We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

What’s wrong with this picture

With all the coverage and uproar about the images of American troops, there is probably not much attention spared for the pictures of British troops also accused of abusing Iraqi prisoners/captured. The difference is that the British ones were faked and the saga that started with their appearance in the Daily Mirror with headline ‘Vile’ has come to a climax with the sacking of the editor of the strongly ‘anti-war’ newspaper, Piers Morgan.

The Army has made a forceful rebuttal of the accusations and demonstrated why it was convinced that the Daily Mirror photographs were fakes. The arguments focused on four items – the weapons the soldiers were carrying while ‘abusing’ the Iraqi prisoner, the vehicle in which the alleged assault was supposed to happen, the soldiers’ appearance in the photos i.e. wrong hat, no watch and no tan and the t-shirt worn by the captured.

Our own source listed the ‘things wrong with the photos’ before the published Army rebuttal. It pretty much covers the same points plus a few incidental details I thought you might find interesting.

  1. The most importanty reasons – it’s too clean. Everything in Iraq was covered in dust and shit. Everything in these pictures is clean- the soldiers, the ‘prisoner’, the truck itself. The uniforms look freshly pressed, let alone washed (after being on patrol..?) Same for the ‘prisoners’. Squaddies have been patrolling the streets, climbed in the back of this truck, and there’s not a mark of dust or mud anywhere? Or was the truck specially cleaned so they would have clean enviroment to beat someone up in? Impossible.
  2. No one’s sweating. It’s 40+ degrees, the soldiers are beating a guy up, he’s being beaten up, and no one is sweating. Impossible.
  3. This guy is being beaten almost to death. There’s not a single mark on him. Impossible.
  4. The truck is a Bedford. We had very few DAF’s in Iraq and all were used by the stores department. Troops on patrol used Saxon APC’s or Landrovers. Try to drive a 8 ft wide truck down the back alleys of Basra catching looters. No way.
  5. Those photos are way too good. There are enough photo nuts at Samizdata they should know that. [ed. no need to abuse our contributors…] Squaddies in the back of a truck taking crystal clear pictures, with no bad shadaw or anything else? Compare to the US photos that are grainy and blurred in places.
  6. There’s not a single identifying mark on teh soldiers. No tattoos, no watches, no rings, nothing. And nothing to identify their Regiment or unit either. What’s the point of a ‘trophy photo’ if you can’t prove your in it? You might hide your face, but you would wear something you can point at to prove to your mates that it is you. They won’t believe you otherwise.
  7. There’s no movemnet. There’s no blurring, so unless they are using expensive, super high speedcameras (on patrol? In Basra?) there is no movement. And if the guy in the floor is being hit, or has been hit, I’m Dutch [ed. no he isn’t Dutch, we can vouch for that.]. I have been hit – you automatically curl up and away and try to protect your head, you just do no lie there stretched out.
  8. Since when do sqauddies take happy snaps in black and white?
  9. The rifles. No slings on them (no way do yoiu take your sling off in Basra- someone might grab your rifle) and where did they put them? They look like A1s, though hard to tell. The Mirror’s source claims they were A3s, which will come as news to the manufacturer, let alone to everyone else.
  10. The kit. They aren’t in proper patrol order, the pouches are not only undone they look mostly empty, and there is no sign of body armour, helmets, or the “platypus” water bags everyone carried. Nor is anyone wearing sweat rags, shamaghs, or anything else. Never saw a squaddy look like that on patrol.
  11. The hats. Guys did have soft hats like that, were not supposed to wear them on patrol, it was berets or helmets according to the threat. But even suppose they were wearing the hats – they are wearing the hats whilst beating a guy up?! Put on a soft hat, then start moving furniture around your house. See how long you leave the hat on. But very convenient, if you need to wear non-unit specific but obvious “desert” clothes for a nice picture for the Mirror…
  12. The T-shirt. There were guys wearing T-shirts like that, but not many – it would have been a bit sensitive. It could have been worn by a looter – but mostly bloody convenient, only if you want to show a picture of an ‘Iraqi being beaten up’.

Red Herrings:

  • The way the boots are laced. It is wrong, but maybe that guy just laced his different, no one cared that much as we had bigger fish to fry.
  • Iraqi looks pale. Many do under their clothes.
  • Hessian hoods. Those hoods were used to blindfold prisoners on capture, and to prevent them escaping – though not normally for looters but for higher importance/risk deliberate captures.

The really big point here is what the hell happened to Innocent until Proven Guilty? The Mirror is arguing it is up to us to prove the pictures are false.

Quite. Fortunately, the Army did conclusively prove the pictures were faked, the Mirror admitted they were a hoax, fired the editor and apologised (not unreservedly though). However, the damage done to the morale and reputation of the soldiers and the regiment subjected to such horrendous accusations cannot be easily undone…

19 comments to What’s wrong with this picture

  • ernest young

    When can we expect to read that Piers Morgan is to be tried for treason?

  • I was rather amused when people refered to the prisoner saying he looked as if he were “in a Daz commercial”.

    I rather doubt Piers will get tried for treason, it would be nice to see him done for something after this debacle.

