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Mary Mapes: Looking Back at Abu Ghraib 5 Years Later

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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-26-09 06:20 PM
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Mary Mapes: Looking Back at Abu Ghraib 5 Years Later

Mary Mapes

Veteran TV reporter, on the team that broke the Abu Ghraib scandal
Posted April 26, 2009 | 03:35 PM (EST)

Looking Back at Abu Ghraib 5 Years Later

Five years ago, I was at work at CBS News in New York, holding a manila folder to my chest, guarding it with my life. Inside, there were pictures from Abu Ghraib - the pictures - the ones that would soon be seen around the world, the ones that made Americans sick to our stomachs, the ones that very few people knew about at that moment.

Hidden in my folder was an image that would become an icon of our enduring shame - the tragic figure of a man in a ragged shift, his head covered with a black hood, his arms outstretched, an electric cord running up his leg - the Statue of anti-Liberty.

Among the photos was the unforgettable sneer of a woman with a cigarette dangling from her lips, her fingers pointing tauntingly at a prisoner's genitals.

Tucked away in my manila folder was the face of a dead man packed in ice and wrapped in garbage bags. He was battered, his mouth open, his eyes half closed.

These were the scenes that would come to represent our country's secret side.

This was torture American-style.

Along with my hard-working partners, Dan Rather, Dana Roberson and Roger Charles, I had spent months digging out the truth about what had happened behind the imposing walls of the Iraqi prison. We had gathered interviews, anecdotes and documents that indicated American soldiers there were regularly committing acts that violated military law, international treaties and moral boundaries. More ominously, there were signs that these men and women were acting on orders from higher ups.

All we needed to prove the story were the awful pictures we'd heard so much about.

We knew that graphic photos existed somewhere - of simulated electrocution, detainees stacked like cordwood, a grinning American posing with his fist clenched in the face of a bound inmate, dogs attacking cowering Iraqis.

We were told the pictures had been as common as cornflakes among the soldiers serving at Abu Ghraib. One man reportedly showed them off on his computer during meals and used a particularly disturbing shot as a screen saver.

Finding the photos - getting someone to give them up and getting them in front of the world became an all-consuming quest. Not because we wanted to hurt the U.S. military, not because we wanted to embarrass the Pentagon, but because we knew the only way to make this right was to make it public.

We traveled around the world and across the country, we worked the phones and played the computer like a Wurlitzer, we begged and pleaded and kept at it until it finally paid off.

A folder arrived at our office.

We all gathered around. This was what we had been waiting for.

I remember holding the folder in my hands and, for just an instant, hesitating. Part of me didn't want to open it.

That's where this country is right now.


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Richard Steele Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-26-09 06:52 PM
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1. K&R
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customerserviceguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-26-09 08:17 PM
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2. Wow, five years ago, I had forgotten how much time has passed
And it emphasizes one thing that I've been saying since the memos came out: this is going nowhere. Five years ago, we were in the midst of a Presidential election, and Bushco won that year with even greater numbers than he got in 2000.

The mushy middle of the American people just doesn't want to have to think about this issue. It doesn't affect their wallets, so they just don't care.
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JDPriestly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 06:04 AM
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3. Mary Mapes also writes: Our reporting team was honored to win a Peabody for our work
on the nightmare of Abu Ghraib."

Mary Mapes and Dan Rather eventually lost their jobs -- under rather questionable circumstances for very questionable reasons. Was the story that cost Mary Mapes and Dan Rather their CBS jobs payback for the Abu Ghraib story? Were they set up?

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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-27-09 06:19 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. Now there's a thought. Payback, with this crew? I wouldn't
be at all surprised.
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