I missed it, though NYT readers probably caught it. Apparently the families of some of the Abu Ghraib torturers are suing the publishers of the photos. Publication of the photos of them torturing has done them emotional harm, and probably harm to their careers too.
I’ll just dump all the documentation below. It’s difficult to editorialize something like this. Maybe all I can add is, since Iraqis aren’t human beings and don’t count at all, this being just a debate about the torturers and their quality of life since the torturing was done, perhaps the torturers should consider suing their superiors also, for giving them the torture orders, since it could probably be argued that the torturing itself (as opposed to just the reporting of it) did them emotional harm (again we’ll leave Iraqis out) and damaged their careers, and if they weren’t following orders, they can’t plausibly claim that their activities should have been kept secret.
NY Times December 29, 2004
6 Members of Elite Navy Force Sue News Agency Over Photos
By TRACIE ROZHON
Six members of the Navy Seals and two of their wives sued The Associated Press and one of its reporters yesterday for distributing photos of the Seals that apparently show them treating Iraqi prisoners harshly.
One wife had put the photos on what she believed was a password- protected Web site, a lawyer for the group said. The suit, filed in Superior Court in San Diego, charges The A.P. with invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. It does not name the plaintiffs. An Associated Press article on Dec. 3 about the photos said they had date stamps suggesting they were taken in May 2003 – months before the photographs taken at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq that led to investigations of abuse of detainees.
In one photo published by The A.P., a gun is pointed at the head of a man who appears to be a prisoner; another shows a man in white boxer shorts, with what looks like blood dripping down his chest, his head in a black hood. In another, a grinning man in uniform is apparently sitting on a prisoner. The faces of most of the prisoners are obscured, but those of their captors are not.
James W. Huston, the lead lawyer for the plaintiffs, said yesterday that since the photographs were published, the men’s lives had been put in danger and their wives had received threatening calls. Mr. Huston said the photos had appeared in Arab news media and on anti-American billboards in Cuba.
The lawsuit demands that The A.P. obscure the faces of the Seals members if the photos are published again. Even if The A.P. agreed to shield the faces, Mr. Huston said, he would still pursue damages.
Mr. Huston said he did not know how The A.P.’s reporter got the photographs. “Obviously they were not as safe as she believed them to be,” he said of the Navy wife, adding that she was not available for comment. The wife had put the photographs on Web the site as a kind of backup storage, her lawyer said, “and planned to go back and organize them or delete them later.”
The A.P. reporter, Seth Hettena, discovered the photos on a Web site called Smugmug.com while researching another news story on alleged brutality by members of the Seals, according to an A.P. article on the suit. The site lets members display photos in password- protected or public galleries.
Reached at The A.P.’s San Diego bureau, Mr. Hettena said he could not comment on the suit or the photos. Dave Tomlin, a lawyer representing The A.P. and Mr. Hettena, said, “We believe that the use of the photographs and the manner they were obtained were entirely lawful and proper.”
When Mr. Hettena first showed the photos to the Navy, it began its own investigation. The Navy found that some of the photographs were not exactly what they seemed. For example, the gun pointing at a prisoner had a light on the end of it and was apparently being used to illuminate a prisoner’s face, said Cmdr. Jeff Bender, a spokesman for the Naval Special Warfare Command in Coronado, Calif.
Other photographs were not as easily explained, Commander Bender said.
“The picture with the guy grinning ear to ear,” he said, referring to a shot of a Seals member posing between two hooded prisoners. “These kind of pictures are supposed to be taken strictly for administration and intelligence purposes.”
A follow-up investigation is about halfway done, Commander Bender said. Jeffrey D. Neuburger, a lawyer specializing in technology and communications issues, said that “the photos are clearly newsworthy, and as a result, the First Amendment would protect their use” by The A.P.
AP: Navy Probes New Iraq Prisoner Photos
Dec 3, 5:32 PM (ET)
By SETH HETTENA
CORONADO, Calif. (AP) – The U.S. military has launched a criminal investigation into photographs that appear to show Navy SEALs in Iraq sitting on hooded and handcuffed detainees, and photos of what appear to be bloodied prisoners, one with a gun to his head.
Some of the photos have date stamps suggesting they were taken in May 2003, which could make them the earliest evidence of possible abuse of prisoners in Iraq. The far more brutal practices photographed in Abu Ghraib prison occurred months later.
An Associated Press reporter found more than 40 of the pictures among hundreds in an album posted on a commercial photo-sharing Web site by a woman who said her husband brought them from Iraq after his tour of duty. It is unclear who took the pictures, which the Navy said it was investigating after the AP furnished copies to get comment for this story.
These and other photos found by the AP appear to show the immediate aftermath of raids on civilian homes. One man is lying on his back with a boot on his chest. A mug shot shows a man with an automatic weapon pointed at his head and a gloved thumb jabbed into his throat. In many photos, faces have been blacked out. What appears to be blood drips from the heads of some. A family huddles in a room in one photo and others show debris and upturned furniture.
