Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

The Mirror ran a story about British soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners with photos. There is a lot of question about the legitimacy of the photos. The BBC has a organized list of the claims against their authenticity and the rebuttals.

BBC News
What the papers say

The Express says soldiers who originally tried to sell the story of mistreatment were told it would be "worth a fortune if there were corroborating pictures and weeks later they produced them".

This sort of commercial and unethical behavior by the media is really disgusting. I guess The Mirror is still standing by their claims, but it seems like they are in a pretty weak position now.

Thanks to everyone on IRC for chasing this one down.


Dan Gillmor
Fake Photos Editor Bounced

  • BBC: Editor sacked over 'hoax' photos. Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan has been sacked after the newspaper conceded photos of British soldiers abusing an Iraqi were fake.
  • Appropriately.

    I bought a new Nokia 7600 when I was in Helsinki. When I landed in Tokyo, my Docomo phone was not working. (I think I missed a bill payment.) But my Nokia 7600 roamed on the J-Phone WCDMA network without a hitch.

    Probably only people who have travelled to Japan from GSM countries will understand how cool it is to be able to use your GSM SIM card in a phone in Japan where we don't have a GSM network.

    More about the phone on my stuff blog.

    In case anyone missed this, there is a detailed article on the torture at Abu Ghraib in The New Yorker. Unlike the sniper rumor, this one is pretty much documented fact. I realize that this is obviously not standard behavior, but it is not a single wacko, but a group of soldiers. It's really quite appalling. How can something like this happen? What is the mood like among American soldiers in Iraq? Is there a general hatred or is it really isolated behavior? I can't imagine an occupying force being very successful without some basic respect for the local citizens.

    I remember hearing that the occupying forces in post-war Japan were selected from soldiers who had not served in combat against the Japanese. Most of the stories you hear about the soldiers occupying Japan are good stories. I suppose it's easier to be nice when there is no resistance, but still... (My sister has a nice post about the story of our family's first interaction with the US occupation of Japan.)

    I also heard from a Spanish friend of mine that there is very little if no hatred towards Muslims after the 3/11 attack in Madrid. People realize that it is a splinter group and are not blaming the Muslims.

    I don't want to over-generalize, but trying to link Al Qaeda to Iraq and the increased racism directed at Muslims in the US really highlights the lack of racial sympathy or understanding on the US's part. I think the US really needs to figure out how to deal with this racial intolerance and ignorance if it's going to try do any kind of nation building.

    Before someone else says it, I think racism in Japan is also very bad, but we're not toppling regimes and trying to rebuild them. I wouldn't trust Japan with that either.

    An interesting article in The Guardian about what we should do in Iraq. She argues that the UN should not support the US in Iraq and should join the mutiny against the US and force the US out of Iraq.

    Naomi Klein, Saturday May 1, 2004, The Guardian
    Mutiny is the only way out of Iraq's inferno

    The UN betrayed Iraq by becoming the political arm of US occupation. Now it must redeem itself

    Can we please stop calling it a quagmire? The United States isn't mired in a bog in Iraq, or a marsh; it is free-falling off a cliff. The only question now is: who will follow the Bush clan off this precipice, and who will refuse to jump?

    More and more are, thankfully, choosing the second option. The last month of US aggression in Iraq has inspired what can only be described as a mutiny: waves of soldiers, workers and politicians under the command of the US occupation authority suddenly refusing to follow orders and abandoning their posts. First Spain announced that it would withdraw its troops, then Honduras, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Kazakhstan. South Korean and Bulgarian troops were pulled back to their bases, while New Zealand is withdrawing its engineers. El Salvador, Norway, the Netherlands and Thailand will likely be next.


    There is a way that the UN can redeem itself in Iraq: it could choose to join the mutiny, further isolating the United States. This would help to force Washington to hand over real power - ultimately to Iraqis, but first to a multilateral coalition that did not participate in the invasion and occupation and would have the credibility to oversee direct elections. This could work, but only through a process that fiercely protects Iraq's sovereignty.

    via Martin Varsavsky