The United States and its NATO allies have been fighting the so-called “War on Terror” for nearly two decades now, and over the years there have been countless accusations of war crimes against western military forces, including torture and other unspeakable brutalities.
One of the worst accusations of war crimes during the War on Terror came in its early years, when Seymour Hersh of the Washington Post reported that the US military was hiding evidence of US soldiers raping children in front of their mothers.
His claims were backed up by victim testimony and later by US military officials. The horrific crimes were reportedly filmed by the perpetrators, just like many of the other acts of torture that were carried out at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
This footage was reportedly held back from the public because of how damning it was, but other images and videos of various types of torture and sexual abuse that took place at the prison have reached the press, and they certainly point to a culture of rape and violence at the prison.
During a speech at the ACLU in 2004, just after the Senate Torture Report was initially released, Hersh described what was on the tapes that weren’t shown to the public.
His speech was transcribed by Salon:
“Some of the worst things that happened you don’t know about, okay? Videos, um, there are women there. Some of you may have read that they were passing letters out, communications out to their men. This is at Abu Ghraib … The women were passing messages out saying ‘Please come and kill me, because of what’s happened’ and basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys, children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. And the worst above all of that is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror. It’s going to come out.”
It’s impossible to say to yourself how did we get there? Who are we? Who are these people that sent us there? When I did My Lai I was very troubled like anybody in his right mind would be about what happened. I ended up in something I wrote saying in the end I said that the people who did the killing were as much victims as the people they killed because of the scars they had, I can tell you some of the personal stories by some of the people who were in these units witnessed this. I can also tell you written complaints were made to the highest officers and so we’re dealing with a enormous massive amount of criminal wrongdoing that was covered up at the highest command out there and higher, and we have to get to it and we will. We will. You know there’s enough out there, they can’t (Applause). …. So it’s going to be an interesting election year.”
Nearly twenty years ago when the initial Abu Ghraib scandal was in the news, the Guardian published the testimony of an Abu Ghraib detainee who allegedly witnessed one of these brutal attacks.
Former detainee Kasim Hilas said in their testimony that:
I saw [name blacked out] fucking a kid, his age would be about 15-18 years. The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the doors with sheets. Then when I heard the screaming I climbed the door because on top it wasn’t covered and I saw [blacked out], who was wearing the military uniform putting his dick in the little kid’s ass, I couldn’t see the face of the kid because his face wasn’t in front of the door. And the female soldier was taking pictures.”
Furthermore, an Abu Ghraib detainee told investigators that he heard an Iraqi teenage boy screaming, and saw an Army translator raping him, while a female soldier took pictures, according to the Washington Post.
Senior US military officials later admitted that rape had taken place at Abu Ghraib, according to the Guardian.
In 2004, Antonio Taguba, a major general in the U.S. Army, wrote in the Taguba Report that a detainee had been sodomized with “a chemical light and perhaps a broomstick.”
In 2009, Taguba stated that there was photographic evidence of rape having occurred at Abu Ghraib.
Taguba supported United States President Barack Obama’s decision not to release the photos, stating, “These pictures show torture, abuse, rape, and every indecency.”
Obama initially agreed to release the photographs but then changed his mind after lobbying from senior military figures, according to CNN.
Obama stated that their release could put troops in danger and “inflame anti-American public opinion.”