“These photographs raise a number of important questions regarding the treatment of prisoners of war (POWs) and detainees,” Navy Cmdr. Jeff Bender, a spokesman for the Naval Special Warfare Command in Coronado, said in a written response to questions. “I can assure you that the matter will be thoroughly investigated.”
The photos were turned over to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which instructed the SEAL command to determine whether they show any serious crimes, Bender said Friday. That investigation will determine the identities of the troops and what they were doing in the photos.
Some of the photos recall aspects of the images from Abu Ghraib, which led to charges against seven soldiers accused of humiliating and assaulting prisoners. In several of the photos obtained by the AP, grinning men wearing U.S. flags on their uniforms, and one with a tattoo of a SEAL trident, take turns sitting or lying atop what appear to be three hooded and handcuffed men in the bed of a pickup truck.
A reporter found the photos, which since have since been removed from public view, while researching the prosecution of a group of SEALs who allegedly beat prisoners and photographed one of them in degrading positions. Those photos, taken with a SEAL’s personal camera, haven’t been publicly released.
Though they have alarmed SEAL commanders, the photographs found by the AP do not necessarily show anything illegal, according to experts in the laws of war who reviewed photos at AP’s request.
Gary Solis, a former Marine Corps prosecutor and judge who teaches at the United States Military Academy, said the images showed “stupid” and “juvenile” behavior – but not necessarily a crime.
John Hutson, a retired rear admiral who served as the Navy’s Judge Advocate General from 1997 to 2000, said they suggested possible Geneva Convention violations. Those international laws prohibit souvenir photos of prisoners of war.
“It’s pretty obvious that these pictures were taken largely as war trophies,” Hutson said. “Once you start allowing that kind of behavior, the next step is to start posing the POWs in order to get even better pictures.”
At a minimum, the pictures violate Navy regulations that prohibit photographing prisoners other than for intelligence or administrative purposes, according to Bender, the SEALs spokesman.
All Naval Special Warfare personnel were told that prior to deployment, he said, but “it is obvious from some of the photographs that this policy was not adhered to.”
The images were posted to the Internet site Smugmug.com. The woman who posted them told the AP they were on the camera her husband brought back from Iraq. She said her husband has returned to Iraq. He does not appear in photos with prisoners.
The Navy goes to great lengths to protect the identities and whereabouts of its 2,400 SEALs – which stands for Navy Sea, Air, Land – many of whom have classified counterterrorist missions around the globe.
“Some of these photos clearly depict faces and names of Naval Special Warfare personnel, which could put them or their families at risk,” Bender said.
Out of safety concerns, the AP is not identifying the woman who posted the photos.
The wife said she was upset that a reporter was able to view the album, which includes family snapshots. Hundreds of other photos depict everyday military life in Iraq, some showing commandos standing around piles of weapons and waving wads of cash.
The images were found through the online search engine Google. The same search today leads to the Smugmug.com Web page, which now prompts the user for a password. Nine scenes from the SEAL camp remain in Google’s archived version of the page.
“I think it’s fair to assume that it would be very hard for most consumers to know all the ways the search engines can discover Web pages,” said Smugmug spokesman Chris MacAskill.
Before the site was password protected, the AP purchased reprints for 29 cents each.
Some men in the photos wear patches that identify them as members of Seal Team Five, based in Coronado, and the unit’s V-shaped insignia decorates a July Fourth celebration cake.
The photos surfaced amid a case of prisoner abuse involving members of another SEAL team also stationed at Coronado, a city near San Diego.
Navy prosecutors have charged several members of SEAL Team Seven with abusing a suspect in the bombing a Red Cross facility. According to charge sheets and testimony during a military hearing last month, SEALs posed in the back of a Humvee for photos that allegedly humiliated Manadel al-Jamadi, who died hours later at Abu Ghraib.
Testimony from that case suggest personal cameras became increasingly common on some SEAL missions last year.
Guardian Wednesday December 29, 2004 11 AM
Attacks target Iraqi police
Staff and agencies
Police car buried under bomb rubble in west Baghdad People look at a police car buried by rubble from houses destroyed in a blast in west Baghdad. Photograph: Khalid Mohammed/AP
At least 28 people died in Baghdad last night after insurgents lured police to a house where they believed a militant was hiding and blew it up.
Police visited the house in the city’s Ghazaliya district after a tip-off. Insurgents reportedly used a remote control to blow up the building when they arrived. The explosion destroyed six neighbouring houses. At least six Iraqi policemen were among the dead and about 20 people were wounded.
The explosion is the latest in a wave of attacks intended to disrupt preparations for Iraqi elections next month. It brought the total number of Iraqis killed yesterday to 54, more than half of whom were policemen.
The US military said in a statement that between 770kg and 820kg of explosives were used in the ambush. Soldiers and policemen “worked throughout the night” pulling the dead and injured from the rubble.
The police had responded to a call from a neighbour who said there was shooting coming from a house, said a spokesman for Iraq’s interior ministry. “When the police arrived and went in, the house blew up. It seems to have been a trap.”
