X-Rated Iraq: A Tortured Story
By Captain Eric H. May
most fun thing? Definitely the women.
— Soldier X
An anonymous man wearing a US Special Forces T-shirt is a war criminal, if his three-minute YouTube interview is to be believed. In it, he claims to have taken part in routine torture of Iraqis — Hajji’s in soldier slang — in the infamous Abu Ghraib prison, and to have been part of a scheme with other guards to prostitute a 15-year-old Iraqi girl who later hung herself.
YouTube continues to be the worst nightmare of a White House that has practiced infowar — the militarization of information — since 9/11. I heartily encourage each of my readers to view the clip, then make his or her own decision as to whether or not to believe that Soldier X is in earnest, as my military contacts and I believe, or is part of a well-acted hoax, as Bush apologists are arguing.
If Soldier X is telling the truth, he isn’t telling us anything new. In April 2004, American journalist Seymour Hersh was writing in articles and saying in interviews that the shocking treatment of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib, proved by photographs, was systemic, encouraged and enabled by the CIA, and was expressly okay-ed by the Bush administration.
CIA showed us a lot of shit, man.
– Soldier X
It bears remembering that the US government and the US media collaborated to keep the vast majority of the photographic record detailing torture, rape and murder from the American people and the international community. While endless images of 9/11 were completely kosher for broadcast and print by a cheerleader media that took its signals from a cheerleader- in-chief, the images of our war crimes were not.
It all started at Guantanamo Bay, apparently, and was exported to Abu Ghraib in September 2003, along with Major General Geoffrey Miller, the Gitmo commandant who was willing to teach the special touch to our soldiers in Iraq. Specialist Alyssa Peterson, a former Mormon missionary and military intelligence soldier serving in the US detention apparatus in Iraq, made strong objections to what she saw after Miller took charge in Iraq — and died from a shot in the head a few days later. Military officials at first called it a weapons discharge, then later labeled it a suicide.
A few days earlier, Captain James Yee, a veteran of the first Iraq war and West Point graduate, had been arrested and detained as he traveled to the US from Gitmo, where he was serving as a Muslim chaplain. The military would later release and discharge him without charges, after months of media repetition of the official line, which was that he was a traitor. When he was arrested I wrote an e-mail to my friend Chase Untermeyer, a former Assistant Secretary of the Navy, guessing that the chaplain was trying to make a report of abuses. Ever cynical, I even suggested that torture and sexual degradation were at the bottom of it all — and am sorry to find that I was right. Citizens who have heard ad nauseum that there’s no way we could have seen Abu Ghraib coming should read my e-mail to Untermeyer.
the big deal about making a Hajji walk around like a dog and bark?
– Soldier X
Infowar is still being waged against the American people by my former colleagues in military public affairs and the mainstream media. Accordingly, not one in a hundred Americans has a clue that the five-year war in Iraq, once sold to us as a spring fling to quickly snatch up WMD’s and liberate a pro-US Iraqi people, has resulted in around one million Iraqi dead and four million Iraqi refugees. Like the misinformed masses of Orwell’s Oceania, most Americans don’t even realize that the current official objective of fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq wasn’t always the objective.
One of the lessons of Abu Ghraib is that we are now fighting a genocidal war against Arabs for oil, just as we once fought a genocidal war against Indians for land. Soldier X, who believes that all Arabs are guilty, is a brutal reminder of the innumerable soldiers who once believed that the only good Indian was a dead Indian. Like the Indians of yesteryear, the Arabs of today have what we want. In such cases, it has always been necessary for our nation to be deceived into thinking that extermination is self defense, and that the human beings we are exterminating aren’t very human anyway.
Another lesson of Abu Ghraib is that torture, rape and murder are things that can quite easily be taught to the boy or girl next door. There is no immunity in the American character to war crime — nor is there any assurance that what we practice abroad will not be practiced against us at home. In the last week, President George Bush has argued the benefits of torture; presidential candidate Senator John McCain has decided that his former dislike of torture was misplaced; Attorney General Michael Mukasey has refused to define waterboarding as torture; and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has expressed the opinion that torture is not unconstitutional. General Sherman was right when he said that war was hell, and these are the devils who guide us to it as they order lesser demons like Soldier X to do their bidding.
May is a former Army military intelligence and public affairs
officer, as well as a former NBC editorial writer. His political and
military analyses have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Houston
Chronicle and Military Intelligence Magazine. He can be reached at:
firstname.lastname@example.org. visit Captain Eric's website.