Standard Operating Procedure was a horrifying documentary. Every bit of it was disturbing to me. That being said, it was very well made and informative. I thought it was very interesting that it had interviews with many of the people accused of the crimes, although Charles Graner, the one seen as the “mastermind”, would have been interesting to hear from. I didn’t buy much of what the soldiers said about their reasoning behind their behavior or explanation of the acts of torture they committed. I completely disagree with the argument that they show a “thumbs-up” to the camera not because they condone what is going on in the picture, but because cameras just instinctively make them pose. This was an argument Susan Sontag made as well. Yes, people pose for cameras, but if the person next to me is DEAD, I would not be smiling with a thumbs-up.
I do understand this argument though. No matter how much we all say we would never allow these things to happen if we were there witnessing them, there’s no way for us to really know unless we’re put in a similar situation. This is what the Stanford Prison Experiment, where guards watching prisoners quickly became violent, exemplified.
I don’t think I could ever commit, or quietly witness, such heinous acts against another human being, no matter the circumstances. Fighting violence with violence will get us nowhere. I wish the people who committed these crimes would have been punished much more harshly. The way the prison guards talked about their torturous acts throughout the documentary often seemed casual. They came off as having an indifferent feeling toward the situation. Our government’s inability, or perhaps unwillingness, to stop the behavior while it was happening nor severely punish those responsible once it was known, only allows such acts to occur again in the future.