[News] U.S. Soldiers Swap Gore for Porn

Anti-Imperialist News News at freedomarchives.org
Wed Sep 28 16:47:01 EDT 2005

 From eastbayexpress.com
Originally published by East Bay Express 2005-09-28
©2005 New Times, Inc. All rights reserved.

U.S. Soldiers Swap Gore for Porn
In an echo of the Abu Ghraib fiasco, grisly images of dead, mutilated 
Iraqis are traded for access to pornography, an apparent breach of Geneva 
By Chris Thompson

If you want to see the true face of war, go to the amateur porn Web site 
<http://NowThatsFuckedUp.com/>NowThatsFuckedUp.com. For almost a year, 
American soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan have been taking 
photographs of dead bodies, many of them horribly mutilated or blown to 
pieces, and sending them to Web site administrator Chris Wilson. In return 
for permission to post these images, Wilson gives the soldiers free access 
to his site. American soldiers have been using the pictures of disfigured 
Iraqi corpses as currency to buy pornography.

At Wilson's Web site, you can see an Arab man's face sliced off and placed 
in a bowl filled with blood. Another man's head, his face crusted with 
dried blood and powder burns, lies on a bed of gravel. A man in a leather 
coat who apparently tried to run a military checkpoint lies slumped in the 
driver's seat of a car, his head obliterated by gunfire, the flaps of skin 
from his neck blooming open like rose petals. Six men in beige fatigues, 
identified as US Marines, laugh and smile for the camera while pointing at 
a burned, charcoal-black corpse lying at their feet.

The captions that accompany these images, which were apparently written by 
soldiers who posted them, laugh and gloat over the bodies. The person who 
posted a picture of a corpse lying in a pool of his own brains and entrails 
wrote, "What every Iraqi should look like." The photograph of a corpse 
whose jaw has apparently rotted away, leaving a gaping set of upper teeth, 
bears the caption "bad day for this dude." One person posted three 
photographs of corpses lying in the street and titled his collection "DIE 

This could become a public-relations catastrophe. The Bush administration 
claims such sympathy for American war dead that officials banned the media 
from photographing flag-draped coffins being carried off cargo planes. 
Government officials and American media pundits have repeatedly denounced 
the al-Jazeera network for airing grisly footage of Iraqi war casualties 
and American prisoners of war. The legal fight over whether to release the 
remaining photographs of atrocities at Abu Ghraib has dragged on for 
months, with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Meyers arguing 
that the release of such images will inflame the Muslim world and drive 
untold numbers to join al-Qaeda. But none of these can compare with the 
prospect of American troops casually bartering pictures of suffering and 
death for porn.

"Two years ago, if somebody had said our soldiers would do these things to 
detainees and take pictures of it, I would have said that's a lie," sighed 
recently retired General Michael Marchand, who as assistant judge advocate 
general for the Army was responsible for reforming military training policy 
in the wake of Abu Ghraib. "What soldiers do, I'm not sure I can guess 

But for Chris Wilson, it's all in a day's work. "It's an unedited look at 
the war from their point of view," he says of the soldiers who contribute 
the images. "There's always going to be a slant from the news media. ... 
And this is a photo that comes straight from their camera to the site. To 
me, it's just a more real look at what's going on."

Wilson, a 27-year-old Web entrepreneur living in Florida, created the site 
a year ago, asked fans to contribute pictures of their wives and 
girlfriends, and posted footage and photographs bearing titles such as 
"wife working cock" and "ass fucking my wife on the stairs." The site was a 
big hit with soldiers stationed overseas; about a third of his customers, 
or more than fifty thousand people, work in the military. Wilson says 
soldiers began e-mailing him, thanking him for keeping up their morale and 
"bringing a little piece of the States to them." But other soldiers 
complained that they had problems buying memberships to his service. "They 
wanted to join the site, the amateur wife and girlfriend site," he says. 
"But they couldn't, because the addresses associated with their credit 
cards were Quackistan or something; they were in such a high-risk country 
that the credit card companies wouldn't approve the purchase."

That was when Wilson hit upon the idea of offering free memberships to 
soldiers. All they had to do was send a picture of life in Iraq or 
Afghanistan, and they'd get all the free porn they wanted. All sorts of 
images began appearing over the transom, but he dedicated a free section of 
the site to the most "gory" pictures. Asked what he feels upon viewing a 
new batch, Wilson says: "Personally, I don't look at it one way or another. 
It's newsworthy, and people can form their own opinions."

One soldier, who would not reveal his name or unit, defended his decision 
to post pictures of the dead, which he says he did after returning from a 
tour of duty. "I had just finished watching the beheading of one of our 
contractors that was taken hostage over in Iraq," he said via e-mail. "I 
figured since that was all over the Web, maybe these pictures would make 
some potential suicide bomber think twice after seeing what happens AFTER 
you pull the pin.

