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In the Shadow of Abu Ghraib: Death Row Prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal On Iraq Prison Scandal

May 10, 2004

The photos from Abu Ghraib show Spec. Charles Graner Jr. in photographs giving the "thumbs up" over piles of naked Iraqi men. Graner reportedly worked as a prison guard in Virginia and at SCI Greene–the notorious prison in southwestern Pennsylvania where political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal is held on Death Row. We hear Abu Jamal’s latest commentary recorded by the Prison Radio Project. [includes rush transcript]

The photos from Abu Ghraib repeatedly show Spec. Charles Graner Jr. in photographs giving the "thumbs up" over piles of naked Iraqi men.

This same Graner reportedly worked as a prison guard in Virginia and at the Greene County state correctional institution. Prisoners there claim Graner beat and humiliated inmates while he worked there as a prison officer. This according to the Sunday Herald. SCI Greene is the notorious prison in southwestern Pennsylvania where political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal is held on Death Row.

  • Mumia Abu Jamal, radio commentator and Pennsylvania death row inmate recorded by Prison Radio.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Abu Jamal’s latest commentary.

MUMIA ABU JAMAL: In the shadows of Abu Ghraib prison, the color photos coming out of the dreaded Abu Ghraib prison on the outskirts of Baghdad are racing around the world, silent yet eloquent testament about what Americans really think about the people they allegedly came here to liberate. The photos in the age of the Internet are racing through the Arab and Muslim world and showing a side of the American character that seldom gets to be seen, especially abroad. The photos of naked men, some posed with laughing jeering women is the height of humiliation and tells everyone who can see that Americans hold the Iraqis and by extension other Arabs in utter contempt.

This is not America, some politicians exclaim. I am appalled, another claims. Yet, what is truly chilling and perhaps more chilling than the naked human pyramid shown is the sheer glee shown in the faces of the Americans. The photos reported in British tabloids of gleeful soldiers urinating, pissing on naked Iraqis tells the same baleful tale. This is the action of contempt, hatred, disrespect, and conquest. Are the Americans and the Brits liberators or occupiers? One need look no further than the faces of photos of Abu Ghraib for the answer. When speaking recently with Emory Douglas, the celebrated former Minister of culture and chief artist at the Black Panther party, Emory brought back to mind an image that is also lost in history. He reminded me of a police raid on the west Philadelphia offices on the Black Panther party in august 31, 1970, when the police armed with automatic weapons, stripped men in the streets. I also thought of the infamous Charles Stewart case from Boston when a white man claimed a black man killed his wife. The cops descended on Rocksberry–black Boston, like a plague. They stripped men in the streets of Beantown.

Many of the people who are now in Iraq, especially those in the reserves are cops and prison guards. The treatment of Iraqis at Abu Ghraib has the dark precedence in the prisons and police stations across America. According to journalist, Seymour Hersh of the "New Yorker" there have been cases of sodomy against prisoners and killing. Shades of Abner Luima, huh? If you hate someone, if you disrespect them, if you fear them, how can you liberate them? As we have said from the very beginning, the Iraq adventure is not and never has been about liberating the oppressed people of Iraq. Indeed, a recent "USA Today"-CNN poll suggests that Iraqis have come to that conclusion themselves, with 71% stating that Americans are occupiers. Americans may call it liberation but they’re bringing torture, humiliation and domination. It is somehow fitting that these depraved events have happened in one of the most dreadful prisons of the Hussein regime. It shows the continuity of torture and terror. Now, if the U.S. history is any guide, prepare for the whitewash. It is sure to come. From death row, this is Mumia Abu Jamal.

AMY GOODMAN: That commentary recorded by the prison radio project.

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