guy caught faking abuse doesn't mean all the abuse is fake. Nor does what happened at Abu Gharib mean that every coalition soldier or contractor is out butchering Iraqis and hanging their maimed, burned bodies from bridges.

Posted by: Sortelli at May 10, 2004 at 04:41 PM

I agree, Sortelli. The evidence has to be examined closely and impartially; the possibility of other abuse remains open. The good news is that some people are willing to be open minded about the possibility of fakery. It does not automatically exclude all reports, and should not in any case. I didn't make that clear, and I'd like to. Thanks for pointing that out.

It's just that after months of Fiskisms and Pilger crap polluting the planet, this is a breath of fresh air. And reported by the Associated Press, no less.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at May 10, 2004 at 04:49 PM

so what about the porno photo's published in the press - looks like any excuse to me.

Posted by: Giles at May 10, 2004 at 04:52 PM

Look at it this way. This is the anti-war equivilent of Saddam's capture. This is their chance to clap their hands with giddy happiness and run around waving Abu Gharib in our faces as some sort of badge of their cosmic rightness, which, admit it, is what we did when they dragged Saddam out of his hole. We wanted to catch them going "Oh, yeah, it's great that Saddam got caught ... BUTBUSHCHENYHALLIBURTONOIL!" so we could point and laugh at the verbal gymnastics as they tried to proclaim how happy they were that the war they opposed was able to bring an evil man to justice.

There is no "but" in this case. What happened at Abu Gharib was wrong, period. Never qualify it with a "but". Don't say "yeah, but some of the abuse was fake" or "yeah, but we still did the right thing". That's what they want to see. Instead let's just all agree that this kind of abuse must be stopped and must be punished, and that's already being done. There's no reason to play into the hands of cranks like Nemesis who are suddenly and conviently outraged NOW that Iraqis have been mistreated. Remember that when it comes down to it, Nemmie and his pals don't have the wit or the will to do a damn thing about prison abuse anywhere in the world. They're only happy to see something go wrong. When something goes right, they'll scurry back under the sofa like roaches.

Posted by: Sortelli at May 10, 2004 at 05:15 PM

How disgraceful. Before sodomizing him, they could at least have taken him out to dinner.

Posted by: Mike Hunt at May 10, 2004 at 05:20 PM

I doubt that many allied soldiers would have the bad taste to 'sodomise' a prisoner, it isnt really part of our culture, is it?

But you have to wonder about cultures with folksongs including the words:

"there's a boy across the river with a bottom like a peach,
But alas, I cannot swim."

Talk about projection. They accuse us of every antisocial act that is part of Arab culture.

Posted by: dee at May 10, 2004 at 05:22 PM

Mike Hunt:

If you read the article carefully, you will see that the accuser had faked his injuries. By implication, the rest of his story can't accepted at face value. Simply put, he lied. And that's not my conclusion, that's in the article. So, in this specific case, there was no sodomy.

Thus, your humor is ill placed. Try taking narkynark out to dinner, and see how well the pair of you get together. You seem to have a lot in common.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at May 10, 2004 at 05:30 PM

They may have been Arkansas kayak fanciers prior to enlistment- after all, if Ned Beatty is regarded as fair game, what's the limit?

Posted by: Habib at May 10, 2004 at 05:36 PM

Aw, lighten up, man. I always love a good sodomy joke. :P

Posted by: Sortelli at May 10, 2004 at 05:39 PM

Okay, now the second update pisses me off. That guy needs to be debunked.

Posted by: Sortelli at May 10, 2004 at 05:44 PM

Hey Jeffo. you got a monopoly on moral indignation or something?

Listen, you poor humourless jackass, doesn't it cross your tiny mind that treating this claim with sarcasm is another way of showing up its essential phoniness? We're on the same side, you know. Lighten up and learn some subtlety.

