Abu Ghraib

by Weam Namou


From early in the day, my son cried for ice cream. I think he saw it in one of the children’s programs. He went on and on about it until we finally left the house, picked up my daughter from school and drove to the video store to pick out documentaries that sort of resemble the one I’m currently working on. There, he picked an ice cream sandwich. I asked my daughter if she wanted to share it with him and she said no. Once we were out, she cried that she had wanted a Push-Up and I said, “Why didn’t you say so?”

“You know I don’t like chocolate,” she said, adding, “You don’t know me, mom. If you did, you’d know what flavors I like and what are my favorite colors.”

Back at home, right after dinner, I watched “The Invisible War”. According to this documentary, a female soldier in combat zones is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire. The Department of Defense estimates there were a staggering 19,000 violent sex crimes in the military in 2010.

Yesterday I watched the “Ghosts of Abu Ghraib” where the soldiers involved in the torture and picture-taking told their sides of the story. What was disturbing was that the women involved in the scandal were less remorseful than the men. One said she’d taken the pictures with that big fat smile on her face and a thumbs up, next to a tortured corpse, because, ‘you know, that’s what people do in front of cameras – smile.’ The other said it was uncomfortable doing what she did, but she did it anyway – you know, like going to the dentist but you’re uncomfortable to go.

The moral of this story? Just because one works in the government does not automatically equate to him or her being a hero. Sometimes it just means one is a sheep. There is a good thing to being sheep, however, which is that no matter what crimes you commit, you will not get punished. Actually, you may even be promoted, as was the case with the General Miller, who was sent to Iraq by the Department of Defense to help get more information out of Iraqi prisoners. In 2006, he received the Distinguished Service Medal at the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes.