Saturday, March 18, 2006

AS ONE OF THE PEOPLE who wrote about Ali Shalal Qaissi, I feel obligated to post about today's NYT article reporting that Qaissi is not the man shown in the famous photograph that has become symbolic of the detainee abuse by Americans at Abu Ghraib.

Having said this, I am going to quote from what I believe is the most relevant part of the Times piece:

Certainly, he was at Abu Ghraib, and appears with a hood over his head in some photographs that Army investigators seized from the computer belonging to Specialist Charles Graner, the soldier later convicted of being the ringleader of the abuse.

However, he now acknowledges he is not the man in the specific photograph he printed and held up in a portrait that accompanied the Times article. But he and his lawyers maintain that he was photographed in a similar position and shocked with wires and that he is the one on his business card. The Army says it believes only one prisoner was treated in that way.

"I know one thing," Mr. Qaissi said yesterday, breaking down in tears when reached by telephone. "I wore that blanket, I stood on that box, and I was wired up and electrocuted."

Susan Burke, a lawyer in Philadelphia who is representing Mr. Qaissi and other former prisoners in a lawsuit against civilian interrogators and translators at Abu Ghraib, said that Mr. Qaissi had been abused in the same way as the man in the photo. "The sad fact is that there is not only one man on the box," she said.

Using a name that Mr. Qaissi is often called, she said, "Haj Ali is but one of many victims of the torture by Graner and the others."

I don't know if Ali knew he was not the man in that photo, or if he genuinely believed he was -- having stood on similar boxes in similar positions and having experienced the same torture. I'm not happy that it turns out the person in that particular photo was someone else. That said, I would be much more unhappy (from the standpoint of truth) if Ali had never been in Abu Ghraib at all and had never been attached to electrical wires and told he would be electrocuted and (in his testimony) actually was subjected to electric shocks.

No comments: