JUMP CUT
A REVIEW OF CONTEMPORARY MEDIA

 

 

Notes

1a. I wish to express a special debt of appreciation to a number of people. Caroline Picart, Caetlin Benson-Allott, and Paul Hertz conceptually helped in writing this essay. Co-editors Chuck Kleinhans and John Hess and I have been considering these issues together over a long period of time. Scott Curtis generously loaned me some of his books while I was briefly residing in Evanston IL.

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1. Bill Nichols, Representing Reality: Issues and Concepts in Documentary, Bloomington: Indiana University, 1991, p. 31.

2. Some of my essays are available on my web site:
<http://www.uoregon.edu/~jlesage/Juliafolder/INDEX4.HTML>

3. Philip Gourevitch and Errol Morris, Standard Operating Procedure, NY: Penguin, 2008. In the preface, Gourevitch states that he wrote the book on the basis of Morris' interviews, other testimony and documents, and journalistic reports. I use Gourevitch as the author when referring to the book, and Morris as the director when referring to the film.

Errol Morris' blog at New York Times <http://morris.blogs.nytimes.com/>

Errol Morris' website <http://www.errolmorris.com/>

4. <http://www.hbo.com/docs/programs/ghostsofabughraib/resources.html>

5. <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/torture/>

6. <http://www.torturingdemocracy.org/>

7. John Diamond, USA Today, 5/20/04. <http://www.usatoday.com/news/
world/iraq/2004-05-20-interrogatin-rules_x.htm?POE=NEWISVA
>

"Army Col. Marc Warren, a U.S. military lawyer, told the committee that Woods, who is a military intelligence officer, developed the list of techniques after researching methods 'used by interrogators in other places,' or described in 'any document that we could find' on Army interrogation rules." The list on the wall at Abu Ghraib included these techniques: change of scenery down (moving to a more barren cell); dietary manipulation; environmental manipulation' sleep adjustment (reverse schedule); isolation for longer than 30 days; presence of military working dogs; sleep management (72 hours maximum); sensory deprivation (72 hours maximum); stress positions (no longer than 45 minutes). "Sanchez says he never saw rules for interrogation."

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8. Macmillan, 2006.

9. The European Court of Human Rights ruled in 1972 that these techniques did not constitute torture but were cruel and unusual punishment; the UK outlawed them in 1977. Gareth Peirce, lawyer for the Tipton Three—protagonists of The Road to Guantanamo—and for Moazzam Begg, condemns UK hypocrisy in now supporting use of the "five techniques" by the United States while hiding its complicity:

"In August 1971 British soldiers arrested 342 men in Northern Ireland claiming that they were IRA suspects. To force their confessions, 12 of them were taken to a secret site and subjected to the now notorious five techniques (forced standing, hooding, sleep deprivation, starvation and thirst, and white noise). Most of the men later reported experiencing auditory hallucinations; the interrogators referred to the room used for noise as the ‘music box’, and were aware that the detainees were exhibiting distorted thought processes. The Republic of Ireland took the UK to court in Strasbourg for their use of these methods and Britain gave an unconditional promise never to use them again. And yet since November 2001, knowing that these techniques were being adopted (and even enhanced) in our joint operations with the US, our ministers, ministries and intelligence personnel have behaved as if a blind eye could lawfully be turned while at the same time availing themselves of the same sites [for interrogation] and sharing the product of those illegal methods."

Peirce, "Make sure you say that you were treated properly," London Review of Books, 14 May 09 <http://www.lrb.co.uk/v31/n09/print/peir01_.html>

10. "What Is Torture: Taxonomy of Torture," Philip Carter, Slate feature
<http://www.slate.com/features/whatistorture/Taxonomy.html>

11. Wilkerson and Mora are among many military officers and former military members who have become anti-torture activists. Tony Lagouranis has written a book with Allen Mikaelian, Fear Up Harsh: An Army Interrogator's Dark Journey through Iraq (NAL Caliber, 2007).

12. "Brutal Deaths of 2 Afghan Inmates" by Tim Golden, New York Times, May 25, 2005 <http://www.iviews.com/Articles/articles.asp?ref=NT0505-2701>

13. The log was first published in Time, March 3, 2006; available online from Center for Constitutional Rights. The CIA destroyed the interrogation videotapes. The use of torture against al-Qahtani was so extensive that a Military Commission dropped all prosecution of him in May 2008, but in November 2008, new charges were filed. His was a CIA "laboratory" case in that he was a high value detainee, intending to take part in the Sept. 11 attacks but being turned away at U.S. entry. Reportedly Donald Rumsfeld and others at the Pentagon orchestrated, by phone, each step of what was done to him at Guantanamo.

