By Robert Fisk
08 May 2004
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.
The 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
Could 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?
And who were the
innocent in these vile photographs? The American torturers and humiliators?
Or the Iraqi victims?
President 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 true.
But, 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.
Not 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 police.
I'm 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 reason.
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?
I 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.
I 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.
So 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?
Who 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 lingerie?
We 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.
Lynndie 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?
Yes, 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 our racism.
The 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.
Copyright: The Independent