Skip to main content

Most remember the indelible trophy photo of the "American Taliban," John Walker Lindh--one of the most prominent prisoners of the Afghanistan war--naked, blindfolded and trussed, with "shithead" scrawled across the blindfold, and bound to a board with duct tape.  That was our first glimpse of American-sponsored torture and we didn't even flinch.  

The latest trophy photos to emerge, obtained by the L.A. Times, show smiling soldiers posing with Afghan corpses, including two soldiers holding up a corpse's hand and extending his middle finger, and the mangled body of a suicide bomber hoisted by his ankles.

These are not on-off incidents, but point to a larger problem of the utter dehumanization of the "other"--desecration of the dead, killing innocent Afghan civilians for sport, burning the Koran, and gunning down children and journalists as if playing the video game "Call of Duty". This is not just a "P.R. setback for the U.S. military." It's a setback for evolving standards of modern morality.

This results from the normalization of torture, the legitimization of non-combat killing, the metastatic dehumanization of the "other" (whether the government calls them "radicals," "collateral damage," etc.), and the industrialization of death (we do drone assassinations remotely)--things absolutely forbidden by the law of civilized nations.

Here are some recent highlights:

2001: Trophy photo of "Detainee 001," John Walker Lindh (the "American Taliban"), circulates worldwide.

2002: CIA operatives subject Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Sashiri to severe interrogation and videotape the acts.

2004:"60 Minutes II" aired photos of naked prisoners stacked in a pyramid, a female soldier leading around a nude captive by a dog leash, inmates with women's underwear over their heads, a hooded prisoner with electrodes attached to his fingers and a staged photo of a dead corpse hooked to an iv.

2007: Video made of U.S. Army Apache helicopter in Baghdad repeatedly opening fire on a group of men that included a Reuters photographer and his driver -- and then on a van that stopped to rescue one of the wounded men (released in 2010 by WikiLeaks.)

2010: Members of an Army combat brigade photographed themselves with corpses of Afghan civilians who were gunned down.  Published by Rolling Stone magazine and Der Spiegel.

2012: A video posted on the Internet depicts 4 Marines laughing as they urinated on corpses.

And now, the L.A. Times publishes 18 photos from 2010 that show troops posing with Afghan corpses.

These are not the acts of rogue soldiers. They are not in, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the acts of

a few bad apples.
And they are not, in Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's words,
immature reactions to battlefield stress . . . "I know younge people somethimes caught up in the moment make some very foolish decisions."
Enough of the rationalizations.  I do not think our honorable military is filled with sadists.  But I do believe that these acts reflect the normalization of torture and reflect an institutional culture right up the chain of command.

A soldier--and, yes, I'm calling him a whistleblower--released the recent batch of photos to draw attention to the safety risk of a breakdown in leadership and discipline. It's not a stretch to say that he will be retaliated against and punished for doing so.  

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Lupin, Angie in WA State, northsylvania, filkertom, BOHICA, melo, native, mimi, Shockwave, just another vet, Pescadero Bill, hyperstation, eeff, RFK Lives, hubcap, zeitshabba, Babsnc, rabel, roses, splashy, Cedwyn, RLF, Eric Blair, minorityusa, Dr Colossus, CitizenOfEarth, roseeriter, On The Bus, vacantlook, eve, Gowrie Gal, sb, davidincleveland, joanneleon, humphrey, historys mysteries, marina, 3goldens, chimene, Militarytracy, Alice Venturi, frandor55, eightlivesleft, Brooke In Seattle, Laurence Lewis, reflectionsv37, ratzo, Michael Alton Gottlieb, lotlizard, WisePiper, Ginny in CO, dazed in pa, Pluto, peacestpete, Indiana Bob, mightymouse, martini, Knucklehead, poco, esquimaux, detroitmechworks, Kingsmeg, cybersaur, BlueInARedState, Yellow Canary, Lefty Coaster, blueoasis, gooderservice, gatorcog, joe shikspack, NearlyNormal, democracy is coming, CA Nana, shaharazade, markthshark, cpresley, ammasdarling, One Pissed Off Liberal, old wobbly, pgm 01, SpecialKinFlag, devis1, david mizner, aliasalias, artisan, HCKAD, martyinsfo, bobswern, CT Hank, uciguy30, madgranny, bewild, Don midwest, rogerdaddy, spacejam, Alexandre, bill warnick, Involuntary Exile, elwior, Akonitum, jamess, petulans, Clay Claiborne, LaEscapee, Uncle Bob, Robobagpiper, David Futurama, prettygirlxoxoxo, Florene, divineorder, Carol in San Antonio, CanyonWren, shopkeeper, mkor7, rb137, pyegar, FogCityJohn, Crabby Abbey, Anak, sunny skies, Simple, Johnny Q, 4kedtongue, DrTerwilliker, elengul, Floande, Nada Lemming, Shelleyw, allenjo, sostos, peregrine kate, PhilJD, happenstance, zenox, Kathleen McClellan, quill, jacey, Left In The Cold, WhistleblowerAdvocate, mwcjim, Williston Barrett, Joieau, Deep Texan, 420 forever, 2thanks, Horace Boothroyd III, Mike RinRI, chipmo, NanaoKnows, notdarkyet, splintersawry, Diane Gee, BradyB, Kurt Sperry, BeeDeeS, quince, Sean X, dear occupant, parsonsbeach, Thomas Drake

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site