The photo at the left is one of the most famous that came out of the Abu Ghraib scandal: A smiling Sabrina Harman next to the corpse of Manadel al-Jamadi, who died after being hung by the arms in a shower by interrogators after he was arrested for allegedly providing explosives to insurgents. The New York Times Web site has a long investigative essay by filmmaker Errol Morris, whose new documentary about Abu Ghraib, "Standard Operating Procedure," opened recently. Morris' essay is essential, riveting reading for its deconstruction of the photograph, the smile, and the coverup of al-Jamadi's death that this and other photographs ultimately exposed. Most fascinating is Morris' quasi-defense of Harman, his reinterpretation of what the smile means, and the way that its constant publication and republication has helped to deflect attention from those really responsible for the crimes at Abu Ghraib.
Update I: While we are on the subject of coverups in Iraq: Truthdig's "Truthdigger of the Week" is former Army sergeant Adrienne Kinne, who helped reveal that the military knew that Baghdad's Palestine Hotel had been targetted for strikes even though reporters were staying there. Two journalists were killed when the hotel was attacked, including one who filmed his own death.
Update II: In an opinion piece in today's International Herald Tribune, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders writes about the staggering cost of war and military spending, much of which is dissipated in corruption and waste. I was particularly struck by a quote from President Dwight Eisenhower with which Sanders begins his piece, thoughts that no Republican today would dare to utter:
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
News update: What's this? Can it be?? According to a story just in, Israel has been holding peace talks with Syria in Turkey. Can you believe this policy of appeasement? Don't the Israelis know that Syria is a state sponsor of terrorism and that one should never talk to such folks? Don't the Israelis know about Hitler and Munich and Chamberlain and all that? Haven't they read their history books? Um, what's that you say? Oh. Right. Never mind!
News update II: The New York Times today delves into this doublespeak by the Bush administration in an article entitled "Advice Given, but Not Always Followed, by White House."