MoJo Video: Inside the Secret Cellblocks of Abu Ghraib

A soldier-narrated tour of the detainee camp during its final days.

Photo used under a Creative Commons license by flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/rayphua/">Ray (rayphua)</a>


With the recent release of new torture memos, and the news that Obama isn’t entirely ruling out prosecutions, it’s important to remember just how widespread America’s use of torture has been. This video footage was taken of Abu Ghraib during its final days in 2006, after the prisoners left but before it was torn down, and evidence of the camp was buried and burned. While not as dramatic as hundreds of rounds of waterboarding, the abuse outside interrogation rooms was another cog in the torture machine. The thousands of detainees living in the sprawling tents were kept in squalid conditions, exposed to the elements and mortar fire. The soldiers who filmed this tape point out the outdoor segregation cells where detainees were kept and deprived of sleep—even years after the Bush administration said the camp had been cleaned of any abusive practices. Abu Ghraib has closed, but these two matter-of-fact video tours remind us what it was like. That chapter in American history is not over.

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  • Justine Sharrock is a former Mother Jones staffer. Her most recent book is Tortured: How Our Cowardly Leaders Abused Prisoners, American Soldiers, and Everything We're Fighting For. For more of her stories, click here.