  • Verity

    Don’t be ridiculous, Ernest Young! No one gets tried for treason in Britain! We try to understand them and thank them for helping to illuminate the errorr of our ways.

  • James

    Relieved to see the truth is out and that the British Army has been shown to be innocent of this. They are in fact the victims in this mess.

    Of course, the Arab Street isn’t going to buy that, but who ever cares what the Arab Street buys? They think Al Jazzera is impartial news broadcasting, after all.

  • S. Weasel

    Not all the American photos were real either. The Boston Globe got busted running stills from a porn movie as “prisoner rape” pictures from Iraq. They were handed to the media by two Boston city councilors, who got them from somebody in the Nation of Islam. Only the Globe ran with it.

    To be precise, they showed photos of the two councilors holding a poster-sized blowup of the porn shots, but the action was too visible for American newspaper standards.

    And so, of course, that’s what they apologized for – printing pictures that were too explicit. Not for false accusation. It said in the article that the shots “could not be verified,” and so they regard themselves as having done nothing wrong in that regard.

    Don’t expect heads to roll.

  • Rob Read

    Don’t expect heads to roll.

    Inadvertantly ironic considering Mr Bergs unfortunate encounter with the enemy…

  • S. Weasel

    Oh. <koff>. Sorry.

  • Theodopoulos Pherecydes

    So, who put together the “Boston Globe” and “Mirror” fakes? What was the motive? Who gave the orders? Who provided the technical expertise? Who moved the fabrications into the main stream and palmed them off as reality?

    I think we should be told.

  • Ron


    Wasn’t it Piers Morgan who tried to get James Hewitt executed for treason because of his activities with Princess Diana…?

  • Tim

    Piers Morgan has, through this episode, revealed himself to be one of the nastiest editors the British press has ever seen. If I were an Adam Yoshida-type authoritarian, I’d order him to be put in uniform and sent to Basra to do some useful work for the first time in his life. But I’m not, so I just hope he crawls into a hole somewhere and festers. Good riddance.

  • James

    Don’t expect heads to roll.
    Inadvertantly ironic considering Mr Bergs unfortunate encounter with the enemy…

    The same thought sprung to my mind when I read that, and like yourself, not in a funny way.

    I’ve seen the video. Nothing about it will ever seem funny to me now.

  • The chat about treason is interesting. We have a treason law on the books in the U.S. It hasn’t been used in the lifetime of most of those now living, because the courts and the government – even the conservative side – have been captured by our cultural elites. The liberals hate our country, more or less; the conservatives have doubts about it. It gives truth to the maxim by Sir John Harrington:

    Treason doth never prosper;
    What’s the reason?
    For if treason prospers,
    None dare call it treason.

    Ring a bell, chaps?

  • Call me an old softy,but could they let the lads have Piers in the back of a Bedford for a while?

  • As soon as I saw these photographs in the Mirror I thought they were fakes. I know nothing about the army or photography but it was glaringly obvious that they were staged. Morgan was either a fool or a knave to have published them.

    However, also glaringly obvious, to me anyway, was that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that the ‘intelligence’ that siad there was was just as much trumped up cobblers as these pictures. Just as these pictures were manufactured to order, so was the intelligence suggesting that WMD existed. Morgan has been fired, yet Scarlett has been promoted and Colin Powell has got away with his dodgy photo’s of ‘moblie weapons facilities’ which he passed off as real.

    That this war was entirely manufactured by neo-cons in the Bush administration is as plain as the nose on your face. It amazes me that intelligent people can find any reason to support this horrific tragedy at all.

  • WJ Phillips

    Possible reasons for fake Mirror pics:

    (1) Squaddies want cash.

    (2) Rival paper or UK intelligence services sandbag leading press critic.

    (3) Squaddies know abuse happened but had no photos to prove it.

    (4) Americans want to put a spoke in the wheel of those who contrast low-key British policing methods with Abu Ghraib.

    (4) British Muslims try to stir things up.

  • David Gillies

    Paul Coulam: oh dear – there goes that theory.

    Also, it is by now well known that these people were making it all up. Nerve gas civilians? Saddam? You’re having a laugh.


  • David Gillies,

    What is it like clutching at straws?

  • 网站推广

    Wasn’t it Piers Morgan who tried to get James Hewitt executed for treason because of his activities with Princess Diana…?

  • S. Berrill

    Hello, I’m a cadet in the Queens Lancashire Regiment, or KLBR as it is soon to be. Yes, the photographs were taken in the back of a bedford MJ by a group of QLR territorials, but this was nothing to do with the 2 regular battalions of QLR based currently at Fulwood barracks with a battalion in Cyprus. At the time of the Iraq war the QLR prepared, but did not go out to iraq before the fall of Saddam. An emergency tour was sent and in the meantime the TA volunteers decided to ‘fake a photo’ for the fun of it. The reason for this i would love to know but it had a profound effect on the morale of troops in Iraq. There are numerous reasons why the reservists did this, maybee to put the british army to shame. Maybee they were sent to volunteer by the Mail, maybee the troops wanted money. In my personal opinion what they did was bang out of order and completely pointless…