"Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin," thought Alice; "but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!"
"“ Lewis Carroll, "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"

"How can you say she's a good person?" I am sitting in an editing-room in Cambridge, Mass. arguing with one of my editors. I reply, "Well, exactly what is it that she did that is bad?" We are arguing about Sabrina Harman, one of the notorious "seven bad apples" convicted of abuse in the notorious Abu Ghraib scandal. My editor becomes increasingly irritable. (I have that effect on people.) He looks at me as you would a child. "What did she do that is bad? Are you joking?" And then he brings up the trump card, the photograph with the smile. "How do you get past that? The smile? Just look at it. Come on."


The question kept coming up. How do you explain the smile? What does it mean? Not only is she smiling, she is smiling with her thumbs-up "“ over a dead body. The photograph suggests that she may have killed the guy, and she looks proud of it. She looks happy.

I should back up a moment.

This is one of the central images in a rogue's gallery of snapshots, a photograph taken at Abu Ghraib prison in the fall of 2003. It is a photograph taken by Chuck Graner of Sabrina Harman "“ posed and looking into the lens of the camera.


In my filmed interview for my documentary "Standard Operating Procedure" Sabrina explains her thumbs-up and her smile:[1]

SABRINA HARMAN: I kind of picked up the thumbs-up from the kids in Al Hilla, and so whenever I would get into a photo, I never know what to do with my hands"¦ So any kind of photo, I probably have a thumbs-up because it's just "” I just picked it up from the kids. It's just something that automatically happens. Like when you get into a photo, you want to smile. It's just, I guess, something I did.


And indeed I have 20 or so photos of Harman "“ from Abu Ghraib and from al Hilla, where she had been stationed before Abu Ghraib "“ in which she is smiling with her thumb up.[2] I felt that showing 10 or 20 thumbs-up photographs didn't really explain that one photograph. It's fine to say that all ducks quack, but why is this duck quacking in that one instance? I needed to know: Why is she smiling with her thumb up in that photograph? Somehow her explanation, "It's just something I did," wasn't satisfactory. It bothered me.


Here is another excerpt with another quote about the thumb:

ERROL MORRIS: Why did you take these pictures "“ Graner of you and you of Graner?

SABRINA HARMAN: It was just to say, "Hey, look, it's a dead guy. We're with a dead guy." It wasn't anything "” I guess we weren't really thinking, "Hey, this guy has family," or anything like that, or "Hey, this guy was just murdered." It was just, "Hey, it's a dead guy, it'd be cool to get a photo next to a dead person." I mean that was it. That was the extent of that one"¦ I know it looks bad. I mean, even when I look at [the photographs], I go, "Oh Jesus, that does look pretty bad." [But] if a soldier sees somebody dead, normally they'll take photos of it. I don't know why, maybe it's a curiosity thing or if they see something odd, they'll take a photo of it. Just to say "Hey, look where I've been, look what I've seen."

ERROL MORRIS: Maybe you can't believe it yourself?

SABRINA HARMAN: I can't believe they murdered the guy.

Wait just one second. Murdered?

And who are they?

What does the photograph really show? What are we looking at? A smile? A murder? And if it is a murder, who is the killer?

I would like to answer these questions.


The story behind the photograph starts on Oct. 27, 2003, a little over a week before it was taken. On that day, two Iraqi employees of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) were killed in a bomb explosion outside the organization's office in Baghdad.[3] Very early in the morning on Nov. 4, 2003, a group of Navy Seals (an acronym for Sea-Air-Land units) apprehended Manadel al-Jamadi, who was suspected of having provided explosives for the Oct. 27 bombing.

He wasn't taken to Abu Ghraib immediately. First, he was brought to Camp Pozzi, an interrogation center adjacent to the Baghdad International Airport. Camp Pozzi was operated by the Seals but was also used by the C.I.A. Several hours later he was moved to Abu Ghraib "“ for some prisoners, an intermediate stop before rendition to Jordan.[4]

He was placed first in a holding cell on Tier 4B, interrogated, and then taken to the shower room on Tier 1B, adjacent to Tier 1A, the soon-to-be notorious hard site, where many of the prisoner-abuse photographs were taken. Certain details about what happened early that morning are well known from various investigations and reports. Here are two of them: (1) al-Jamadi walked into the shower room under his own power, and (2) one hour later al-Jamadi was dead.

What happened to him?

We know what happened initially from the accounts of three M.P.'s: Mark Nagy, Jason Kenner, and Walter (Tony) Diaz. Al-Jamadi was put in a stress position, a "Palestinian hanging" "” a low-budget crucifixion without the nails. His arms were handcuffed behind him and then the handcuffs were suspended from a window frame. [5,6,7] (As a prisoner becomes weaker and weaker, greater and greater pressure is put on the arms, potentially pulling them out of the sockets.) He is left alone in the room with a C.I.A. interrogator, Mark Swanner, and a C.I.A. translator, identified in various reports as Clint C. [8]

Some background. Abu Ghraib was in the middle of the Sunni triangle, a battleground for the insurgency. Mortars were lobbed into the prison compound on a daily basis. After two soldiers were killed in September 2003 by a mortar attack, most soldiers avoided taking showers in the outdoor facilities. It was just too dangerous. Prisoners in the tent compounds ringed with razor wire were not so fortunate. They had nowhere to go. Abu Ghraib was also a battleground in a military turf war "“ M.P.'s commanded by Lt. Col. Jerry Phillabaum, M.I.'s (military intelligence) commanded by Col. Thomas Pappas plus the various independent (non-military) contractors: CACI [9] interrogators, Titan [10] interpreters and an assortment of other groups: F.B.I., C.I.D., C.I.A., D.I.A., and Task Force 121. A blizzard of acronyms. There were rules for M.P.'s, rules for M.I., rules for O.G.A., but most significantly, this rule: Stay out of other people's way, particularly O.G.A.

And some relevant nomenclature. The C.I.A. and various associated groups are referred to in the military as O.G.A. "“ Other Government Agencies. Curiously, "O.G.A." also refers to prisoners not "logged" into the system, prisoners without identification numbers. The fact that they are not logged into the system rendered them officially "not there," even though they were. Another term captures their status of "being there" and "not being there." They are called "ghosts" "“ ghost detainees and ghost interrogators. Many soldiers refer to Swanner's interrogation of al-Jamadi as "an O.G.A. interrogating an O.G.A." "“ preserving the sinister double anonymity of the scene in the shower room.

Sgt. Hydrue Joyner, the NCOIC [non-commissioned officer in charge] on the day shift sums up:

HYDRUE JOYNER: When I first got there [to Abu Ghraib] and they first told me about O.G.A., I'm like, "Wait a minute, you don't add these people to the actual count? Like if I have 50 detainees, but I have these five O.G.A.'s, I don't really have 55 detainees, I only have 50?" They say, "Yes." I said, "Well, what about the five souls that are in those cells?" "They're not there." "Well yes they are, because I can see them." "Yeah, you can see them, but they're not there." "All right man, hey, whatever works for you, whatever makes you sleep at night, O.K." And that's how we ran it because that's what we were told.


Back in the shower room. Approximately one hour had gone by. Mark Swanner, the C.I.A. interrogator, called for assistance. [11] Al-Jamadi was "sagging" and Swanner wanted him tied "a little higher." Three M.P.'s on the tier "” Sgt. Dennis Stevanus, Sgt. Walter (Tony) Diaz and Specialist Jeff Frost "” were called in to help out.

It was about 7 a.m.[12]

Al-Jamadi was unresponsive. The hood was removed. Almost immediately, blood started streaming from his nose. He was dead.

Diaz, the ranking sergeant, describes the tension in the room.

WALTER DIAZ: The O.G.A. "” We just look at each other and we were like "” It was kind of like a silence for a while. We were like, you know, what happened here? And I look at him and I told him, "Hey listen, this is on you guys. I don't know what you guys did to him, but you know, this guy is dead."

