Saturday, February 16, 2008

Last post on the Lindh Files

I’m interested in photographs because – surprise, surprise – of a Seymour Hersh claim that the humiliating photos taken in Abu Ghraib were part of a deliberate effort to blackmail the torture victims; who, as Arab men, were allegedly vulnerable to sexual humiliation. In “The Gray Zone,” Hersh wrote that a “government consultant” told him

… that there may have been a serious goal, in the beginning, behind the sexual humiliation and the posed photographs. It was thought that some prisoners would do anything—including spying on their associates—to avoid dissemination of the shameful photos to family and friends. The government consultant said, “I was told that the purpose of the photographs was to create an army of informants, people you could insert back in the population.” The idea was that they would be motivated by fear of exposure, and gather information about pending insurgency action, the consultant said. If so, it wasn’t effective; the insurgency continued to grow.
As part of my research, I’ve been digging through the ACLU documents to see if I can find anything to substantiate this particular theory about deliberate photographic humiliation (I haven’t, yet). Along the way, what’s emerged instead is that the Army seems to have a difficult time controlling the use of cameras, and that photo taking, collection, and exchange are hardly isolated to Abu Ghraib. There’s something else going on here, something worth digging into – and in doing so, that’s how I came across the Lindh documents, which I’ve kind of detoured into.

Last week I blogged briefly about the Army’s investigation into potential charges of cruelty and mistreatment in the John Walker Lindh arrest. The investigation was spurred in part by discovery of an “inappropriate or unauthorized pictures of Johnny Walker Lindh taken by members of [Redacted; FOIA exemption b2-2] at Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan, on or about 7 December 2001” (DOD015553). The photo – which isn’t available online, at least that I can find – depicted Lindh wearing a bandana with the word “shithead” scrawled upon it. I’m not sure if there were other photos, but this one seems to have been sufficient to get an investigation into prisoner mistreatment started.

DOD015552-DOD105647 in the ACLU FOIA collection is a 96-page compilation of the findings of the AR 15-6 investigation carried out by a Major General in the 2nd Battalion of the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. It’s worth skimming for two items: the log describing Lindh’s detention and the sworn statements in which soldiers explain why the photo was taken.

Here’s a brief inventory of the set:
  • The memo that appoints this individual as the investigating officer
  • A chronology of investigation events, 10 April 2002-18 April 2002, which looks to be mostly a list of interviews (there’s a second and longer chronology later in the collection);
  • A form for reporting the proceedings of the investigation – mostly blank, as the attached documents carry most of the information
  • A memorandum summarizing the findings of the investigation
  • A page noting that photographs were withheld under FOIA Exemptions 6 and 7, because they depict Americans;
  • A photocopy of the log that Lindh’s guards kept while he was in captivity
  • Multiple sworn statements taken from soldiers during the investigation. Some are typed and some are handwritten.
  • A “Report of Medical Examination and Treatment of American Citizen.”
  • A longer chronology of the investigation, covering the major investigation submissions and reviews between 22 April 2002 to 3 February 2003
  • Another list of sworn statements
  • And several pages indicating that some documents were withheld because they were apparently being used in a DOJ investigation.
One thing that caught my eye is the detainee log, DOD015566-015575. It’s ten pages of handwritten notes taken by Lindh’s guards, who seem to have conducted regular checks on Lindh every half-hour or so. The entries are pithy: date, time; “Conducted check of guest. All secure”, then initials. This log is punctuated occasionally by “inventory lists” of what Lindh is fed and, occasionally, his behaviors. On December 2002, at 0955Z, Lindh is provided a fudge brownie, a half bottle of water, bread, peanut butter, chili and macaroni, cocoa beverage product, and bubble gum. He then prays and lies down. Why did I find this interesting? For one thing, it tells us something about the records that military guards keep concerning detainees. Secondly, it made me think of Moazzam Begg’s bemusement and frustration with the guards at Guantánamo who write down observations of his behavior, as though he is a caged animal.

But that’s something of an aside to my main interest, which is the problem of soldier photography. The sworn statements indicate that digital photographs present a challenge to the military because they are so easily disseminated – these are slippery forms of ephemera, unwieldy and hydra-like. Here are some quotes from the sworn statements – again, you can see these yourself if you go to the ACLU's FOIA site and enter DOD015552, the scroll for the page numbers I’ve provided you.

DOD015589-92
INT. Why did you take the photograph?
RESPONSE. The photograph was taken as a final team picture with an American member of the Al Qaeda Terrorist Organization (sic)…
INT: What was written on the blindfold and why?
RESPONSE: SHITHEAD, because we though it was humorous and we thought he was…. the detainee was not aware of any pictures after he was blindfolded.
DOD015594
INT. How is it possible for the photo to be rediscovered if you deleted it on 9 December 2002 and did not disseminate it?
RESPONSE. The camera had two flashcards. We attempted to open the photo on a borrowed laptop from the FOB (Forward Operating Base). The electronic copy was inadvertantly (sic) left on the laptop and possibly on one of the flashcards. The laptop was then connected to a LAN system at the FOB.
DOD015598
INT: What was written on the blindfold, why.
RESPONSE: “Shithead,” Barracksroom (sic) humor.
DOD 015602.
(implied) INT: Why did you take the photograph?
RESPONSE. The photo was taken simply because of who he is.
DOD015605
INT: Why did you take the photograph?
RESPONSE: For historical value because of who he was; an American fighting for the Taliban, and for humor.
It strikes me that we have here is something more akin to tourist photograph – the visual consumption of the exotic (an American Taliban); the exercise of power in the form of a Foucauldian gaze; the creation and dissemination of a souvenir that the individual being photographed is never allowed to see. The question is whether or not the Abu Ghraib photos really represent a botched blackmail attempt, or if they’re evidence of a much larger phenomenon – that is, soldiers capturing, collecting, and sharing forbidden digital photographs of their war experiences.