Posted by: narkynark at May 10, 2004 at 05:46 PM

I've said it before and I'll say it again: torture of detainees is reprehensible and foul. On the other hand, a very large number of the people in Abu Ghraib are very, very bad. So, my view: torture them? Absolutely not. We don't do that shit. Shoot them? Yup. Much vaunted holy texts of liberals (Geneva/Hague conventions) say that's just dandy.

Posted by: David Gillies at May 10, 2004 at 05:57 PM

Hey, Habib, good to see you on board, man. It was getting really heavy here with all the spurious righteousness flying around. What's with this Jeffo guy anyway? Is he a priest or something? Seems no-one is allowed to crack a sodomy joke on this blog. Obviously he's never been down to the pub with the guys after a RL match.

Posted by: narkynark at May 10, 2004 at 06:07 PM

Fornicators, sodomites and masticators: you infidels are all destined for Hell.


Posted by: AKBAR THE GREAT at May 10, 2004 at 06:34 PM

Oooh, you little fibber.

Posted by: Nemesis at May 10, 2004 at 06:40 PM

Damn! You caught me out! Curses!

Posted by: Sortelli at May 10, 2004 at 06:41 PM

Wow, a massive 32 comments.
And, shock horror, some of them with alternate opinions and ........ humour.
Ya'all better be careful of that troll force.

Posted by: I'm JeffS, and so is my wife at May 10, 2004 at 07:18 PM

Yeah, you masticators are especially evil.

Posted by: narkynark at May 10, 2004 at 07:37 PM

If he was a priest, he'd be over joining the "resistance".

Posted by: Habib at May 10, 2004 at 07:39 PM

The trolls have been banned since they added nothing valuable to the discussion. By the way guys, no appropriation of each others' names. I match IPs to nics, but I could possibly (don't tell anyone else this or I'll have you killed) make a mistake. Play nice. 8|

Posted by: Andrea Harris at May 10, 2004 at 08:11 PM

It seems to me that we've seen a lot of pictures of humiliation but very few of actual torture. I'm not condoning torture, but the female MP splashed on the front cover of The Age today surely didn't deserve the ridicule if all she is responsible for is having a bunch of obvious bad guys - they were in prison for a reason - strip naked and be humiliated.

Much of the response from the various Arab-Muslim commentators that I have seen also seems to be more worried about the fact that a woman was involved.

"Saddam may have been a bastard", they say, "but at least he was a male bastard." It seems that it was better to be thrown into a shredder by a guy than have a gal make you dance around with your goulies on display.

Posted by: Adam Indikt at May 10, 2004 at 11:25 PM

So you disagree with the adherence to the Geneva Conventions Adam? Because torture has a fairly wide definition in that document, AFAIK. My (admittedly very brief) understanding is that the inflicting of pain in interrogation, whether physical or mental, is not permitted. Btw, I'm not here to pile on and act all happy about this, however, like Sortelli said, these "buts" and diminshing talk of "the presence" of dogs do cause me to cock an eyebrow... (the unreleased pictures including dogs also contain the "the presence" of blood-gushing wounds, according to Seymour Hersh, the journo who broke the story).

Anyway, there's a whole stack of links on the topic in this thread at Metafilter, if anyone wants to read up on the whole debacle.

Posted by: bleh at May 11, 2004 at 12:56 AM

Adam, bleh is right on the definition of torture in the Geneva Convention. True, other nations and cultures would view some of this as a frat party trick, but that's not so in the USA. Further, under the Geneva Convention, soldiers are required to protect their prisoners. Abusing them is not protecting them.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at May 11, 2004 at 01:09 AM

narkynark, my "moral indignation" is more like "moral outrage". Your statement implied approval or support for sodomizing prisoners. In case you haven't noticed, people supporting prisoner abuse in this forum have been corrected all along.

If you were being sarcastic, you need to improve your technique.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at May 11, 2004 at 01:13 AM

In regards to the idea that this is humiliation and not torture, while probably true, the reason it is getting so much publicity is that humiliation is worse than physical torture.

Physical pain is much easier to deal with.

