Ghraib diggers.

What the foreign papers are saying.
May 6 2004 4:37 PM

Ghraib Diggers

International media condemn U.S. torturers.

Last week CBS broadcast hair-raising images of troops humiliating and abusing Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib. The photographs and corroborating reports fueled a vehement run of international op-eds against the U.S. occupation, as the the Bush administration scrambles to defuse the damage.

The Guardian carried three op-eds on the subject Thursday. In one, Vikram Dodd noted that while in the UK "the debate about photographs depicting abuse of Iraqi prisoners has centred on their authenticity ... [i]n the US there are no doubts" about them. The piece goes on to argue that the abuse is not surprising precisely because it is "torture by the book," according to tactics employed by the CIA dating back to Honduras in 1983. A second op-ed by Sidney Blumenthal expanded on this theme, arguing that "Bush has created what is in effect a gulag" that stretches "from prisons in Afghanistan to Iraq, from Guantánamo to secret CIA prisons around the world." The third piece, a Guardian leader, suggested that the incidents at Abu Ghraib were not isolated but rather part of "a much wider system of degradation and torture which has been deliberately exported to Iraq with an imperial contempt for the coalition's own proclaimed values."

Advertisement

The Mirror ran a long news story about the British government's promises to unearth the UK soldiers who appeared to have engaged in similar acts of prisoner abuse in Basra. The allegations were based on images the paper published last Saturday, which the Mirror reran Thursday with captions such as "Terrifying: Soldier Puts Gun to Prisoner's Head." The paper pledged to keep secret the identities of the sources who provided these images.

The Globe & Mailran a stern op-ed by a retired Canadian colonel, who argued that the breakdown in discipline was "lost ... moral ground" for U.S. military leaders. "It is typical in such situations for the military to close ranks, jump-start an internal military justice system, swiftly punish a few guilty soldiers—and move the issue to the back burner." The Malaysian Straits-Times called the acts "war crimes" and noted that "[t]he real war criminals are in the White House, but like the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, it will be the small fry who will become the fall guys for Abu Ghraib."

The harshest critics pinned what happened in Abu Ghraib squarely on Bush. An op-ed in the Parisian Le Monde attacked his initial failure to apologize. Pakistan's Dawn echoed those sentiments: "[T]he buck for what has happened in Abu Ghraib stops with George W. Bush."

Ed Finn is the director of the Center for Science and the Imagination and an assistant professor in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering and the Department of English at Arizona State University.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Right to Run

If you can vote, you should be able to run for public office—any office.

I Went Hunting for Ebola in 2004. (What I Found Was Bats.)

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Ben Bradlee’s Fascinating Relationship With JFK

Culturebox

The Simpsons World App Is Finally Here

I feel like a kid in some kind of store.

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

Move Aside, Oxford Comma, the New Battle Is Over Single or Double Quotes

On the Internet, Men Are Called Names. Women Are Stalked and Harassed.

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 22 2014 11:57 AM Why Wasn't the WHO Ready for Ebola?
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
Atlas Obscura
Oct. 22 2014 12:03 PM Colonia Fara: An Italian Summer Camp for Happy Little Fascists
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 10:00 AM On the Internet, Men Are Called Names. Women Are Stalked and Sexually Harassed.
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 22 2014 6:00 AM Why It’s OK to Ask People What They Do David Plotz talks to two junior staffers about the lessons of Working.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 22 2014 12:35 PM IKEA’s Shining Spoof Admits Its Stores Can Feel Like the Overlook Hotel
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 22 2014 10:29 AM Apple TV Could Still Work Here’s how Apple can fix its living-room product.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 22 2014 12:30 PM Update: Sunspot 2192's X-Class Flare
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.