When the infamous photographs from Abu Ghraib prison were first made public four years ago, they seemed to constitute an awesome expose of the profound corruption of America’s response to September 11th.
The sanction of torture, and the decriminalization of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners in wartime, have become defining legacies of the current Administration—and have given us the defining images of America’s changing standing in the eyes of the world.
But it didn’t take long for the soldiers who took and appeared in the Abu Ghraib photographs to be singled out as depraved rogues, when in fact they were implementing America’s de facto policy in Iraq. Just as criminality had become the norm, the expose now became the cover-up.
Now, two of our keenest moral and political observers, author Philip Gourevitch and filmmaker Errol Morris, have taken on the story of the soldiers who took and appeared in the photographs—and they have produced a war story that explores the horror at the core of the ongoing campaign to fight terror with terror.
In their new book, Standard Operating Procedure, Gourevitch and Morris expand on the investigation Morris conducted for his just-released film of the same title, to tell the story of Abu Ghraib from the inside out and the bottom up- Live from NYPL
Philip Gourevitch is a staff writer at The New Yorker. His books include "We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families: Stories from Rwanda" and, with Errol Morris, "The Ballad of Abu Ghraib."
Paul Holdengräber is the Director of LIVE from the NYPL.
Errol Morris is a filmmaker, the Academy Award-winning director of The Fog of War, and the recipient of a MacArthur genius award.
His other films include Mr. Death, Fast Cheap & Out of Control, A Brief History of Time, and The Thin Blue Line.
Carne Ross was the UK's Iraq specialist at the United Nations Security Council from 1997-2002, where he worked on weapons of mass destruction and sanctions.
After giving secret evidence to an official inquiry into the Iraq war, he resigned from the British diplomatic service and founded Independent Diplomat, the world's first non-profit diplomatic advisory group.
He is author of Independent Diplomat: Dispatches from an Unaccountable Elite.
Errol Morris, Philip Gourevitch, and Carne Ross debate the true significance of the Abu Ghraib photos.
Gourevitch argues that the media confuses the taking of the photographs as a bigger crime than the abuses being portrayed in them; he says "the taking of the pictures is in no way the source of depravity."