In his speech at the United States Army War College the other day, President Bush promised to “fund the construction of a modern, maximum security prison,” then demolish Abu Ghraib, a symbol of oppression by both the regieme of Saddam Hussein and the American occupation.
Members of the Iraqi governing council, including the Interior Minister, and human rights groups, on the other hand, think that the plan to demolish Abu Ghraib misses the point, preferring an emphasis on ending the mistreatment of prisoners. The current head of the governing council, Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer, called the demolition idea a “waste of resources”, saying “Torture has taken place in every vault in Iraq”.
The American occupation is already too heavily associated with prisons. Do we really need to add another one to the legacy? Presumably, the new American-funded prison would ban unauthorized cameras or camcorders, but given the circumstances, it won’t take long for rumors of abuse to become associated with the new prison, regardless of whether anything’s actually happening or not. With Abu Ghraib, the American abuses are far overshadowed by the years of Saddam’s far more heinous acts. In a new prison, the only abuse echoing through the corridors will be the ones we perpetrated.