My heart went into my throat as I read the headline in the Telegraph this morning: "Abu Ghraib abuse photos 'show rape': Photographs of alleged prisoner abuse which Barack Obama is attempting to censor include images of apparent rape and sexual abuse, it has emerged."
Oh god. Oh god.
The images, according to the story, show one male American soldier raping a female prisoner, a male American translator raping a male prisoner, someone else forcibly removing a female prisoner's clothes to expose her naked breasts, and other sexual assaults being committed on prisoners "with objects including a truncheon, wire, and a phosphorescent tube."
Oh god. Oh god.
Detail of the content emerged from Major General Antonio Taguba, the former army officer who conducted an inquiry into the Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq [who supports Obama's decision to withhold the photos on the basis their release would "imperil our troops"].How the descriptions will not, as President Obama asserted, "inflame anti-American public opinion and to put our troops in greater danger," but the photographs will is beyond me. I am sick to my stomach at the descriptions, totally repulsed, heart-achingly sad, utterly humiliated and regretful and ashamed that my country does such things.
…"The mere description of these pictures is horrendous enough, take my word for it."
It was thought the images were similar to those leaked five years ago, which showed naked and bloody prisoners being intimidated by dogs, dragged around on a leash, piled into a human pyramid and hooded and attached to wires.Sickened. I am sickened.
Mr Obama seemed to reinforce that view by adding: "I want to emphasise that these photos that were requested in this case are not particularly sensational, especially when compared to the painful images that we remember from Abu Ghraib."
When the original images were released, I was angry (and still am) that they were not rightly identified by most news outlets, no less our government, as evidence of widespread sexual assault. Now, here we have graphic evidence of penetrative rape, and our president says the images are "not particularly sensational," especially when compared to previously released images.
Unfortunately, I strongly suspect that is not indicative of our president and his advisors having recognized the nature of profound sexual exploitation in the original photos, but of what was a disgusting attempt to diminish the gravity of what is found in the unreleased photos, in order to justify their continued embargo.
When I finished reading the article, I could do nothing but quietly sob, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry…" into my hands, apologizing to people who will never hear me, crushed with the unbearable pain of knowing precisely what they've suffered and that it was done in my name, ostensibly to protect me, when I would have risked dying at their hands myself to save them from being raped.
Rarely does the world feel more fucked up to me than it does right now.