Abu Ghraib diz muito sobre os últimos oito anos nos Estados Unidos.
A matéria da New Yorker, escrita pelo Errol Morris (maior documentarista vivo, eu insisto em dizer isso) e Philip Gourevitch, é longa e tenebrosa. Mas dá alguns dos pormenores do documentário que ele acabou de lançar sobre a “prisão”.
The prisoners—several thousand of them, clad in orange—were crowded behind concertina wire. “The encampment they were in when we saw it at first looked like one of those Hitler things, like a concentration camp, almost,” Davis said. “They’re in there, in their little jumpsuits, outside in the mud. Their rest rooms was running over. It was just disgusting. You didn’t want to touch anything. Whatever the worst thing that comes to your mind, that was it—the place you would never, ever, ever, ever send your worst enemy.”
The M.P.s of the 372nd were told to make themselves at home in an abandoned prison block, a compound ravaged by looters and invaded by the desert. The sand lay several inches deep in places, mixed with decomposing trash. Moving in meant digging out and sweeping up, and when you’d purged the debris—weird stuff, some of it; for instance, used syringes, which just made you wonder—what you had were bare prison cells. The military term of art for the place where soldiers sleep and bathe and eat on base is L.S.A., which means “life-support area,” and at other forward operating bases around Iraq an L.S.A. meant climate-controlled tents and a mess hall, electricity and hot water, a gym and an Internet café, phones and satellite television, PX shops and fast-food joints. A proper L.S.A. is an outpost of the motherland, and it affirms the sense of pride and tribe that is essential to morale and discipline. At Abu Ghraib, showers were wooden sheds with cold-water drums propped overhead. The unit had no field kitchen, so chow was combat rations—M.R.E.s, meals-ready-to-eat—breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a cardboard box; everything in a polymer packet.
She liked to look. She might recoil from violence, but she was drawn to its aftermath. When others wanted to look away, she’d want to look more closely. Wounded and dead bodies fascinated her. “She would not let you step on an ant,” Sergeant Davis said. “But if it dies she’d want to know how it died.” And taking pictures fascinated her. “Even if somebody is hurt, the first thing I think about is taking photos of that injury,” Harman said. “Of course, I’m going to help them first, but the first reaction is to take a photo.” In July, she wrote to her father, “On June 23 I saw my first dead body I took pictures! The other day I heard my first grenade go off. Fun!” Later, she paid a visit to an Al Hillah morgue and took pictures: mummified bodies, smoked by decay; extreme closeups of their faces, their lifeless hands, the torn flesh and bone of their wounds; a punctured chest, a severed foot. The photographs are ripe with forensic information. Harman also had her picture taken at the morgue, leaning over one of the blackened corpses, her sun-flushed cheek inches from its crusted eye sockets. She is smiling—a forced but lovely smile—and her right hand is raised in a fist, giving the thumbs-up, as she usually did when a camera was pointed at her.
Most of the photographs from Harman’s first night show solitary naked prisoners in stress positions, cuffed to the bars of their cells or stretched and bent, forward or backward, over a bunk bed, with their hands bound to the far railing. Some of the prisoners are hooded with sandbags, some with underpants. One naked man is lying face down on a concrete floor. Several photographs show a row of prisoners in orange jumpsuits doing pushups in the hallway, and in one Staff Sergeant Ivan (Chip) Frederick—the night-shift officer in charge of the whole hard site—can be made out, in the background. Nobody in these photographs appears to be aware of the camera, and the pictures have the quality of stolen glimpses of men rendered into hellish statuary. Harman said that she began photographing what she saw because she found it hard to believe. “If I come up to you and I’m like, ‘Hey this is going on,’ you probably wouldn’t believe me unless I had something to show you,” she said. “So if I say, ‘Hey this is going on. Look, I have proof,’ you can’t deny it, I guess.” That was the impulse, she said. “Just show what was going on, what was allowed to be done.”
Não deixem de ler a matéria, é um filme de terror, mas é um pouco da realidade do que tem sido feito em nome da segurança nacional americana. E também é o maior legado do presidente Bush: a volta de campos de prisioneiros, de tortura institucional e da lógica de guerra para a agenda aberta da política contemporânea (claro, ela nunca saiu da agenda fechada)