The Missing Abu Ghraib Photos

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Back in 2006, Salon published 279 photos and 19 videos depicting detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. But the website was quick to warn readers of the images’ “limitations”—the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command [CID] had produced two reports, one in Tikrit, Iraq on June 6, 2004, and one a month later in Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

The Tikrit CID report analyzed some 1,300 images and over 90 videos of possible detainee abuse. But only around 280 videos and 19 videos were analyzed in the second report—numbers that correspond to the images Salon published. “It remains unclear,” Salon warned in 2006, “why and how the CID narrowed its set of forensic evidence to the 279 images and 19 videos that we reproduce here.” But if the Pentagon ever had more images of Abu Ghraib abuse, it doesn’t have them now. “The Department of Defense is unaware of any images or video of potential abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib that have not already been made public,” a Pentagon spokesman tells Mother Jones, echoing earlier statements.

I speculated yesterday that the discrepancy might stem from the Pentagon’s claim that many (separate) images that the ACLU is seeking in a lawsuit depict what at first glance appears to be abuse but was determined not to be—pre-existing bruises or injuries to detainees, for example. That could still be the case. I’ve asked Salon‘s Mark Benjamin, who first asked the Pentagon about whether there were more Abu Ghraib photos and got a similar response, if he can help me figure out what happened to the images from the first CID report. I haven’t heard back yet, but I’ll post his response if and when I get one. I’m also following up with the Pentagon.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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