U.S. Bans Release of Photos Showing Iraq Abuses, Including the Rape of Detainees
Photographs have surfaced showing the rape and other sexual assaults carried out by American soldiers on Iraqi detainees which U.S. President Barack Obama had tried to prevent the release of, reports the Daily Telegraph.
At least one photo shows a female prisoner being raped by an American soldier and another showing a male detainee being raped by an American male translator.
Other pictures show various types of sexual assault on detainees, including the use of objects like truncheons, wire and a phosphorescent tube. Another shows the forced removal of a female detainee’s clothes to expose her breasts.
The images were ones that President Obama had tried to censor for fear that their coming to light would further spark anti-American sentiment and would put the troops at increased risk.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, retired Major General Antonio Taguba, the former officer who conducted the inquiry into the Abu Ghraib abuses in Iraq, confirmed the allegations of rape and abuse that were included in his 2004 report. At that time, photographs of those abuses were never revealed.
Taguba supported the President’s decision not to release the photos saying: “These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency.”
“I am not sure what purpose their release would serve other than a legal one and the consequence would be to imperil our troops, the only protectors of our foreign policy, when we most need them, and British troops who are trying to build security in Afghanistan,” said the retired general.
“The mere description of these pictures is horrendous enough, take my word for it.”
Earlier Obama had said that the photos would be released, but after senior military officials strongly objected, the President changed his position.
“The most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to inflame anti-American public opinion and to put our troops in greater danger.”
Five years ago similar images were leaked, sparking the Abu Ghraib scandal which showed naked and bloodied detainees dragged around on a leash, piled into a human pyramid and hooded and attached to electric wires in Abu Ghraib prison.
While the latest photos seem far worse, Obama attempted to reinforce his change of heart:
“I want to emphasize 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.”
The photographs pertain to the alleged abuse at the prison in Abu Ghraib from 2001 to 2005 as well as in other Iraqi prisons. President Obama has said that those involved in the abuses have been “identified and appropriate actions taken.”
Included in the Taguba inquiry were sworn statements by various detainees, some of which are confirmed by the latest photographs. Under the U.S. freedom of information laws, one particular statement stands out. In it detainee Kasim Mehaddi Hilas says:
“I saw [name of a translator] ******* a kid, his age would be about 15 to 18 years. The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the doors with sheets. Then when I heard screaming I climbed the door because on top it wasn’t covered and I saw [name] who was wearing the military uniform, putting his **** in the little kid’s ***…. and the female soldier was taking pictures.”
Following an explosive report that some of the torture photos President Obama is withholding depict graphic sexual abuse, the Department of Defense and White House came out to vigorously refute the claims.
In a surprisingly broad denial, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs cast doubt on the entire British media.
“I don’t want to speak generally about some reports I’ve seen over the past few years in the British media,” he said. “And, in some ways I’m surprised it filtered down. Let’s just say if I wanted to read — if I wanted to read a write-up of how Manchester United fared in the Champion’s League cup, I might open up a British newspaper.
“If I was looking for something that bordered on truthful news, I am not entirely sure [British papers] would be the first stack of clips I picked up,” deadpanned Gibbs. >>>