41 comments:

保險 said...

培養健全孩子最好的方法是父母先成為健全的人。.........................

黑色星期五 said...

希望能有更多心得與我們分享~ ..................................................

時尚 said...

期待你每一篇文章........................................

佩怡 said...

看到你的好文章真是開心 加油囉.......................................

柏辰 said...

此處是值得一探究竟的好部落格!! .........................................

禎雨 said...

Hello~Nice to meet you~..................................................

鈺禎 said...

我新來的~大家可交個朋友嗎(・ˍ・)........................................

Phuong said...

thanks................................................

逸凡逸凡 said...

It's great!!.............................................

EmogeneJ said...

謝謝您的分享~感恩唷!!..................................................

真坤 said...

很用心的blog,推推哦 ........................................

韋于倫成 said...

果然是好文章 受益良多 感謝分享 ̄ 3 ̄........................................

偉誠 said...

go2av免費影片sex 0401 影音 live 秀視訊聊天交友 色美眉台中援交aa 片試看 a免費視訊聊天網 情人34C波霸美女 香蕉鮑魚俱樂部,免費av 免費線上 aa 片試看 g點無碼a片 性愛姿勢 辣妹sex story 視訊聊天室 sex888免費看影片波霸美女寫真 視訊美女pixnet 成人交友hibb 4u成人視訊 情人080視訊網 私密論壇sex888免費看影片論壇 Show-live視訊聊天室 辣妹貼圖a片天堂 a片免費看 情色視訊禁地論壇 日本 a 片,無碼影片,美女,sexy,a片天堂 小魔女免費影城 視訊美女sogo 色論壇 s38live秀 卡通aa片免費看自拍天堂 洪爺免費線上歐美A片段觀看 亞洲東洋影片 0941 影音視訊聊天室 18成人85cc影城0204movie 成人漫畫區月光論壇 a片-情色成人影片 免費視訊toolbox 707網愛聊天室 1111辣妹貼圖,寫真集辣妹 av無碼月光論壇辣妹視訊 視訊辣妹主播脫衣秀 aio性愛dvd辣妹影片直播 黑澀會美眉 mv 高雄視訊,qq 美女貼圖片區 5i176 免費視訊秀 168論壇視訊辣妹 a片天堂s383視訊 bt電影下載,aa 片 sexy girl video movie 080cc成人色網 後官0951主入口 視訊聊天評比 視訊交友聊天室 no8 sogo論壇視訊辣妹

韋于倫成 said...

好的部落格就要和好朋友分享--感謝分享.........................

Julian said...

buy viagra

viagra online

generic viagra

BryannaR22369 said...

A stitch in time saves nine...................................................

家信 said...

Where did you purchase this product?..................................................

宛君宛君 said...

生存乃是不斷地在內心與靈魂交戰;寫作是坐著審判自己。.................................................................                           

韻玉 said...

知識可以傳授,智慧卻不行。每個人必須成為他自己。......................................................................

明霖明霖 said...

人有兩眼一舌,是為了觀察倍於說話的緣故。............................................................

王雅筑 said...

人有兩眼一舌,是為了觀察倍於說話的緣故。............................................................

ju吳phe宇te佳ns said...

It takes all kinds to make a world.............................................................

婉婷 said...

支持你就對了!..................................................................

許紀廷 said...

加油-不論如何都支持你............................................................

陳美苓 said...

花花公子的責任就是要很平均的愛他認識的每一個女孩子~~我們的責任則在於公平的回應每一篇blog............................................................

承蘋承蘋 said...

出遊不拘名勝,有景就是好的............................................................

廖珮秋廖珮秋 said...

臨淵羨魚,不如退而結網。......................................................

家榮家榮 said...

晚上好,很喜歡你的blog哦.....................................................................

劉士賢劉士賢 said...

一個人的價值,應該看他貢獻了什麼,而不是他取得了什麼....................................................

淑吳玲 said...

Make hay while the sun shines...................................................

家唐銘 said...

A friend to everybody is a friend to nobody.............................................................

建邱勳 said...

不論做什麼事,相信自己,別讓別人的一句話,把你擊倒。..................................................

雅王任 said...

從人生中拿走友誼,猶如從生活中移走陽光......................................................................

偉曹琬 said...

喜歡自己的另一層意義是「接納自己」。..................................................

孫邦柔 said...

感謝分享 功德無量............................................................

佳張張張張燕張張張張張 said...

唯有穿鞋的人,才知道鞋的哪一處擠腳......................................................................

翊翊翊翊張瑜翊翊翊 said...

多謝美味的心靈雞湯......................................................

幸平平平平杰 said...

人不能像動物一樣活著,而應該追求知識和美德................. ................................................

彬彬哲宇 said...

上來打聲招呼,祝你一切平安!............................................................

王辛江淑萍康 said...

喜歡看大家的文章,祝你順心~^^

Patricia Leupp said...

Admin, if not okay please remove!

Our facebook group “selfless” is spending this month spreading awareness on prostate cancer & research with a custom t-shirt design. Purchase proceeds will go to cancer.org, as listed on the shirt and shirt design.

www.teespring.com/prostate-cancer-research

Thanks