Last week over at ZenPundit, Mark Safranski offered an interesting suggestion about what was really going on at Abu Ghraib--that the photos were staged and deliberately leaked so as to demoralize our enemies in the Middle East. As he puts it:
the shocking pictures, for all their political fall out, remediate a deficit American forces suffer in a narrow military sense - outside of actual combat engagements, we are not much feared because by and large we do not commit the usual litany of atrocities of an occupying army.
I’ll admit that it seems far-fetched, but it fits in well with the revelation that the most gruesome photos that have appeared so far--the ones showing actual rape--have turned out to have been doctored. Furthermore, it is perfectly consistent with what Pfc. Lynndie England has claimed: that "I was instructed by persons in higher rank to stand there and hold this leash and look at the camera." Finally, there’s no denying that American casualties have dropped off noticeably since the release of the photos.
Now, assuming that the hooded figures appearing in the photos were actually prisoners, and not, for instance, paid actors, this still raises serious ethical questions. Unfortunately Jeff Tiel, our resident military ethicist, is away in Florence--I’m sure he’d have some interesting things to say on this matter.