Abu Ghraib’s Fog Machine

Philip Gourevitch and Errol Morris have an in-depth article in the March 24, 2008 issue of the New Yorker, “Exposure,” exploring the circumstances behind the Abu Ghraib photos. It features extensive interviews with Sabrina Harman and Javal Davis, two of the soldiers who took the fall for following the protocol handed down to them. Among the revelations: the man in the infamous hooded photo was later found to be innocent, and the corpse photographed with the shocking”thumbs-up” poses didn’t die of a heart attack, as alleged. Instead, he was beaten to death by a CIA interrogator.

As Harman says of the latter:

“I just started taking photos of everything I saw that was wrong, every little bruise and cut,” Harman said. “His knees were bruised, his thighs were bruised by his genitals. He had restraint marks on his wrists. You had to look close. I mean, they did a really good job cleaning him up.” She said, “The gauze on his eye was put there after he died to make it look like he had medical treatment, because he didn’t when he came into the prison.” She said, “There were so many things around the bandage, like the blood coming out of his nose and his ears. And his tooth was chipped—I didn’t know if that happened there or before—his lip was split open, and it looked like somebody had either butt-stocked him or really got him good or hit him against the wall. It was a pretty good-sized gash. I took a photo of that as well.” She said, “I just wanted to document everything I saw. That was the reason I took photos.” She said, “It was to prove to pretty much anybody who looked at this guy, Hey, I was just lied to. This guy did not die of a heart attack. Look at all these other existing injuries that they tried to cover up.”