Sunday, September 25, 2005

Soft underbelly -- updated again

The story took off faster than I expected. This post from August 23 is finally becoming relevant a month later.

These comments by Billmon are too long to summarize but too well-done to leave out. What a writer!
Go read. (Haven't seen his take yet on the most recent prisoner abuse reports. That should be a magnum opus.)


The beast that is devouring Iraq has a soft and dirty underbelly that polite people don't want to mention. When young people are taken from a protective social environment and resocialized to become warriors, the results are not always pretty. Many, if not most, bring with them enough character, discipline and base-line ethical values to protect them from being transformed into savages. Others, sadly, do not. Aqoul points to a post at Nur al-Cubicle (A blog on the current crises in the Middle East and news accounts unpublished by the US press.) which takes a look at a website dedicated to some of the most degenerate interests of the world wide web.

The site, primarily pornographic, is structured like a forum where users exchange pornographic material, not covered by copyright, which runs from voyeur photos to hardcore shots of lovemaking with girlfriends and wives. In two special sections, soldiers can receive free access by publishing the most audacious photos taken during their deployment. One is a general section displaying photos of soldiers, including war humor. The other section is a veritable chamber of horrors with photos of dead Iraqis and dismembered bodies. Once you enter this section you are immediately advised that you will be seeing cruel images and that persons not wishing to view this type of material should not enter.

Browsing through the
posts is like a descent into hell. Each post contains the most graphic of images, escalating in barbarity and viciousness and accentuated by the comments left by posters. The posts exalt the violence of the images, shot in a theatre of war. You see headless, armless burnt bodies, a face in a bowl, the remains of suicide bombers, an arm or a leg accompanied by inhuman comments, extolling the horrors..."the only good Iraqi is a dead Iraqi." The comments are stupefying in their cynicism...there is even a barbaric quiz, asking the question, "what body part is this"...?

I didn't bother to look past the main page which reports "Our users have posted a total of 541888 articles. We have 143718 registered users."
Scanning the topic lists is education enough. This is not, incidentally, some obscure, low-traffic corner of cyberspace. The numbers of items runs to the tens of thousands, in a couple of instances, hundreds of thousands.

That a lot of traffic by any standard. This is a very tragic consequence of an equally tragic adventure.

August 24 addendum...
The post is only a day old and the story is being picked up several places.

Helena Cobban's Just World News blog...
Body part porn and war

This morning, I asked if it was true that US service membersare now trading grotesque pictures of Iraqis and Afghans who have been or are being terribly abused onto a porn site in Netherlands. I'd read about it (in my lousy Italian) on the Italian News Agency ANSA website, here. But I can't really read Italian so I invited JWN commenters to help out.

As always when I ask for help here, I got it. Thanks to those who commented and to the creators and maintainers of this great information-leveraging system, the internet... Here's what commenters said. (And a belated hat-tip to the Belgian onfirmant from whom I gained the original tip.
Various confirmations follow with descriptions and comments.
This comment is worth quoting:
The images are of the dead. The voices - the comments [on the porn site]- are of the living dead. Everybody caught in that web - dead or alive - has "passed over". They're both "in a different place", a terrible place. Shakespeare's got a line, "my mind is full of scorpions". It's Macbeth's response to his dawning realisation of what he's done...and what he's become...and what he's set in train. Which is by way of saying, this war isn't just going to come home in body bags. It's also going to come home in the minds of the living. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of them are going to be walking IEDs. Some of them will "go postal". Some of them will commit suicide. Most won't "go off", but that's cold comfort. Because the fuse will burn and burn...with predictable consequences. Domestic abuse. Broken homes. Nests fouled. Wives, children, girlfriends, parents, siblings friends coming in for bad times, harrowing times. Bottom line: the terrible things that are happening in Iraq are on their way round.

Sabbah's Blog picked it up two days ago. The post has a photo of a group of laughing GI's posing and pointing at a charred corpse. Picture is captioned "Cooked Iraqi."
Also links and tags.

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