POSTED AT 1:00 PM ON MARCH 21, 2011 BY HOWARD PORTNOY
When the Abu Ghraib scandal broke in 2003, the mainstream media and liberal blogosphere couldn’t find enough column inches to express adequately their shock and revulsion. The New York Times alone published 56 stories on the hideous revelation that members of the U.S. Army Reserve had tortured prisoners of war and posed for “trophy pictures”—inexcusable acts that the Times placed squarely at the feet of then-president George W. Bush.
Nor could left-leaning sources conceal their delight when President-elect Barack Obama boldly proclaimed:
[U]nder my administration the United States does not torture. We will abide by the Geneva Conventions. We will uphold our highest ideals.
What a difference a president makes. Until you flash forward to today’s bombshell, dropped by the British newspaper The Guardian, noting that members of a self-styled U.S. Army “kill team” posed for photos not with tortured prisoners but with corpses. Of civilians. Whom they had killed.
The photos, Guardian reporter Jon Boone writes, were published in German news weekly Der Spiegel, noting that:
[s]enior officials at NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Kabul have compared the pictures … to the images of U.S. soldiers abusing prisoners in Abu Ghraib in Iraq which sparked waves of anti-U.S. protests around the world.
Investigators at Der Spiegel unearthed approximately 4,000 photos and videos taken by the soldiers. The accompanying article in the magazine provides shocking details about the depraved, sadistic behavior of the men. In one alleged incident from last May, a mullah captured by the team is forced to kneel down in a ditch, where he is summarily executed. According to the article, the team later claimed to their superiors that the mullah had threatened them with a grenade and that they were acting in self-defense. This account still fails to explain why Gibbs reportedly severed one of the dead man’s fingers and removed one of his teeth, presumably as gruesome “souvenirs.”
The U.S. military has endeavored to keep the images out of the public eye, fearing it could touch off a new round of anti-American, anti-military sentiment in Afghanistan at a time when antipathy toward the U.S. is already running high. A spokesman for the military is quoted as having apologized for the images, which in his words depict “actions repugnant to the U.S. as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States.”
So far, the White House has released no statement regarding the images or accounts. Neither, surprisingly, has the New York Times.
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