Monday, May 17, 2004

long live the internet! 

US powerless to halt Iraq net images
By Robert Plummer
BBC News Online

Last year's US-led war in Iraq presented a showcase for the Pentagon's superior military technology - but as the occupation drags on, gadgetry is increasingly showing another side of the American armed forces.

When the shocking images depicting the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US troops began to surface, it became clear that many of them were amateur pictures, apparently taken by soldiers using their own private digital cameras.

The internet also played a role in the distribution of the photographs, highlighting the ease with which troops serving in Iraq can now send pictures to friends and relatives back home.

Many of these are quite innocuous, the equivalent of the snaps taken by tourists abroad. But whatever the content, the images are not subject to any kind of military censorship and are transmitted freely back to the US.

In his testimony to congressional committees, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld indicated that the flood of pictures was now beyond the US authorities' control.

"There are a lot more photographs and videos that exist," he said. "If these are released to the public, obviously it is going to make matters worse... I looked at them last night and they are hard to believe."

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