Sunday, April 16, 2017
Photo-Fakery and Abu Ghraib, Part 3
(I thought I'd best hurry up and publish this before the media comes up with more headlines about Trump.)
Moving on with the Abu Ghraib photos at www.antiwar.com/news/?articleid=8560 --
The third photo down shows an odd image: a naked man (we can assume from his muscular shoulders, despite his broad buttocks) with pale skin and dark hair, his back to the camera, standing with his arms outstretched and his legs crossed, in the middle of a bare corridor lined with barred doors. His legs are visible down to the ankles, which wear manacles, and we can see part of a chain between them. The man is splattered with brown stains, from the back of his head to his buttocks, with streaks on his legs down to his ankles and on his arms down to thick smears on his outspread hands. The smears are exactly where we would expect them to be if the man had fallen on his back, with his arms outstretched in front of him, into a large puddle of mud and then wiped off what he could reach with his hands before being stopped.
The corridor is clearly inside a prison unit; beyond the naked man we can see two men's hands and forearms, darkly tanned, wearing broad white wristbands, sticking out from between the bars. The arms are resting on the doors' crossbars, and the hands are relaxed. At roughly the same distance beyond the naked man stands another man, dressed in military boots, camo pants, medium-wide black belt, brown T-shirt, and apparently black gloves on what we can see of his partly-concealed hands. His skin is pale, but darker than that of the man in the foreground; his face and neck are slightly-sunburned pink, but his forearms are tanned -- though not so darkly tanned as the arms sticking out of the cells. He has dark hair and a mustache, and is holding an 18-inch long black tapering rod in his visible hand. There is no one else in the corridor, and he has no other visible weapons. The light is coming from apparently neon lamps above the doors, but primarily from somewhere near or behind the camera. The photo-resolution is crisp and clear, and the color is naturalistic.
This is what we see, and all that we see. Now, what does it mean?
The added caption (emphasis mine) claims, cautiously: "A baton-wielding US soldier, appears to be ordering a naked detainee covered in a 'brown substance' to walk a straight line with his ankles handcuffed."
But is it really? Note that lawsuit-evading "appears". Also note the coyly emphasized "brown substance", meant to imply manure rather than mud. In fact, the supposed detainee is not walking a straight line but crossing his left foot to the right of his right foot -- a dancing move -- and this may be a quibble, but his ankles are wearing manacles, not "handcuffs"; handcuffs will not fit around the average human ankle, and have little or no chain between them. The man further down the corridor may well be a US soldier, and the rod in his hand may well be a light expanding baton, but is the man in the foreground a "detainee"? Note the evidence of the suntanned forearms.
The soldier has a slightly-pink face and neck, showing that these usually avoid the hard sunlight of the region, but his forearms have clearly endured a lot of it. One gets this pattern by going out in the sun as little as possible, and then only to drive a vehicle; that's commonly known as a "truck-driver's tan". This could be expected of a prison guard. The forearms sticking out of those barred doors are much more darkly tanned, as if they belonged to people who had spent their whole lives -- and probably their ancestors for six generations had too -- living in that climate. Given what prisoners Abu Ghraib got, we can safely assume that these belong to real POWs -- and they're carefully watching what those two men in the corridor are doing. I think, given the fact that there's an unseen cameraman present, that this was planned. In other words, this is a show put on for the benefit -- and intimidation -- of the prisoners, whose culture has a fascinated horror of nudity.
Now let's look closer at that supposed "detainee" in the foreground. Note that despite the excellent musculature of his shoulders, arms, and legs, he still has that broad butt -- as if he'd been trained to very good physical condition, but then spent most of his working day sitting in an office chair. Also note that, out of everyone present, he's the only one with untanned forearms; they're as pale as the rest of him -- which is paler than anyone else. There's not even a trace of slight sunburn. What this spells is that he's not an Arab; he's part of the military, but an office-worker. We can't see the front of him, but I'd guess that it's likewise plastered with mud -- to disguise the fact that he's not really a "detainee". This scene was staged. Precisely because there was a cameraman present, I suspect that it was not planned only for the benefit of the prisoners.
So just why, and for whom, was this picture taken? For that matter, why were all the rest of them taken?
For that we'll have to reconsider the army's (and Red Cross') Abu Ghraib report -- and look at more of those photos, with an analytical eye. More to come. Patience!