Sy Hersh : Children Sodomized at Abu Ghraib as Mothers Watched

Updated May 18, 2009

Journalist Seymour Hersh says there were ‘horrible things done to children of women prisoners, as the cameras run.’

Hersh gave a speech. . . to the ACLU making the charge that children were sodomized in front of women in the prison, and the Pentagon has tape of it.

By Geraldine Seale

[This story was posted by Alex Koppleman. It was originally published on Thursday, July 15, 2004.]

After Donald Rumsfeld testified on the Hill about Abu Ghraib in May, there was talk of more photos and video in the Pentagon’s custody more horrific than anything made public so far. “If these are released to the public, obviously it’s going to make matters worse,” Rumsfeld said. Since then, the Washington Post has disclosed some new details and images of abuse at the prison. But if Seymour Hersh is right, it all gets much worse.

Hersh gave a speech last week to the ACLU making the charge that children were sodomized in front of women in the prison, and the Pentagon has tape of it. The speech was first reported in a New York Sun story last week, which was in turn posted on Jim Romenesko’s media blog, and now and other blogs are linking to the video. We transcribed the critical section here (it starts at about 1:31:00 into the ACLU video.) At the start of the transcript here, you can see how Hersh was struggling over what he should say:

“Debating about it, ummm … Some of the worst things that happened you don’t know about, okay? Videos, um, there are women there. Some of you may have read that they were passing letters out, communications out to their men. This is at Abu Ghraib … The women were passing messages out saying ‘Please come and kill me, because of what’s happened’ and basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys, children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. And the worst above all of that is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror. It’s going to come out.”

“It’s impossible to say to yourself how did we get there? Who are we? Who are these people that sent us there? When I did My Lai I was very troubled like anybody in his right mind would be about what happened. I ended up in something I wrote saying in the end I said that the people who did the killing were as much victims as the people they killed because of the scars they had, I can tell you some of the personal stories by some of the people who were in these units witnessed this. I can also tell you written complaints were made to the highest officers and so we’re dealing with a enormous massive amount of criminal wrongdoing that was covered up at the highest command out there and higher, and we have to get to it and we will. We will. You know there’s enough out there, they can’t (Applause). …. So it’s going to be an interesting election year.”

Notes from a similar speech Hersh gave in Chicago in June were posted on Brad DeLong’s blog. Rick Pearlstein, who watched the speech, wrote: “[Hersh] said that after he broke Abu Ghraib people are coming out of the woodwork to tell him this stuff. He said he had seen all the Abu Ghraib pictures. He said, ‘You haven’t begun to see evil…’ then trailed off. He said, ‘horrible things done to children of women prisoners, as the cameras run.’ He looked frightened.”

So, there are several questions here: Has Hersh actually seen the video he described to the ACLU, and why hasn’t he written about it yet? Will he be forced to elaborate in more public venues now that these two speeches are getting so much attention, at least in the blogosphere? And who else has seen the video, if it exists — will journalists see and report on it? did senators see these images when they had their closed-door sessions with the Abu Ghraib evidence? — and what is being done about it?

(Update: A reader brought to our attention that the rape of boys at Abu Ghraib has been mentioned in some news accounts of the prisoner abuse evidence. The Telegraph and other news organizations described “a videotape, apparently made by US personnel, is said to show Iraqi guards raping young boys.” The Guardian reported “formal statements by inmates published yesterday describe horrific treatment at the hands of guards, including the rape of a teenage Iraqi boy by an army translator.”)

Source / War Room /

Thanks to Harry Edwards / The Rag Blog

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8 Responses to Sy Hersh : Children Sodomized at Abu Ghraib as Mothers Watched

  1. Anonymous says:

    When I try to imagine the sounds of a sodomized child, my brain seizes up.
    What are we (the human race) becoming?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Unfortunately, the terroristic raping of women and of children, boys and girls, is one of the common denominators of war throughout recorded human history. Rape is deliberately used as an extension of war today in the Congo, and there is no age limit on who is raped, or how. Sodomy is said to be one of the main methods used in tying child soldiers throughout Africa today to their various “leaders”, as it once was, quite notoriously, in the British Navy. Let it be noted that while rape is most commonly committed by men, it is possible for women to rape and even sodomize children, as has been alleged in a current US murder case.

    It seems that despite our so-called advances in civilization, we (the human race) are not becoming anything much different than what we have ever been. Ugh, ugh, ugh, indeed.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Check Scahill’s new report-if you dare- here:

  4. Anonymous says:

    To anonymous- ugh,ugh,ugh indeed;
    Do you think we are progressing technically very quickly, and socially very slowly? Could this be the result of conservative (fundamentalist), thinking and influence?

  5. Pollyanna says:

    I dunno if conservative/fundamentalist is even fair game on this issue — altho any belief system that holds women inferior and children as the property of their parents can’t be helping much — tempting to go back to the pre-historical world defeat of mother right, as described by F Engels, and blame it on power-hungry men — but I think even that is cheating. How does one characterize the belief that it is legitimate for one person to exercise physical power over another in order to control or use that person? “Might makes right” maybe comes closest, and that belief can thrive, it seems, in any technological climate.

    Any time a person is compelled by superior physical power to do something or submit to something against his/her will, this belief system comes into play, even, I think, when a parent forces a child to sit down and shut up or be spanked, or a policeman handcuffs a thief caught red-handed (in other words, when it is possible to “justify” the use of physical force as serving some greater good), an injustice is created and, if not addressed, will fester in both parties to its creation.

  6. DC Tedrow says:

    Hey Thorne, et al. –

    You might want to check the date on this one, since I’m guessing many who read this blog are lead to believe that Hersh said this stuff in May 2009. As far as I can tell, this story is actually from July 2004, meaning it’s hardly newsworthy now.


  7. Anonymous says:

    That article at Salon is from 2004.

  8. Anonymous says:

    2004 or 2014, it seems probable the sodomizing of children will keep on happening. We need to change that.
    Knowledge of time frame to bloggers is important. If only to avoid feelings of being manipulated.

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