Abu Ghraib

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Pronounced [ahBOO greb]. In Arabic, أبو غريب. Alternate spellings include Abu Gharib and Abu Ghurayb. Also referred to as "Baghdad Central Detention Center" and "Baghdad Central Correctional Facility."

Contents

History and General Information

The largest prison in Iraq, where countless numbers of people were tortured and killed under Saddam Hussein. It is located about 20km west of Baghdad, and covers 280 acres. The prison grounds contain five different compounds, each of which is secured by high walls and guard towers. Abu Gharib was built in the 1960s by British contractors.

Each cell is about 4 meters x 4 meters, and can hold about 40 people.


American Torture Scandal

On January 26, 2004 CNN reported accusations of abuse and torture by American soldiers at Abu Gharib. The article also noted that pictures might have been taken.

In February, Antonio M. Taguba submitted his findings from an investigation into alleged torture. Known as the Taguba report.

On March 15, Reliefnet.int reported on the conditions at Abu Gharib.

On March 20, Mark Kimmett reported that 6 people were charged with various abuses at the prison.

On April 28, 60 Minutes II (CBS) aired photos of the torture. The photos depicted naked prisoners, heads bagged, forced into a human pyramid and other humiliating positions. One photo showed a man, whose head is covered in a black hood, standing on a box with wires attached to his fingers. The man was told he would be electrocuted if he fell.

On April 30, Seymour Hersh breaks many of the details that we have become familiar with in the article "TORTURE AT ABU GHRAIB" in The New Yorker. This article contained the details of torture going beyond the horrific photos, how military intelligence officers fostered the abuse by the military police, involvement of private contractors, and the coverup of the death of an Iraqi detainee by CIA and MI agents. These revelations were leaked to Hersh in a summary of the investigative report by Major General Antonio M. Taguba.

The photos sparked worldwide outrage and condemnation. The White House tried to do as much damage control as possible. Donald Rumsfeld testified before the Senate on May 7, 2004, as many Democrats and even some Republicans were calling for his resignation. In the weeks following the initial broadcast of the pictures, President Bush's approval ratings plummeted to their lowest levels since he took office. A May 20 CBS News poll showed that only 41% of Americans approved of the way Bush was handling his job. And an ABC News poll showed that 58% of Americans disapproved of the way Bush was handling Iraq.

Several weeks after the first pictures were released, select Senators and Representatives viewed hundreds of unreleased photos. Coming out of the session, almost all said that the pictures they had seen were worse than those that had been released. A few days later, more than two hundred pictures and videos were leaked to the Washington Post.

Many believe that the prison abuse scandal is the turning point for public opinion regarding Iraq. They also believe that if Bush is not elected to a second term in November, this scandal will have been a major factor in the public's decision.

Closing

In late August or early September 2006, the U.S. military closed Abu Ghraib, and transfered its 4500 prisoners to other sites in Iraq, mostly to Camp Cropper. The buildings at Abu Ghraib were handed over to the Iraqi government.

Punishing Whistleblowers

The identity of the soldier who blew the whistle on abuse in the prison, Joseph Darby, was revealed by none other than Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, in televised testimony before Congress. Since then, he and his family have gone into protective custody and received death threats. (Source: Abu Ghraib Whistleblower Outed by Rumsfeld)

Key Figures

See Also

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