Posted by: aaron at May 11, 2004 at 03:29 AM

The Geneva Convention (specifically, the Third Convention of 1929) is inoperative in this situation. These aren't regular army POW's. It is hard to see how the insurgents satisfy any of the four criteria for being a lawful combatant under section 4A(2):
(a) that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;
(b) that of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;
(c) that of carrying arms openly;
(d) that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

The Coalition forces have pledged to adhere to the provisions of the Geneva Convention but from a legal standpoint these detainees are not subject to its protections. Under the laws of war, irregular forces are liable to summary execution. Further, since Iraq is not signatory to any of the Geneva Conventions and has by any reasonable measure violated their provisions, it is entirely at the discretion of Coalition forces whether they adhere to them when it comes to treatment of Iraqi POWs (this is Article 2 in the Third Convention).

Naturally, there is no question that they will adhere to the Conventions, which is, among other reasons, why the perpetrators of these abuses will end up being very strictly punished. But let's not get into the fiction that all of these prisoners were meek little lambs. I'm not saying they got what they deserved and I'm not condoning the treatment they suffered. But I would like to see a far more robust judicial response to them, up to and including putting them on the receiving end of a firing squad.

Posted by: David Gillies at May 11, 2004 at 03:37 AM

The Geneva Conventions have barely been adhered to through this century. The US and Britain are two of only a handful of countries that actually give the conventions weight and put themselves at pains to try to comply. The fact remains that humiliation, while prohibited, is not torture. You will find that although humiliation is prohibited, it is not defined as torture.

Also, the fact that the US military was aware and was dealing with the criminal conduct at the time of the 60 Minutes II report - evidence I would argue of an open and properly operating judicial structure - is to be praised.

As to torture, the circumstances under which physical and psychological measures can be taken are not as clearcut as you makeout. There is precedent for the use of limited physical pressure to obtain time critical information of terrorist attacks and the like from prisoners. Australian security services dealt with these issues before the Sydney Olympics. The Israeli Supreme Court, one of the few to even deal with such issues due to the high threat environment that exists there, determined a limited range of circumstances and means that could be used. Moreover, there is every evidence that the Israeli security services comply with the court rulings.

This is how democratic societies, where the rule of law actually works, function. Laws and guidelines are set and, when infringed upon, are enforced as the US is doing now. Far from a permanent stain - surely it is a stain - if addressed properly, judicially, by the US military then it is evidence of a system to be followed, not reviled.

Posted by: Adam Indikt at May 11, 2004 at 11:22 PM

The only thing wrong was the unprofessional way the torture was carried out. So much for the Co-ed army.

Posted by: Walter Wallis at May 12, 2004 at 12:20 AM

Thai TV this morning started MY day with a showing of the ugliest part of The Nick Berg Obituary VDO...

THAT's the face of the enemy! Hooded, 5-to-1 against a bound, helpless victim who was there HELPING their people...

Put Abu Ghraib into proportion. People who only speak the language of 'dominance-and-violence' need to hear our position in terms they'll understand: dominant violence wrought upon their combatants!

Posted by: Sharpshooter at May 12, 2004 at 07:57 PM

You neos are bunch a laffs.
Great work. The war and all. Nice f'ing work.

Posted by: leftererere at May 13, 2004 at 10:53 AM

"...the reason it is getting so much publicity is that humiliation is worse than physical torture."

Oh, come on, aaron. The reason it is getting so much publicity is because it can be used against the U.S. internationally and against Bush domestically.

Are you saying if the prisoners were fully clothed and were being physically tortured by male soldiers, that photos of that would not get the same publicity?

I don't think so.

Posted by: Les Nessman at May 13, 2004 at 11:50 AM

I find it difficult to believe that the mental "torture" depicted in these pictures is worse than physical torture. Let's see, which is worse? Being photographed naked or (take your pick): (1) having your fingernails pulled out one by one; (2) having your eyes gouged out; (3) having electric current applied to one's genitals; (4) having one's teeth pulled without anesthesia; .... (I could go on, but I suspect you get the idea).

Posted by: Erik at May 14, 2004 at 10:59 AM