The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Sunday, May 09, 2004

Abu Ghraib: minor ironies

Trite though they be, I can't let the occasion pass without pointing out one or two piquant coincidences.

First, that the genuinely sordid photos - and video to come, apparently - from Abu Ghraib should appear in the same year in which large swathes of America were gripped in a Salem mania over the momentary appearance of Janet Jackson's right tit.

Second, that worldwide conniptions should result from the abuse by US personnel of prisoners in an Iraqi jail, whilst - as we've seen here in umpteen pieces on California's hell-holes [1] - the miseries of the two million locked up Stateside - including uncounted rapes - are not on the electoral radar.

Third, that some of the loudest bleating over Abu Ghraib should come from Middle East countries where genuine, old-line torture is sanctioned by the government - and no tell-tale photos are allowed to emerge.

None of this in any way constitutes an upside for the goings-on in Abu Ghraib.

But, whilst the average reader can do nothing about Iraq - nothing until November, at least, and then, by casting his vote, only something very remote from the action - he is certainly responsible for what he believes, and the interpretation of events that he chooses to endorse.

And, as much as with overtly partisan matters like John Kerry's infamous 350 votes for higher taxes and Al Gore's inventing the Internet, all sorts of angles are shamelessly being worked over Abu Ghraib.

I said trite...

  1. Last visited here on April 28 with a piece on Bill Lockyer's stymieing a prosecution against violent warders.

    A list of the dozen or so pieces here on California prisons.

MORE (May 10)

A WaPo piece from Yale Law School prof James Q Whitman also takes the point on US jails, and compares conditions with those in European prisons.

And a New York Times piece (May 8) looks at abuses in US jails, and the connection with Lane McCotter, the Utah prison company executive who was flown to Iraq after the invasion, inter alia, to reopen Abu Ghraib prison.

(That a prison in Santa Fe run by McCotter's company, Management & Training Corporation, was criticised by the US Justice Department
for unsafe conditions and lack of medical care for inmates
does not have got in the way of his getting the gig, evidently.)

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