Where is the Exit?

How easy is it to get out of a military operation  in full swing? What if you don’t agree with what is going on? Is torturing prisoners an effective way to be relieved of your duties? These are all questions that could be brought up after watching the film Standard Operating Procedure. More specifically, did those involved in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal have an option to leave?

As most Americans are well aware of, the scandal at Abu Ghraib was nothing short of shameful to America. The violent acts of torture committed there were very uncharacteristic of the US military and the motives of the individuals who committed the acts are unknown. There could be many reasons; boredom, pure meanness, revenge, emotional distress and frustration built up inside of them from simply working at the prison. Although we will never know for sure, it is worthwhile to investigate some of the causes.

The more intriguing of the possible motives is emotional distress. While at first this sounds like something suffered by prisoners, people must also take into account the stressful nature of the soldier’s job. After all, they were living in conditions similar to the prisoners and were forced to stay on prison grounds, going outside even posed the risk of being hit by an incoming shell. (click here to get for detail on living conditions at the prison) These soldiers probably really yearned for home and at that point would have done almost anything to go back. Maybe that anything was torturing the prisoners, it would earn them attention and surely get them taken off the job. Indeed this tactic may work, but are there any other options?

Let us pretend we are a soldier working at Abu Ghraib during this time. You wake up early, walk out of your converted prison cell to witness your commanding officer beating a prisoner. You do not agree with his actions and wish to take some sort of action to stop the cruelty. But who can you tell about these awful acts? You soon decide that you want out of the prison because your are morally against the program, who do you talk to then?

These are plausible questions. Soldiers had nobody to tell, nobody to complain to or express their wishes to. They could tell fellow soldiers but that would do no good. They could not tell their superiros because those officers were the ones committing the acts. Therefore those desperate soldiers had no options, other than than staying at the prison. If they had a way out from the beginning would it have prevented this awful scandal from happening? Even though we will never know, having a way out could have saved the dignity of many prisoners and of America. It could have prevented supposedly good soldiers, such as Lynndie England, from becoming Americas vision of torture and abuse.

(click here to see some photos from the prison)

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