Thursday, January 27, 2005

Seymour Hersh: "We've Been Taken Over by a Cult"

"In the middle of all of this, I get a call from a mother in the East coast, Northeast, working class, lower middle class, very religious, Catholic family. She said, I have to talk to you. I go see her. I drive somewhere, fly somewhere, and her story is simply this. She had a daughter that was in the military police unit that was at Abu Ghraib. And the whole unit had come back in March, of -- The sequence is: they get there in the fall of 2003. Their reported after doing their games in the January of 2004. In March she is sent home. Nothing is public yet. The daughter is sent home. The whole unit is sent home. She comes home a different person. She had been married. She was young. She went into the Reserves, I think it was the Army Reserves to get money, not for college or for -- you know, these -- some of these people worked as night clerks in pizza shops in West Virginia. This not -- this is not very sophisticated. She came back and she left her husband. She just had been married before. She left her husband, moved out of the house, moved out of the city, moved out to another home, another apartment in another city and began working a different job. And moved away from everybody. Then over -- as the spring went on, she would go every weekend, this daughter, and every weekend she would go to a tattoo shop and get large black tattoos put on her, over increasingly -- over her body, the back, the arms, the legs, and her mother was frantic. What's going on? Comes Abu Ghraib, and she reads the stories, and she sees it. And she says to her daughter, “Were you there?” She goes to the apartment. The daughter slams the door. The mother then goes -- the daughter had come home -- before she had gone to Iraq, the mother had given her a portable computer. One of the computers that had a DVD in it, with the idea being that when she was there, she could watch movies, you know, while she was overseas, sort of a -- I hadn't thought about it, a great idea. Turns out a lot of people do it. She had given her a portable computer, and when the kid came back she had returned it, one of the things, and the mother then said I went and looked at the computer. She knows -- she doesn't know about depression. She doesn’t know about Freud. She just said, I was just -- I was just going to clean it up, she said. I had decided to use it again. She wouldn't say anything more why she went to look at it after Abu Ghraib. She opened it up, and sure enough there was a file marked “Iraq”. She hit the button. Out came 100 photographs. They were photographs that became -- one of them was published. We published one, just one in The New Yorker. It was about an Arab. This is something no mother should see and daughter should see too. It was the Arab man leaning against bars, the prisoner naked, two dogs, two shepherds, remember, on each side of him. The New Yorker published it, a pretty large photograph. What we didn’t publish was the sequence showed the dogs did bite the man -- pretty hard. A lot of blood. So she saw that and she called me, and away we go. There's another story."



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