14. Jane Mayer's The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals ((New York: Doubleday, 2008) and Philippe Sands' Torture Team: Rumsfeld's Memo and the Betrayal of American Values (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008) both devote extensive sections to discussing al-Qahtani.

15. See excellent overview article, "Failures of Imagination: American Journalists and the Coverage of American Torture" by Eric Umansky, Columbia Journalism Review, Sept-Oct 2006. Carlotta Gall's original article can be found at <http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9900 EFDD
173FF937A35750C0A9659C8B63&scp=22&sq=bagram&st=nyt
>

16. The CIA's KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation (July 1963) and its successor, Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual (1983)were used in military training conducted in Latin American countries, including Honduras, and in various formats were distributed to hundreds of Latin American graduates of the U.S. Army School of Americas at Fort Benning, GA. (KUBARK then was a code word for the CIA.) The manuals explain and advocate the use of electric shock and many of the current interrogation techniques, including blindfolding, nakedness, disruption of sleep, sensory deprivation, and no toilets. These manuals were printed and massively distributed from Fort Huachaca, Arizona, the U.S. headquarters of military intelligence where Caroline Wood is now posted as an interrogations instructor.

17. At the time this essay is being written, Obama has said the U.S. government will reinstitute Military Commissions to try Guantanamo detainees instead of having them tried in U.S. courts. Military Commissions will allow hearsay evidence against the accused, especially from the CIA.

18. Mark Thompson, "Another Gitmo Grows in Afghanistan," Tim, Jan. 05, 2009 <http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1869519,00.html>

19. Salon Radio: "ACLU on Obama, Bagram and Secrecy," Glenn Greenwald and Jonathan Haefetz of ACLU National Security Project, Feb. 24, 2009 <http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/
radio/2009/02/24/aclu/index1.html
>

20. " Obama Administration Adopts Bush Policy on Rendition of Detainees to Bagram" press release
<http://www.ijnetwork.org/content/blogcategory/20/48/>

21. <http://www.scotusblog.com/wp/us-no-habeas-rights-at-bagram/>

22. Evan Perez and Jess Bravin, "'Enemy Combatant' Label Is Dropped for Detainees," Wall Street Journal, March 13, 2009
<http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123697422076922961.html>

23. Salon Radio: "ACLU on Obama, Bagram and secrecy,"
<http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/
radio/2009/02/24/aclu/index1.html
>

23a. The Bagram prisoners' legal representation is through the International Justice Network, that maintains updated news information about this case.
<http://www.ijnetwork.org/>

24. PDF available through the well-documented website for Torturing Democracy <http://www.torturingdemocracy.org/documents/20030314.pdf>

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25. Michel Kirk is one of Frontline's main documentary producers. He has made numerous documentaries about the Bush administration, especially tracing the processes of how government officials made decisions which lead to the war in Iraq and how the military carried it out. In conjunction with this documentary, Kirk's research and collection of archival material culminates in his masterful four and a half hour documentary Bush's War, which aired in primetime on PBS in March 2008 over two consecutive nights. With the airing of Bush's War, the administration was so angered it threatened to cut PBS' funding in half and eliminate it entirely by 2011. For streaming video of Bush's War and a very large archive of material, see http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/bushswar/

The program's website contains an archive that includes over 40 Frontline films and more than 400 interviews with over 400+ interviews with government and military figures, scholars and journalists.

26. CBS 60 Minutes II, “Abuse Of Iraqi POWs By GIs Probed: 60 Minutes II Has Exclusive Report On Alleged Mistreatment,” April 28, 2004; Seymour Hersh, “Torture at Abu Ghraib: American soldiers brutalized Iraqis. How far up does the responsibility go?” The New Yorker. May 10, 2004
<http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2004/05/10/040510fa_fact>

27. <http://www.ejumpcut.org/archive/jc47.2005/links.html>

28. <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/
torture/interviews/danner.html
>

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29. Not all documentaries tell a coherent moral tale, especially those that are self-consciously postmodernist. See Trinh T. Minh-ha's work, for example.

30. Lecture by Darius Rejali at the University of Oregon, June 4, 2008.

31. Danner's writings at <http://www.markdanner.com/writing/>;

Golden's at <http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/
timestopics/people/g/tim_golden/index.html
>

32. Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, New York: Henry Holt, 2007. P. 126.

33. Mark Benjamin, "Torture planning began in 2001, Senate report reveals," Salon, April 22, 2009 <http://www.salon.com/news/feature/
2009/04/22/benjamin/index.html
>

34. "The CIA's Torture Teachers," NPR, June 25, 2007
<http://www.democracynow.org/2007/6/25/
the_cias_torture_teachers_psychologists_helped
>;

also Mark Benjamin, "The CIA's Torture Teachers," Salon, June 21, 2007
<http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2007/06/21/cia_sere/print.html>

35. Torturing Democracy also features the words of and interview with former prisoners who describe their abuse, including Moazzam Begg, Bisher Al-Rawi, Mohamedou Slahi, Shafiq Rasul, Binyam Mohamed, Asif Iqbal, Mohamed Mazouz, Ahmed Errachidi and Jumah al-Dossari. Not all of these could be interviewed but actors read excerpts from their statements, often over news video of prisoners in similar situations.

