NOTE: Welcome, Jawa Report readers! And thanks for the link, Rusty.
I want to emphasize that I don't claim to know for sure whether Haj Ali was given electric shocks. We have the Taguba report saying the wires were dead, and Haj Ali saying they were live. One of them is wrong, but which one remains unproven. However, PBS does not appear to even acknowledge the contradiction, instead taking Ali's claim that the wires were live at face value.
Via LGF, SFGate.com notes that the PBS newsmagazine show "Now" is running an interview with Haj Ali Shallal Abbas, a former member of Sadaam Hussein's Baath party. He claims to be the man in the infamous Abu Ghraib photo of a prisoner wearing a black hood, standing on a box and holding wires in his hands:
"I remember the box, the pipes, even the two wires," Haj Ali says in reference to the photo which, with others like it, showed the world how U.S. soldiers were abusing Iraqi inmates.Sounds horrifying, but CBS and the Associated Press reported, when the Abu Ghraib photos were first aired on "60 Minutes II" a year ago, that the wires were not hooked up to an electrical source:
"They made me stand on a box with my hands hooked to wires and shocked me with electricity," Ali recalls through an interpreter in his first in-depth American TV interview. "It felt like my eyeballs were coming out of their sockets. I fell, and they put me back up again for more."
One of the photos showed a hooded prisoner standing on a box with wires attached to his hands. CBS reported the prisoner was told that if he fell off the box, he would be electrocuted, although in reality the wires were not connected to a power supply.Indeed, U.S. Army Major General Antonio Taguba's 53-page report on Abu Ghraib, despite listing numerous specific examples of extreme inmate abuse, including beatings, sodomy, and dog bites, nevertheless found that the wires shown in the photo were used only "to simulate electric torture."
And Haj Ali's story has evolved over time. In an August 8, 2004 interview with ABC News, he never mentioned the hood photo, or being electrocuted. Then, in January 2005, he told Vanity Fair that he was the man in the hood, and was given electric shocks as well. As the Daily Mirror noted, that was the first time he had made such a claim.
Abu Ghraib was bad enough without piling false allegations on top of what actually happened. So, were CBS and Taguba mistaken? Is Haj Ali telling the truth?
Apparently it doesn't matter to PBS, as long as his story reflects badly on the U.S. occupation. That may be why Ken Ferree, the new head of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, thinks PBS could stand a little improvement.