Philosophy Hurts Your Head

The blog of a cranky Philosophy PhD Student from Newcastle, Australia.

Gore for Porn Update.

Posted by Sam D on September 29, 2005

The New York Times has finally reported on this.

Army Investigates Photos of Iraqi War Dead on Web

By THOM SHANKER
Published: September 28, 2005

“WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 – The Army has opened an investigation into whether American troops have sent gruesome photographs of Iraqi war dead to an Internet site where the soldiers were given free access to online pornography, Army officials said Tuesday.”

Read the full article here.

So the army has launched an investigation eh? They took their time. If I’d been a day or two quicker I’d have beaten them to it. That’s not right. At least they admit that this could constitute a breach of the Geneva Convention.
The article states that the authenticity of the photos has not been confirmed. Authenticity of what!? If nothing else I think we can depend on the authenticity of the bodies in the pictures. I appreciate that people in the US don’t want to jump to conclusions, but I would find it very, very hard to believe that any of this material was fake. On the other hand, because of the way that the pictures are being supplied and published, the only person who knows if a given picture is of what, where and when they say it is, is the person who originally sent it.

That is if they can find who sent it. The article indicates that the Army has been having trouble tracking down service personnel in some of the photos as their unit and name markings are unclear. I hope that is not the only option that they have at their disposal in this investigation.

There is no good way that this can be taken. If the Army was aware of this, but did nothing till it became public then it is complicit in this grossly unethical and possibly illegal affair.

If the Army was really un-aware of this, then the implications are disturbing. If soldiers could get away with sending these pictures unnoticed, what other information and material has been passing through these channels unnoticed? Incompetence in monitoring this web traffic to could constitute a major security weakness and a ridiculous naivete of what is actually happening with personnel on their bases.

The third possibility, implied by the Times’ assertion that the authenticity of the photos was unconfirmed, is that it isn’t US personnel who are sending the pictures. I would find this hard to believe, but have to admit that it is a possibility for at least some of the material in question. If the pictures are at all what they appear to be, then someone in Iraq and Afghanistan is sending them. For all the conservatives who are thinking of crying ‘conspiracy’, take note: People are going to find it hard to believe that this whole thing has been orchestrated by Islamic extremists or peace activists. While the ‘proof’ may mysteriously elude army investigators, people will still know which group is responsible for this, the marks of military culture are all over it, and not amount of handwaving and misdirection will change that.

I’m glad that the NY time ran the story. But I was disappointed at how cautious in their language they were. While I have no proof, it seems that they are treading very carefully. There’s your conspiracy.

As far as I can tell, despite the growing momentum in the blogsphere and finally now in print media, CNN has not touched this.

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