Abu Ghraib

Image via RNS/Screenshot from CNN

With his anti-Muslim rhetoric and planned travel bans, you’d think President Trump would be a favorite target for Islamic State’s propaganda. The jihadist caliphate in Syria and Iraq must be pulling out all the stops to slam him as the epitome of Islamophobia.

Well, think again. The extremist group that Trump vows to “totally obliterate” has hardly printed or broadcast a word about him since before the November election. The caliphate’s Ministry of Media acts almost as if he didn’t exist.

Jenna Barnett 3-09-2015

Tomorrow Is My Turn by Rhiannon Gidden / Sand Opera by Philip Metres / Tricked by Jane Wells and John-Keith Wasson / Tailings: A Memoir by Kaethe Scwehn 

The Editors 12-17-2013

Joshua Casteel served as an interrogator in Iraq. Then an encounter with a Jihadist challenged him to truly live out his faith.

Joshua Casteel was an interrogator at Abu Ghraib prison and later staffed open-air burn pits in Iraq. The experience changed his life—even as it cut it short.

Christian Piatt 7-25-2013
WILL OLIVER/AFP/Getty Images

A selection of British newspapers in London showing the new royal baby. WILL OLIVER/AFP/Getty Images

By now most of the world knows the royal family in England is celebrating the birth of little baby George Alexander Louis. The commentators panted as they caught the first glimpses of the magic baby, about everything from the infant's apparent ability to withstand a media onslaught to the ever-so-newsworthy fact that his father drove the family home with his own two hands.

Meanwhile in Iraq, several hundred prisoners of the infamous Abu Ghraib facility escaped, many of whom were known or suspected members of Al Qaeda. Considering the attention given to the few dozen detainees still held in Guantánamo Bay, it seems reasonable to think that such a breakout would arrest the headlines around the globe.

But instead, we stayed focused for the most part on baby George. I remarked about this to my friend, sharing my concern about the apparent distortion of priorities. He suggested that it simply is a sign of cultural fatigue, or even resignation. Sometimes, after all, these stories that have international importance seem so big, so abstract, and so far away that it is hard to wrap our minds around them. It’s easier instead to set our attention on something more hopeful — albeit remarkably more superficial — that won’t keep us awake at night.

Debra Dean Murphy 3-21-2012
Photo by Jana Birchum/Getty Images

Lynndie England in 2005 during her courts-martial. Photo by Jana Birchum/Getty Images

You remember Abu Ghraib: the correctional facility in Baghdad where such atrocities took place that the prison’s very name is now synonymous with and shorthand for torture, degradation, military scandal, and unchecked American hubris.

A young army reservist named Lynndie England came to represent the horror of that dark chapter (one of several, as it turned out) of the war in Iraq. Photographs of England posing with abused Iraqi detainees led to a dishonorable discharge, a felony conviction, and a two-year prison sentence. Also revealed during and after the shame of Abu Ghraib was England’s own status as both a co-conspirator and an unwitting casualty. She was not a victim in the same way that the Iraqi prisoners were but, given her rank, gender, background, and the weird sexual dynamics she shared with the scandal’s ringleader (and father of the baby she would give birth to a few months later), England’s culpability, like that of many who commit heinous acts, was not separable from her own troubled life.

In the tidy way we like these narratives to play out, England was supposed to pay her dues for the evil she had done and, with time for reflection and introspection, own her guilt and express her sorrow. Or at least, for public consumption, she was supposed to voice regret for the tragic choices she made back in 2003 and offer an apology to those whom she had wronged. But in a recent interview, England was unrepentant. Her only regret, it turns out, is that her actions at Abu Ghraib may have directly caused American casualties.

Shane Claiborne 3-23-2010
I can't imagine a better way to lament the 7th anniversary of the war in Iraq than by spending it with Iraq veterans who are horrified by the war and courageously speaking out against it
Brian McLaren 2-08-2010
It's one thing to go to the "Holy Land" and see where Jesus worked and walked in the past.
Jimmy McCarty 11-17-2009
The release of photos of Americans supposedly treating imprisoned suspected terrorists badly has been blocked by the Pen
Rose Marie Berger 6-03-2009
Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba wrote the U.S. Army's report on the Abu Ghraib torture scandal. He was then forced into retirement.

Aaron Taylor 3-06-2009

On the first day of the Obama administration, our newly elected president signed the order to close down Guatanamo. Scores of human rights advocates were in ecstasy. For those of us committed to peace and social justice, the words Guatanamo and Abu Ghraib invoke images of shock and horror. How could we as a nation have stooped so low? Where was the outcry from the Body of Christ?

11-12-2008
A curious thing has happened as Americans were choosing their first black president. Democracy suddenly ceased to be a bad word for many genuine democrats in the Middle East.

Rose Marie Berger 2-01-2008

Fernando Botero on Abu Ghraib

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