The prison is located in Abu Ghraib, a city 32km West of Baghdad. It has been around since the 60s, and was previously under Sadaam’s control, where it was known as a bit of a torture camp. Apparently it was known as having some of the worst cases of torture in the modern world. It sounds huge; it is estimated as being the size of a small town. (1) In 2003, the compound became responsible for foreign prisoners, long sentences, short sentences, capital crimes and "special" crimes. On the 22nd April 2003, the US military took over the camp and named it ‘Camp Redemption’ and used it to house problem inmates and those that were security risks (2). _____________________________________________________________ (1) Asser. M. Abu Ghraib: Dark stain on Iraq's past, 2004, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3747005.stm (2) Wikipedia, Abu Ghraib Prison, 2007, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abu_Ghraib_prison
So how did the scandal come about? In late summer the population in the prison grew massively and the prison guards began to feel overwhelmed and stressed. Specialist Joseph Darby returned from a weekend away to rumours of a shooting in one of the blocks. He asked the military police for any photos or evidence relating to what happened. He was given a CD and on it were hundreds of photos showing the horrific abuse that Iraqi inmates were suffering (1). Then on 13 January 2004, Darby handed the CD to the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command (CID) as he decided it was the right thing to do. An investigation was then launched into the matter by CID. Lots of people were interviewed, including a number of Iraqis who claimed to have been abused (1). These interviews were actually leaked to The Washington Post by an unknown source not long after (2). Then further photos were leaked to the media, supposedly by a relative of military policeman. Initially, they were given to the CBS program 60 Minutes in mid April 2004, but broadcasting was delayed until April 28 at request of General Richard B Myers, Chairman of Joint Chief of Staff for unknown reasons (2). More photos were released soon after the program aired. It is though the photos were taken across 7 days in October, November and December 2003 (2). After all this went to the media, a major investigation was launched by the United States, headed by high level investigator Taguba (1). _____________________________________________________________ (1) Danner, Torture and Truth, p. 215-216.
(2) Whitney, The Abu Ghraib Investigations, p. VII-XXIII.
Taguba found the entire brigade was inadequately trained for the mission (1). What was interesting is that a lot of these people were simple reservists or new recruits. He found a “general lack of knowledge, implementation, and emphasis of basic legal, regulatory, doctrinal and command requirements” (1). He also found what he viewed as acts of illegal and intentional abuse of prisoners and felt prosecution should occur (2). The Red Cross also visited Abu Ghraib in order to conduct investigations into torture and they found evidence of multiple instances of it. In particular, they found instances of hooding to prevent people from seeing and breathing freely, and also to disorient them, sexual humiliation, for example being paraded around naked in front of others, creating anxiety through dog attacks and being forced to stay in stress positions (like squatting) for days on end. These do not describe everything they found, just some small incidences (3). Pretty much the reason that the world knows about these events is because Darby felt compelled to share what he discovered by accident, and also because concerned soldiers and their families chose to reveal further information. As a result of this, the global media dug deeper and obtained the Red Cross Report and the Taguba report, both of which we mentioned earlier, which were then broadcast to the world. _____________________________________________________________ (1) Whitney, The...
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