May 10, 2004

Where Did The Hoods Come From?

I was halfheartedly watching the late rebroadcast of Meet The Press, I'm theoretically writing a paper due tomorrow, and Tim Russert just asked what I think was a good question. I don't think he meant it the way I took it, but here goes:

MR. RUSSERT: But where did the dog leashes come from? Where did the hoods come from? Where did this notion that by talking about sexual behavior you could break down the Arab mind? From the minds of Army reservists?

And you can see what he meant. Who put those ideas in these guys' heads? But what I'm thinking is, where *did* the dog leashes and hoods come from? Are they part of some weird military equipment pack? Were they leftovers from the prison's previous management? Maybe they were just jury-rigged.

But a hood, particularly the ones in some of the pictures, is a sewn garment. I use the word garment loosely, but someone had to sit down and make several of the things. Granted, some of them look plasticky, like bags, but others seem to be conical fabric hoods. And what kind of plastic bags do you put over someone's head and not worry about suffocation? Where do you find one that's stiff enough to stay away from the face, and the right size to fit over a head and stay without being tied at the bottom?

Probably, they borrowed dog gear for the collar and leash setup, but that means someone had to go get them from where the dogs are kept, and it seems the dogs' supplies would be kept near where the soldiers stay rather than with the prisoners. You can't borrow it from a roaming canine unit, because it seems unlikely that a handler would remove their animal's restraints on patrol. A collar that won't choke has to be fitted to the wearer individually, or have some kind of adjustable fitting mechanism, and standard prisoner restraints don't include items suitable to putting around the neck. That leash setup was not likely rigged up on the spur of the moment. What's the explanation for a soldier who isn't in a canine unit walking around with a collar and leash? What's the explanation for requisitioning it?

I don't know a lot about military gear, so if someone knows better, please say so. It just seems to me that some advance planning had to go into acquiring the gear. Even if it was jury-rigged, someone had to think ahead of time about where to get a reasonable facsimile of what they had in mind, or how to make it. It's possible that the guards in the photos did all this of their own volition, but to me, it blows a hole in the 'one-off silly prank' theory.

And in conclusion, it shouldn't escape notice that the first soldier to be put up for court martial is the one who was holding the camera.

Posted by natasha at May 10, 2004 07:16 AM | Iraq | Technorati links |

A recent Guardian piece, UK forces taught torture methods, could lead one to suspect that both the preparations & gathering of the supplies 'necessary' for such torture had been done in advance for Abu Ghraib, though it still doesn't suggest from whence such things might be obtained.


The techniques devised in the system, called R2I - resistance to interrogation - match the crude exploitation and abuse of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib jail in Baghdad.


One former British special forces officer who returned last week from Iraq, said: "It was clear from discussions with US private contractors in Iraq that the prison guards were using R2I techniques, but they didn't know what they were doing."

He said British and US military intelligence soldiers were trained in these techniques, which were taught at the joint services interrogation centre in Ashford, Kent, now transferred to the former US base at Chicksands.


The full battery of methods includes hooding, sleep deprivation, time disorientation and depriving prisoners not only of dignity, but of fundamental human needs, such as warmth, water and food.


Posted by: Carolyn at May 10, 2004 08:24 PM

You have hit on the real question here, or Russert did by accident on his part I'm sure; where did these kids from middle America learn this stuff???? My guess it wasn't even from the real MI people. My guess it was from the lose cannons hired by the private contracters.

Posted by: Ron In Portland at May 11, 2004 04:32 AM

The hoods are probably sand bags. of which i am sure there are plenty. The leash, well, I am sure the M.P.s have dogs... so...

Posted by: Hubris Sonic at May 11, 2004 09:32 AM

The right wing has really been trying to push the idea that these kids *must* have gotten these ideas from watching too much porn. It's a distraction--don't buy it. Sexualized tortures have been part of war from day one. The men who stuck guns inside women's vaginas and fired them at My Lai didn't get the idea from porn.
However, the equipment is a good question. Except that wasn't the prison one that was used for torture under Saddam Hussein? Odds are that torture devices were just laying around. In fact, the devices might have inspired some of the tortures.

Posted by: Amanda at May 12, 2004 03:14 AM

They look like hoods from probably a care package from that great American, Strom Thurmond.

Posted by: Kevin Hayden at May 12, 2004 05:57 AM

If our troops are using the torture devices left over from the Hussein regime, that's somehow even worse than bringing our own.

This whole thing just makes me sick to my stomach. I barely even want to look at the news these days, much less talk about it.

Posted by: natasha at May 12, 2004 08:13 AM

Early in the year at one of the Dean meetups there was a preview of an independent film in the editing process. The venue was large and I could barely hear, but what I saw of it was where the filmmaker accompanied a group of soldiers to arrest ... someone. I can't recall specifically what the charges were supposed to be.

Gosh I wish I could remember details but I can only recall impressions. And I don't think my memory is playing tricks on me. Here's what I "remember":

1. The intended arrestee was an old man. Old, sick and rather drunk. He didn't appear to have the physical wherewithal to be a dangerous criminal.

2. No one had the linguistic ability to explain to the family why they were there.

3. No one had the linguistic ability to question the "suspect". All they had was a name.

4. The guy they arrested was blindfolded with a hood.

5. This was an early morning sweep and a number of men were gathered up and made to stand for several hours in the cold morning without coats or other protection. But they were wearing hoods.

How odd that I hadn't made the connection myself. Those hoods came from somewhere. It looks as though they were standard issue.

I've got a call in to a friend who was also there and saw as much of the movie as I did. I want very much to know what she remembers...

Posted by: sj at May 12, 2004 10:45 PM