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36. New York: Penguin, 2008.

37. Tony Lagouranis with Allen Mikaelian, Fear Up Harsh: An Army Interrogator's Dark Journey Through Iraq, New York: NAL, 2008; Moazzem Begg with Victoria Brittain, Enemy Combatant: My Imprisonment at Guantanamo, Bagram, and Kandahar, London: New Press, 2006.

38. Camera Lucida, p. 26, trans. Richard Howard, NY: Hill and Wang, 1981. [return to page 5 of illustrated essay]

39. Camera Lucida, p. 27.

40. "Standard Operating Procedure: Mediating Torture, Film Quarterly, vol. 62 no. 4 (Summer 2009): 40.

41. Philip Gourevitch, Standard Operating Procedure, p. 72.

42. Tara McKelvey, Monstering: Inside America’s Policy of Secret Interrogations and Torture in the Terror War (New York: Carroll and Graf, 2007, p. 100) cited in Anne McClintock, "Paranoid Empire: Specters from Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib," Small Axe, Number 28 (13:1), March 2009.

Two very important essays about the Abu Ghraib photos repudiate charges that the images are "pornographic," partly because such charges deny the specificity of pornography and also because they downplay the images' recording of torture, humiliation, and abuse on an institutionally sanctioned scale. One such essay is McClintock's. The other is by Judith Butler, "Torture and the Ethics of Photography," Society and Space 25 (2007). I will take up the issue of the images and sexual representation and potential connections between such depictions of sexual humiliation and viewer response. In this context, I see nakedness as part of the photos' sexual representation.

43. Mike Crang, "Picturing Practices: Research through the Tourist Gaze," Progress in Human Geography, 1997, 21: 359-374.

44. I am indebted for this insight to Mary Ann Tétreault, "The Sexual Politics of Abu Ghraib: Hegemony, Spectacle, and the War on Terror," NWSA Journal 18:3 (2006) 34.

45. Butler, "Torture and the Ethics of Photography."

46. "Other Government Agencies," <http://www.salon.com/news/abu_ghraib/
2006/03/14/chapter_5/index.html
>

47. "A Deadly Interrogation—Can the C.I.A. Legally Kill a Prisoner?" by Jane Mayer, The New Yorker, November 14, 2005 <http://www.newyorker.com/
archive/2005/11/14/051114fa_fact?currentPage=all
>;

"The Most Curious Thing," Errol Morris Blog, "Zoom," New York Times, May 19, '08 <http://morris.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/05/19/the-most-curious-thing/>

"Exposure—The Woman behind the Camera at Abu Ghraib" by Philip Gourevitch and Errol Morris, The New Yorker, March 24, 2008,
http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/03/24/080324fa_fact_gourevitch

48. Errol Morris, Commentary over film, DVD, Standard Operating Procedure, Sony Pictures Classics, 2008.

49. Morris and Gourevitch, "Exposure."

50. Mayer, "A Deadly Interrogation."

51. "The Timely Exit," Globe and Mail, May 7-15, 2004. <http://www.raghidadergham.com/print/articles/05_07_2004_argandmail
_Abu_Gharab_Prison_ Atrocities_Globe_and_Mail_Doug_Saunders.doc
>

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52. Also available on CD, Standard Operating Procedure, Varese Sarabande, 2008.

53. I am indebted here to Paul Hertz who watched the film with me and gave me both concepts and vocabulary to put in words what we heard.

54. Butler, "Torture and the Ethics of Photography."

55. I am indebted to Caroline Picart for pointing out to me more nuanced theories of the development of a child into an abuser. Lonnie Athens has formulated a theory of violentization, a process he worked out after conducting numerous interviews with violent convicted prisoners. Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata summarize his ideas at
<http://www.csudh.edu/dearhabermas/tchessay64.htm>

55a. Caetlin Benson-Allott gave me this important insight.

55b. "Hostel II : Representations of the body in pain and the cinema experience in torture-porn" by Gabrielle Murray, Jump Cut 50 (2008)

56. Jane Mayer devotes a whole chapter to Abu Zubayda in her excellent book, The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals, New York: Doubleday, 2008. Latest released CIA documents indicate he was waterboarded 83 times; he had reported it to the Red Cross but it seemed hard to believe at the time.

