Random neuron firing, lame philosophy, literary pontificating, movies, sex, clothes & other femme stuff

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Abu Ghraib again

I don't know why I'm so obsessed with the Abu Ghraib story. Well, yes I do. So many of the images in the news are of sexual domination rather than the infliction of physical injuries obviously requiring medical treatment. We don't see the images of the beatings, the phosphorus skin-burning, the cut stitched up by a guard, the boots stomping on bare feet and hands.

I cherish pleasant memories of having participated in consensual acts resulting in images that look similar to many of those we do see, not to mention acts that would have resulted in such images had someone remembered to bring a camera. And I look forward hopefully (though perhaps vainly, considering my antiquity) to cherishing new memories in years to (sigh) come. At various times I've masturbated imagining myself a sadistic prison guard, the prison guard's victim, and some random outsider (Hildy Johnson? Clarice Starling?) coming (sigh) upon a scenario already in progress. Rather than Silence of the Lambs I'd prefer to see Caged Heat again. Or any WIP flick, for that matter. (But that's maybe 'cause I've seen Lambs again more recently.)

I'm honestly not trying to paint myself as an inveterate dominatrix or serious B & D partisan (says she whose signature image can hardly be construed as doing anything else). OK, put it this way: I'm not a member of Samois or the Boston Dungeon Society (not that there's anything wrong with that). I'm much more of a returning visitor. Whatever. I can see I'm never going to situate myself clearly, let alone accurately.

Obviously, the key word in my experience is "consensual." I have no doubt the coercive circumstances of those poor Iraqi prisoners were unimaginably nightmarish, and in multiple ways they suffered excruciating physical and emotional pain I'd be traumatized just to witness, much more to experience directly. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the bleeding from the psychological wounds these MPs inflicted can never be staunched.

Having said that, my heart really goes out to Pfc. Lynndie R. England, the unfortunate poster-girl of this debacle. The way I read this story in today's Times, she fell in love with and got pregnant by a monster who should long ago have been inducted into the fraternity he's made his post-Marine career terrorizing, on the other side of his nightstick, cattle prod, and gun (all the while pursuing his avocation, terrorizing his wife). The only reason Pfc. England was in Tier 1 at all, apparently, was to be with him. Lynndie, you poor fucking idiot.

Abuse Charges Bring Anguish in Unit's Home

Published: May 6, 2004

CUMBERLAND, Md., May 5 — Specialist Charles A. Graner Jr. is a guard at one of Pennsylvania's most heavily secured death row prisons, accused by his former wife of violent behavior.

Pfc. Lynndie R. England was married and divorced before she was 21, worked at a chicken-processing plant in West Virginia and wanted to attend college to become a storm-chasing meteorologist.

. . . .

An internal Army report made public this week described Specialist Graner, 35, as supervising some of the abusive behavior. He also appears in several photographs, including one in which he stands with arms folded over a pile of naked Iraqi men.

Specialist Graner, who wears a Marine Corps eagle tattoo on his right arm, served in the corps from April 1988 until May 1996, when he left with the rank of corporal, according to military records. He went to work immediately at the State Correctional Institution Greene, in southwestern Pennsylvania, where he has held an entry-level corrections officer position ever since.

Two years after he arrived at Greene, the prison was at the center of an abuse scandal. Prison officials declined to say whether Specialist Graner had been disciplined in that case, citing privacy laws.

Inmates and advocates for prisoner rights asserted in 1998 that guards at the prison routinely beat and humiliated prisoners, including through a sadistic game of Simon Says in which guards struck prisoners who failed to comply with barked instructions.

After an investigation, the warden was transferred, two lieutenants were fired and about two dozen guards were reprimanded, demoted or suspended.

Specialist Graner was involved in a bitter divorce. In court papers, his wife, Staci, accused him of beating her, threatening her with guns, stalking her after they separated in 1997 and breaking into her home. Since 1997, local judges have issued at least three orders of protection against him, records show.

One court document filed in February 1998 typified Staci Graner's complaints. "Charles picked me up and threw me against the wall," she said. She added that he had begun sneaking into her home at night to scare her. "I just don't think this is normal behavior, and he does frighten me," she wrote.

Guy Womack, a lawyer for Specialist Graner, said, "He is not violent in any way like that."

. . . . .

The face that has become best known in the scandal belongs to a woman who, her family contends, was the least involved: Private England, who flashes jaunty thumbs-up signs in several photographs.

Trained to be an Army administrator, Private England, who has not been charged, helped process prisoners by taking fingerprints and filing reports. "She didn't guard them, she booked them," her mother, Terrie England, said. "She just happened to be there when they took those photographs."

But military officials say Private England, 21, may have frequently visited the prison because she was romantically involved with Specialist Graner. They say she is pregnant and has been sent to Fort Bragg, N.C., where she continues to be questioned by investigators. Her parents said she had not told them she was pregnant.

Friends and relatives describe Private England as tough and independent, "a woman who's not afraid to break a nail," said Mrs. Shoemaker-Davis, who was previously with the 372nd. She joined the Reserves over her mother's objections while she was in high school because she wanted money for college, relatives said.

"It's not that we couldn't afford it," Mrs. England said. "She had to do it on her own. She's stubborn like that."

Private England was born in Kentucky and moved with her family to a spacious trailer in Fort Ashby, W.Va., after her father, a railroad utility worker, was transferred. As a girl, she loved violent weather and stood outside to catch glimpses of lighting storms and even a tornado, her parents said. Briefly married to longtime friend, she was divorced before she left for Iraq last year.

Her parents said she was thrilled to go to Iraq, but has become bitter by her experiences there.

. . . .

the whole article
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