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“When someone recounts the past, whether it’s Kinbote or Lynndie England or Sabrina Harman, they are re-enacting their past in words, they are trying to recover the various pieces from the bric-a-brac of memory.” the book reached bookstores by Veterans Day in November 2003, less than eight months after Lynch’s rescue. Among the book’s biggest revelations was the assertion that Lynch had been raped while a prisonera claim that Bragg inserted, despite Lynch’s claim that she couldn’t remember the three-hour period during which the rape supposedly occurred. The claim has been countered by the doctor who treated Lynch following her rescue in Iraq, and largely discredited since. Was the rape fact, fiction, or conjecture? Cynics called its inclusion propaganda, but just as well to call it a sign of the times. Whether it’s James Frey lying about a prison term or Colin Powell lying to the United Nations about weapons of mass destruction, we live in an era of unreliable narrators. Think of the phrase “the war on terror.” What does that mean, exactly? Or the word “interrogation” with regard to “enemy combatants.” Isn’t that just a smokescreen for torturing prisoners of war? Think of the Abu Ghraib scandal. Outrage may be a better word for it. Various books have been written about Abu Ghraib, starting with Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib by Seymour Hersh, the journalist who broke the story in The New Yorker in May 2004. Thousands of news stories were filed. The soldiers involved were publicly pilloried, and the name and face of Lynndie Englandthe young Army private photographed holding a naked prisoner’s leashbecame synonymous with American shame. England went to jail, as did some of her cohorts. Yes, there have been trials, but no one of any real authority has ever taken responsibility. No one above the rank of sergeant ever served time, and no one ever faced charges for war crimes, torture, or violations of the Geneva Conventions. And like all tragedies of American life, including 9/11, Abu Ghraib is already fading away into memory. Until last year, few authors had any kind of access to the soldiers who perpetrated the crimes at Abu Ghraib. But in 2007, Tara McKelvey published Monstering: Inside America’s Policy of Secret Interrogations and Torture in the Terror War. That book, according to Hornfischer’s theory, effectively started the fourth wave of books on the war on terror. McKelvey doggedly tracked military documents and computer files supporting claims of abuse, such as one guard’s “wish list” of “alternative interrogation techniques,” including “phone book strikes” and “low-voltage electrocution.” Even more disturbing is McKelvey’s revelation that civilian contractors probably participated in the abuse, and one translator may have sodomized a male teenager. Working from interviews with former detaineesmany of whom express reluctance about sharing their stories McKelvey served up a dozen case studies of abuse that went beyond what was shown in the infamous photographs. The dirty laundry list includes sophisticated forms of torture like stress positioning, monstering” \(deprivation of diet and rape and murder. The worst abuse, she reports, took place at makeshift shortterm detention facilities such as gyms and trailers, where detainees were held for less than 14 days and then released without any record of their imprisonment. She writes about videos of bored prison guards “Robotripping” \(getting stoned on a mixture of Robitussin and another. In addition, McKelvey tracked down many of the principals in the Abu Ghraib photos for interviews, and she was the first writer to interview England in person after the soldier’s trial and subsequent 36-month incarceration. McKelvey’s book isn’t without flaws. She tries a bit too hard to ascribe overly simple sociological motives to the perpetrators, suggesting that the poverty-stricken home lives of some of the soldiers contributed the abuse. For example, Lynndie England worked at a chicken-processing plant where animals were arguably abused \(though, ticipated in amateur porn shoots before her tour of duty in Iraqall of which, McKelvey asserts, not entirely convincingly, predisposed her to bad behavior at Abu Ghraib. Unfortunately, with the Bush administration’s penchant for secrecy, and the fact that the war is still being fought, it will be some years before a full picture of what happened at Abu Ghraib emerges. If and when one finally does, it is likely to have as many facets as a shattered mirror. he latest example of the search for the truth of the Abu Ghraib story is Standard Operating Procedure, which takes two forms: a film by Errol Morris and a book written by Morris and Philip Gourevitch, each of which draws on the same source material: 200 hours of interviews with those who worked at Abu Ghraib, including five of the seven MPs indicted for abuse. Given the multiple lenses through which Morris and Gourevitch tell the soldiers’ stories, Standard Operating Procedure might be considered a phase-five book, a work that simultaneously synthesizes the narratives that came before it and casts doubt on their strict veracity. The most important of these sources is Sabrina Harman, an aspiring forensic 28 THE TEXAS OBSERVER OCTOBER 17, 2008