Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
April 23, 2009

The Stretcher

Sladky Gitmo 02 gurney.jpg

The question I’m interested in is whether this image, taken by the A.P.’s Lynne Sladky in February 2002, and which has become quite familiar and even common over the past seven years as a general reference to Bush’s “terror war” and the facility at Gitmo, might have become something more if greater resistance to BushCo’s torture regime had taken hold years ago.

It first appeared that America’s torture program coincided with the issuance of the Bybee memo on August 1, 2002, authorizing a whole menu of coercive techniques. The report from the Senate Arms Services Committee, however, reveals that SERE psychologist Bruce Jessen circulated a memo on “exploitative” techniques back in April of 2002. Others also claim that the administration — driven to find a linkage between al-Qaeda and Iraq — was already seeking information on armed services interrogation resistance techniques for the purpose of applying the coercion itself, as early as December 2001, predating the arrival of “enemy combatants” at Gitmo.

I’m not suggesting that the prisoner on this gurney — laid out and chained like a wounded animal — was the victim of torture. (From captions elsewhere, the scene is described as a method for moving a war injured detainee from his cell to an interrogation, and back again.) What I am saying, given the data trickling out now, as well as the BushCo’s intent to justify its own terror agenda, is that the image, in its appearance of supplication, is as suggestive of sub-human treatment and torture at Gitmo as any other photo I’ve seen.

(photo: Lynne Sladky/A.P. caption: In this February 2002 photo, a detainee from Afghanistan is carried on a stretcher before being interrogated by military officials at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.)

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