April 29, 2005

The man under the hood.

Tonight in the US, public television viewers have the chance to see an interview with Haj Ali, the man under the hood in the infamous photo from Abu Ghraib.

Before the US-led invasion, he was mayor of a district near Baghdad and a member of the Ba'ath Party (a requirement for holding office). He was removed from office after the fall of the Saddam Hussein government, as part of the ill-conceived 'de-Baathification' program of the Coalition Provisional Administration of Iraq. Haj Ali was arrested in October 2003 and sent to Abu Ghraib, where Iraqi prisoners were tortured and abused by their US jailers. Since his release, he has worked for the Victims of the American Occupation Prisoners Association, which helps former prisoners held in Abu Ghraib and other places.

Man in the hood

Q: How confident are you that you are the man in that photo?

HAJ ALI: Actually the hood covered my head, and they took almost a hundred photos. Because all those who were present-as those who speak English were telling me- that whenever a soldier is visited by a friend of his, they would pull a prisoner and take a photograph with him. They would put the prisoners in some abnormal positions and take photos with them. I experienced this situation. I am 100% sure of that.

I remember the American bean box, even the pipes behind me which were used to conduct electricity, they used two wires. I'm telling you what I remember from when they took the hood off my head, I saw the electric wires, one of them was black and the other was red. The end of the electric wires were hook shaped....

HAJ ALI: We were surprised that that an American [television] station broadcasted these photos. But we have two reasons to explain why the photos were released; the first is not that they admired the human rights, but because of the polarity of the American elections. And the second explanation for doing that is to instill fear in the Iraqi resistance, but it backfired on them to the nth degree.

Before that, a person was able to negotiate with them, but then these photos were published and the facts became clear about what the American Army is doing in Iraq and what the real occupation is.

What is more, is that the people who appeared in the photo and the process of their punishment occurred in such a jeering way. This meant the method insulted all of humanity. These have to be punished according to the Geneva [Conventions] or according to the American law....

Q: When you were released, did anyone ever apologize to you? To this day, has anyone from the US military ever apologized?

HAJ ALI: No, never, they just said you were arrested by mistake and they put a hood over my head. Then they put us in a truck with about 30- 40 other people. And they just pushed me off the truck.

The interview with Haj Ali runs on the PBS program NOW tonight. You can find out the exact time by checking here.

Via TalkLeft.

Posted by Magpie at April 29, 2005 01:29 PM | Iraq | Technorati links |

Wow! Thanks for posting this. I hadn't heard about this.

Posted by: Tim at April 30, 2005 12:41 AM

I'd much rather have a hood on my head than have my head chopped off.

Posted by: Copper at April 30, 2005 09:05 AM

Gee, Copper, I'm sure you'd rather see your children sodomized and hear their screams while it's happening too. Or having your genitilia electrified. Or being severely bitten by a dog. I guess we should all be thankful that we don't have terrorists chopping off our heads - afterall, everything else is just a nit.

Posted by: Mary at April 30, 2005 11:33 AM

Gee Mary, wonder what Sadam was doing during all those years. Might want to read the papers and see how many people he killed, chopped their heads, arms, legs, etc. off. How many rape rooms were there? How many masss graves? We had a few military members who went over the top, but at least they are being prosecuted. If you believe that we are the enemy then pack your bags and off to Iraq you go.

Posted by: Copper at May 1, 2005 06:16 AM

no, copper. the evidence is that the stuff that went on at abu ghraib was suggested and condoned by those at the highest levels. but, of course, dubya's administration and the pentagon brass responsible are covering it up.

let me tell you about a conversation i had with a woman still on active service with the army about a week after the news about abu ghraib broke. (i should add the she comes from a military family, and that her brother was serving in iraq when we spoke.) what she said was that the people who were being charged with the abuse would never have thought it was okay to do what they did unless they had orders from above to do it. or unless it had been made abundantly clear to them -- without formal orders -- what kind of behavior was expected of them.

what worried her most at the time -- and what was worrying other people she was serving with -- was the possibility that the revelations of torture and abuse would result in show prosecutions of the low-rank people who did the dirty work. And that the officers, contractors, and defense department civilians who were responsible for given the orders and/or creating the climate in which abuse would be condoned would get off scot-free.

well, all her fears have been realized. and i don't think that reflects very well on the current administration or on the US.

for me, your argument that because saddam was bad, torture and abuse is okay is reprehensible. i'd like to think that the US is a country that stands for certain principles and standards of international behavior -- and that torturing prisoners goes against those standards. i can recall the outrage among people in the US in the 1970s when the POWs returned from north vietnam, and the country found out that they had been tortured. it's a very sad commentary on how the country has changed that the abuses at the hands of US jailers in iraq, afghanistan, and guantanamo not only raise little concern, but are actively defended by idiots like you. even if only the guilty were in those prisons -- which was definitely not the case, given the 'arrest the usual suspects' nature of the roundups -- torturing prisoners only takes the US down to the level of the terrorists.

Posted by: Magpie at May 1, 2005 10:49 AM

Copper - get your head out of your ass. The US has killed, maimed, raped and tortured an order of magnitude more people than Saddam has. Let's get our affairs in order before we start telling other people how to run their countries.

Posted by: Ben Schiendelman at May 2, 2005 09:57 AM