May 23, 2004

Solving the Iraq torture problem.

Make sure that nobody can take pictures of the torture.

The UK newspaper The Business reports that US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld is banning camera phones from US military installations in Iraq.

Quoting a Pentagon source, the paper said the US Defence Department believes that some of the damning photos of US soldiers abusing Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad were taken with camera phones.

"Digital cameras, camcorders and cellphones with cameras have been prohibited in military compounds in Iraq," it said, adding that a "total ban throughout the US military" is in the works.

Interestingly, the LA Times is running a story today about the extensive use of photography (including camera phones) by US troops in Iraq. This part of the story is especially interesting given the report of the new camera phone ban:

Most of the photos posted on Web sites maintained by individual soldiers, Marines and their units - including photos by California National Guard troops posted on the Los Angeles Times' Web site - depict the relatively mundane moments of military life. Smiling, uniformed men and women pose in the desert, their arms around one another's shoulders. Some brandish weapons in mock-heroic poses. Iraqi children stand by roadsides, waving. Soldiers gawk at ancient sites or clown around in Iraqi playgrounds. There are close-up photos of military meals and shots of soldiers manning barbecues.

There is, on the face of it, nothing that obviously challenges the rules, reflects badly on the troops or gives away military secrets. But the shocking photos from Abu Ghraib - which were not posted publicly but were leaked by one of the soldiers - hint at the larger consequences of having an army of shutterbugs.

Despite the embarrassing images, there are no plans to ban such cameras.

"You can't put the genie back in the bottle," said Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, spokesman for the U.S. military in Iraq. "Soldiers have cameras in the battlefield. They have telephones in the battlefield. They have access to Internet cafes on the base. At a certain point, you just have to trust them to do the right thing - and punish them if they don't."

Via AFP.

Posted by Magpie at May 23, 2004 08:17 PM | Iraq | Technorati links |