57. Mary Ann Tétreault, "The Sexual Politics of Abu Ghraib: Hegemony, Spectacle, and the Global War on Terror, " NWSA Journal 18.3 (2006) 33-50

58. Allan Feldman writes that we need to acknowledge the complexities of hearing victims' first person accounts mainly within the context of human rights discourse, which can easily omit from history many of the particularities of individual situations and prematurely impose narrative closure. "Memory Theaters, Virtual Witnessing, and the Trauma-Aesthetic," Biography 27:1 (2004) 163-202.

59. The "survivor narrative" that covers a much longer stretch of time has its many layers and contradictions, is much more difficult to receive, and is likely to become flattened out in the telling. Here are some examples of works that consider the complex aftermath:

  • Dr. John Haney Sessions, dir. Owen Shapiro and Thomas Friedmann, 1983, is an experimental documentary about four adult children of Holocaust survivors.
  • Stalags, 2007, dir. Ari Libsker, is a documentary about pocket book pornography that flourished in Israel the 1960s and portrayed Nazi women officers sexually torturing concentration camp prisoners.
  • "S/M in SA: Sexual Violence, Simulated Sex, and Psychoanalytic Theory" by John K. Noyes (American Imago 55:1, 1998,135-153) analyzes the relation between escalated sexual crime, an increase in S/M prostitution for discipline and bondage, and relations between class-power-gender-race in South Africa.
  • The 1996 documentary Calling The Ghosts: A Story about Rape, War, and Women, directed by Mandy Jacobson and Karmen Jelincic (New York: Women Make Movies) not only describes not only how Muslim women raped in the concentration camp of Omarska turned their pain into activism but also how their daily lives and feelings were drastically changed.
  • Similarly looking at the long aftermath, John Conroy, for Unspeakable Acts, Ordinary People: The Dynamics of Torture (New York: Alfred A. Knopf), interviewed the fourteen Northern Irish men tortured by the British army in 1971 twenty years after that landmark human-rights event; he narrates both the permanent damage done to them as well as the obfuscations of the British government in covering up the torture.

60. Susan Isaacs, " The Nature and Function of Phantasy," The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 24 (1948), pp. 73-97.

61. James Allen, Jon Lewis, Leon F. Litwack, and Hilton Als, Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America, Twin Palm Publishers, 2000; Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others, Picador: 2004.

62. Linda Williams, Hard Core: Power, Pleasure, and the "Frenzy of the Visible," Berkeley: University of CA Press, 1999.

63. See essay by Magnus Ullén in this issue, " Pornography and its critical reception: toward a theory of masturbation."

64. "The Scandal's Growing Shame," Time, May 18, 2007.
<http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,994176,00.html>

65. Vivian Sobchack, "Inscribing Ethical Space: 10 Propositions on Death, Representation, and Documentary," Carnal Thoughts: Embodiment and Moving Image Culture, Berkeley: U CA, 2004, p. 237; revised and expanded from Quarterly Review of Film Studies 9:4, Fall 1984, 283-300.

66. "The Passion of the Christ: Reflections on Mel's Monstrous Messiah Movie and the Culture Wars," Jump Cut 47 (2005)
<http://www.ejumpcut.org/archive/jc47.2005/melsPassion/text.html
>

67. Williams, "Film Bodies: Gender, Genre, and Excess," Film Quarterly, 44:4 (Summer 1991) 4.

68. Downloadable as PDF at <http://www.ccrjustice.org/tipton-three>

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69. Mark Danner, "US Torture: Voices from the Black Sites," New York Review of Books, April 9, 2009.
<http://www.markdanner.com/articles/show/151>

70. "News of a Kidnapping," The Nation, June 14, 2006
<http://www.thenation.com/doc/20060703/klawans/single>

71. David D'Arcy, "Michael Winterbottom's Road Movie," Green Cine, July 6, 2006 <http://www.greencine.com/article?action=view&articleID=306>

72. Gareth Peirce writes eloquently about this issue of UK complicity in and secrecy about torture. See her essay, "'Make sure you say that you were treated properly': Gareth Peirce Writes about Torture, Secrecy and the British State," London Review of Books, May 14, 2009.
<http://www.lrb.co.uk/v31/n09/print/peir01_.html>

73. Allan Feldman summarizes this practice and the scholarship around it. He relates it to contemporary abuse narratives presented for a social goal, in this case, for the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions in South Africa. "Memory Theaters, Virtual Witnessing, and the Trauma-Aesthetic"

74. "Regarding the Torture of Others," New York Times, May 23, 2004
<http://donswaim.com/nytimes.sontag.html>

75. "CCR Guantánamo Attorneys Comment After President’s Speech" May 21, 2009 <http://ccrjustice.org/newsroom/press-releases/
ccr-guantánamo-attorneys-comment-after-president’s-speech
>

76. As Naomi Klein analyzes in The Shock Doctrine.

77. Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence, New York: Verso, 2004, pp. 8-9.


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