In another incident yesterday, insurgents slit the throats of 12 officers in a police station in Tikrit before blowing up the building.
The deputy governor of the Anbar province, Moayyad Hardan al- Issawi, was assassinated near Ramadi, east of Baghdad. Gunmen who shot him left a statement next to his body: “This is the fate of everyone who deals with the American troops”. The statement was signed by the group Mujahedeen al-Anbar, or “holy warriors of Anbar”.
Other deaths occurred in suicide bombings, shootings and car bombings throughout Iraq.
Brigadier General Jeffery Hammond, the assistant commander of the 1st Cavalry Division that controls Baghdad, predicted that attacks by insurgents would escalate further as the January 30 election date approached.
“We anticipate that the enemy will (continue with) attacks, intimidation, assassinations and other messages designed to destroy life in Baghdad.” He said Iraqi security forces would bear the brunt of providing security for the elections, with US troops backing them up only if needed.
In another development, Ukraine announced today that it would pull all of its 1,650 troops out of Iraq by the end of 2005. Most will leave by the end of April. Ukraine is the fourth largest contributor of troops to the US-led war effort.
The country’s defence minister, Oleksandr Kuzmuk, had already announced that Ukraine would gradually pull its troops out of Iraq, but not without coordinating the move with other coalition members and not before Iraq’s January elections.
NY Times December 29, 2004
Rebels Inflict Heavy Losses on the Iraqis
By ERIK ECKHOLM
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Dec. 28 – Insurgents continued their relentless assault on Iraq’s fledgling security forces on Tuesday, killing at least 23 police and national guard officers in multiple attacks mainly across the Sunni-dominated zone north of Baghdad.
The authorities in central Iraq provided no totals for the day’s losses, and they have declined to say how many security officers have been killed this year. But based on deaths reported so far, the number is clearly in the hundreds, as insurgents work to destroy the effectiveness of the American-sponsored government.
Civilian officials have also been the targets of murder and intimidation, and on Tuesday the deputy governor of Anbar Province, the Sunni region to the west of Baghdad, was killed, The Associated Press reported.
A statement left with the body of the official, Moayyad Hardan al- Issawi, said, “This is the fate of everyone who deals with the American troops,” and was signed by a group calling itself Holy Warriors of Anbar, The A.P. reported, citing an interview with a provincial police official. In a town near Tikrit, north of Baghdad, the onetime home of Saddam Hussein, gunmen swarmed a police station on Tuesday, killed 12 policemen and then dynamited the building, an American Army spokesman said.
At a checkpoint near the city of Balad, also in north-central Iraq, five police officers were killed and three wounded, according to the spokesman, First Lt. Wayne Adkins of the First Infantry Division. Another policeman was killed in a separate attack near Tikrit.
In Baquba, in the same uneasy region, five Iraqi national guardsmen and one civilian were killed by a car bomb, with 22 soldiers and one civilian wounded. Another roadside bomb in the same city wounded four guardsmen.
Near Samarra, five Ministry of Interior commandos and one American soldier were wounded by an explosive device.
“Today was an extraordinary day,” said Lieutenant Adkins in a telephone interview from his base in Tikrit. The First Infantry Division operates throughout the mainly Sunni region of north-central Iraq.
In addition to the major incidents recorded by the American Army, several other attacks, some of them fatal, were reported by hospitals, police units and news agencies, although they were not officially confirmed. They included attacks on police officers around Tikrit and the gunning down of a police commander in Baquba.
In Baghdad on Tuesday, a senior commander of the national guard was the target of a car bomb as he left for work. The commander, Maj. Gen. Mudher al-Mula, was unhurt, apparently protected by his armored car, but six people were wounded, the Defense Ministry said.
Also on Tuesday, a group led by the Jordanian militant Abu Musab al- Zarqawi took responsibility for the car bombing on Monday outside the Baghdad headquarters of Iraq’s largest Shiite party, Reuters reported. The group said the attack had been aimed at killing the party’s leader, Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, a Shiite, and that more attempts on his life would be made. While Mr. Hakim escaped unhurt, at least nine people were killed in the attack.
American officials describe the mustering of effective Iraqi security forces as the linchpin of their strategy for the country, but the campaign of killings has left many officers so frightened that they wear face masks while working.
Iraqi officers are supposed to provide the main security for national elections on Jan. 30.
The continued violence in Sunni regions will make it difficult to hold elections in those regions in any case, many Iraqis believe. On Monday, the leading Sunni party said it was withdrawing from the elections and called for a six-month delay.
In a news conference on Tuesday in Baghdad, Brig. Gen. Jeffery Hammond, of the First Cavalry Division, predicted increasing violence across Iraq as the elections approached.
He emphasized that when the voting takes place, the American forces would not directly guard polling stations, but rather would be on call for emergencies.
“I know we must continue to work to improve the I.N.G.,” he said, referring to the Iraqi National Guard. But he said he believed that the 7,600 guardsmen in Baghdad, at least, were now “prepared to undertake independent operations,” in part because they were working with 540 “embedded trainers” from the Army.