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29 May, 2009 08:32

Pentagon attacks report of detainee rape photos

Pentagon attacks report of detainee rape photos

Barack Obama’s administration harshly denies a recent British media report on photos allegedly showing US soldiers raping Iraqi detainees, while the Pentagon went even further, attacking the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

The White House expressed its concerns over the liability of the UK press in general, but the Pentagon slammed the Daily Telegraph newspaper specifically, uncommon for the US Department of Defense, Reuters reports.

The sexual assaults were reportedly carried out in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman, quoted by Reuters, said the Telegraph had shown “an inability to get the facts right.”

“That news organization has completely mischaracterized the images,” he told reporters. “None of the photos in question depict the images that are described in that article.”

Harsh words also came from White House spokesman Robert Gibbs:

“I think if you do an even moderate Google search you’re not going to find many of these newspapers and truth within, say, 25 words of each other,” he said.

The images were ones gathered as part of US military investigations into detainee abuse in Abu Ghraib prison and that the White House had tried to censor.

First the White House agreed to release the pictures, but then changed their decision, saying that their coming to light would further spark anti-American sentiment and would put the troops at increased risk.

The Daily Telegraph wrote that 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 showed various types of sexual assault on detainees, including the use of objects like truncheons, wire and a phosphorescent tube, the papers claimed. Another showed the forced removal of a female detainee’s clothes to expose her breasts.

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.

RT's political analyst Robert Bridge comments:

Not so long ago, the US judiciary brought the American government to a complete standstill as it debated the extremely uncomfortable question as to whether or not fellatio could be legally defined as 'sex.' And I don't think they ever really settled the issue… so it seems equally likely they will not be able to make a decision concerning these photos anytime soon…

 However, as incredible as it may seem for the US Pentagon to lecture the media of a foreign nation (and more importantly, allied nation), it seems that the Daily Telegraph, in an effort to be the first ones to exploit this appalling story, were incorrect to conclude that the images contained actual scenes of rape. After all, the article contained no visual verification, only comments from a top-ranking US officer who was apparently privy to the photos. His views on what these photos actually show may be challenged in court.

Although it seems that US President Barack Obama had a very good reason to withhold the pictures from public consumption, it is too early to conclude, without seeing the photos first, exactly what they contain. The official reason for not making the photographs available is that they may place US trooops into even greater danger, which seems to make good sense.

The best place to view these photos would be in a court of law, where the individuals responsible for the alleged acts will be judged accordingly. Exposing any more "torture" photos from Iraq would be simply wallowing in perversity out of sheer curiosity, and it would not serve the interests of the Iraqi people, nor the US, of course.

We can only hope that America and the world will not be exposed to yet another sensational show trial so early into Barack Obama's promising presidency, especially when the US and the world has so many more immediate problems on its plate.