One Iraqi accomplishment we haven’t heard touted by Donald Rumsfeld (despite its legitimate significance) is the transfer of the Abu Ghraib prison. (In fact, it hasn’t been mentioned much by anybody.) The facility — which was emptied out two weeks ago by American forces — was handed over to the Iraqi government this weekend.
Of the newswire shots, I thought the image above was particularly ironic. It shows an American soldier documenting the withrawal with his personal camera. If not for the revolution in personal photography, who would have even heard of Abu Ghraib?
I also was interested in this pair of shots. The first shows Iraqi soldiers celebrating the take over. In the “companion,” newly released inmates show up at the central bus station in Baghdad.
Before reading too much into this, however, consider that the politics of detention haven’t changed very much. Although the Iraqi government ordered the release of almost 1,000 Iraqi prisoners from Abu Ghraib one year ago, an Amnesty International report issued this past March indicated that U.S. and Iraqi forces were still holding more than 14,000 civilians at the facility. In many cases, these men had been held for years without ever being charged or tried.
Most current news summaries indicate that the last 3,000 detainees at Abu Ghraib were transferred elsewhere. Looking at these photos, one might ask how much of the jubilation at the bus station resulted simply from freedom granted to the innocent.
(image 1 & 2: Khalid Mohammed/A.P. September 2, 2006. Baghdad, Iraq. Via YahooNews. image 3: Ali Jasim/Reuters. August 24, 2006. Baghdad, Iraq. Via YahooNews.)