"What you interpret [as] maliciousness and bravado may be how [soldiers] 
react to situations where they almost die or they just saw their buddy get 
killed," he continued. "I will not defend the people who have posted 
pictures of dead, innocent Iraqis, but in my opinion, the 
insurgents/terrorists that try to kill us and end up getting killed in 
return have absolutely no rights once they are dead.

"Obviously these postings do not help our public image at all," the soldier 
concluded. "However, I believe the US has been far too concerned about our 
public image as of late. ... We need to take a much harsher stand against 
these Islamic fundamentalists and stop giving them the royal American 
treatment. They need to be taught a lesson, a lesson hard enough that they 
will think twice before waging a jihad against us."

Wilson's Web site has made the news before -- but not for posting pictures 
of murdered people. Last October, the New York Post reported that the 
Pentagon was investigating him for posting naked pictures of female 
soldiers in Iraq. After a few months, the Post reported that the Pentagon 
had blocked access to the site from US military facilities in Iraq. In the 
wake of the Post's stories, Wilson says, he was bombarded with requests for 
interviews from newspapers and radio stations. Even after he began posting 
photographs of corpses late last year, media inquiries focused exclusively 
on his nudie pics. It wasn't until reporters from the European press 
contacted him in early September that anyone took notice of Wilson's 
snuff-for-porn arrangement with American troops.

"The soldiers thing, I think the Italians picked it up first," Wilson says. 
"I've done interviews with the Italians, the French, Amsterdam. ... They 
were very critical, saying the US wouldn't pick it up, because it's such a 
sore spot. ... It raises too many ethical questions. ... I started to 
laugh, because it's true."

When contacted for this story, a White House spokeswoman said, "If we have 
a comment, we'll call you back." They never did. But according to Army 
spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Chris Conway, Pentagon policy may be 
ambivalent when it comes to soldiers posting pictures of mutilated war 
victims. "There are policies in place that, on the one hand, safeguard 
sensitive and classified information, and on the other hand protect the 
First Amendment rights of service members," he says, adding that field 
commanders may issue additional directives. "In plain English, if you're on 
the job working for the Department of Defense, you shouldn't be 
freelancing. You should be doing your duty."

If American soldiers in the field are always considered representatives of 
their government, international law clearly prohibits publishing and 
ridiculing images of war dead. The First Protocol of the Geneva Conventions 
states that "the remains of persons who have died for reasons related to 
occupation or in detention resulting from occupation or hostilities ... 
shall be respected, and the gravesites of all such persons shall be 
respected, maintained, and marked." The first Geneva Convention also 
requires that military personnel "shall further ensure that the dead are 
honorably interred, if possible according to the rites of the religion to 
which they belonged."

No one can reasonably expect a war without war crimes. But thanks to modern 
communications technology, photographic evidence of its brutality will 
always be with us. Roughly two hundred soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan 
document their experiences in online "milblogs," and digital cameras are 
ubiquitous. No one can stop soldiers from posting pictures of eviscerated 
corpses for all to see, and no one should ever again be able to feign 
ignorance of war's human cost.

Or so you'd think. Yet in the weeks since the European press uncovered the 
story and in the week since the site was first noticed by Eric Muller, law 
professor and author of the blog <http://IsThatLegal.com/>IsThatLegal.com, 
not a single US daily newspaper had covered it -- as of press time. 
Representatives from Amnesty International and Human Rights First even 
refused to comment, although both organizations ostensibly exist to condemn 
just this kind of practice. Perhaps no one wants to give Chris Wilson more 
publicity, or daily editors are too sensitive about being viewed as 
unpatriotic. Or perhaps the story is just too ugly to contemplate.

Americans have thousands of media outlets to choose from. But they still 
have to visit a porn site to see what this war has done to the bodies of 
the dead and the souls of the living. One of the pictures on Wilson's site 
depicts a woman whose right leg has been torn off by a land mine, and a 
medical worker is holding the mangled stump up to the camera. The woman's 
vagina is visible under the hem of her skirt. The caption for this picture 
reads: "Nice puss -- bad foot."

We have decided to make available some of the photos originally posted on 
<http://NowThatsFuckedUp.com>NowThatsFuckedUp.com, along with the soldiers' 
original subject headings. This decision was not made lightly, but we 
concluded that the graphic nature of the photos, juxtaposed with their 
flippant treatment by members of the US military, is newsworthy. WARNING: 
These are brutally graphic war images that many readers will find 
disturbing. They should NOT be viewed by children or the faint of heart. 
That said, you may find them 
Click on the small photos to view the larger photos with captions.

The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-9977
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