Stevanus provides some additional information about the O.G.A.'s demeanor: "After we found out he was dead, they were nervous; they didn't know what the hell to do. The short, fat O.G.A. guy said, "No one's ever died on me before when I interrogated them." [13]

Swanner [14] called on his cell phone for assistance and several other C.I.A. officers arrived.[15] It's presumably not O.K. to kill prisoners. Several additional M.P.'s arrived, including Capt. Christopher Brinson. Capt. Donald Reese and Lt. Col. Steve Jordan. Jordan soon notified Colonel Pappas, the commander of the prison. [16]

The top brass at the prison "” essentially everyone who was anyone "” were present and involved in a heated discussion of what to do next.[17] According to Jordan, Pappas made it clear that he wasn't going to take the fall for what amounted to the death of an O.G.A. prisoner. [18,19]

Hydrue Joyner described [20] the scene as a version of the movie "Weekend at Bernie's," where two sad-sack employees pretend that their murdered boss is still alive so that they can avoid being implicated in his death. Indeed, when al-Jamadi was finally entered into the prison log book on November 5, 2003 (since he was a "ghost" detainee without an identification number), he was simply identified as "Bernie." A good joke.


The body started to smell. By mid-afternoon, a decision was made to pack him in a body bag, ice him down and lock him in the shower room over night while the various M.I. and O.G.A. officers decided what to do next. [21] One thing is absolutely clear. No one wanted to be implicated in al-Jamadi's death. He became the proverbial "hot potato," passed quickly from one person to another, until he could be finally disposed of. Many soldiers were involved, but the finger pointing started at Abu Ghraib and has gone on ever since.

There were two keys to the shower room. One was held by Brinson, the second one was left in the 1B office tended by Specialist Megan Ambuhl and Sgt. Ivan ("Freddie") Frederick. Specialist Sabrina Harman and Cpl. Chuck Graner got the second key from Frederick, let themselves into the 1B shower room and took the two thumbs-up photographs with the corpse.

Harman took the picture of Graner smiling with thumbs up and Graner took the picture of Harman smiling with thumbs up. They left, locked the door, and then Sabrina returned with Frederick later that evening (Nov. 4) and took additional photographs of the corpse, some 14 or 15 of them. These, unlike the thumbs-up photographs taken earlier that evening, are relatively unknown "” even though they provide unmistakable evidence of the gruesome treatment al-Jamadi received: broken teeth, a mangled lip, contusions, bruises, the cartilage of his nose crushed, a gash under his right eye.

Here is Harman's account of the aftermath of the death.

SABRINA HARMAN: When we got to the prison, Captain Brinson had a meeting in the main office with all of us. [22] He said there was a prisoner who had died in the shower, and he died of a heart attack. And he told us that he was on ice, and he was in the shower in tier 1B. That was pretty much it for that. And then we went upstairs. Sergeant Frederick got the key and we just checked him out and took photos of him. Kind of realized right away that there was no way he died of a heart attack because of all the cuts and blood coming out of his nose.

I asked Sabrina whether she thought from the beginning that it was a homicide.

SABRINA HARMAN: It took a while. Like, you started undoing the bandages and looking closely. Like, you see his knees were bruised; his thighs were bruised [around] his genitals. He had restraint marks on his wrists. What else? You had to look close. They did a really good job cleaning him up. I mean, he had ice all over his body, so unless you removed things, you couldn't really see the actual physical damage that they had done.

And then:

SABRINA HARMAN: You don't think your commander [Brinson] is going to lie to you about something, first of all. And then you realize wait, maybe he did lie because there's no way somebody would die of a heart attack and have all these injuries. It just didn't add up.


The following morning M.I. and O.G.A. were finally able to come to some agreement:[23] the corpse was wheeled out on a gurney with an I.V. in its arm. Ostensibly, the reason for the subterfuge was to prevent a riot "” to fool the prisoners into thinking that this was a medical emergency rather than a murder. But clearly, the deception was not just for the prisoners. Soldiers were lied to as well. [24]

An autopsy was done several days later; a full report didn't appear for several months. It was only after the Abu Ghraib photographs were leaked to C.I.D. (the Criminal Investigation Division of the Army) that C.I.D., C.I.A., O.I.G. (Office of Inspector General) and the NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigative Service) started a joint investigation. Eventually the death of al-Jamadi was also taken up by the various military and civil commissions set up to investigate the abuses at Abu Ghraib.

It is clear that there was a death and an attempted cover-up. But what is not clear is what happened that morning in the 1B shower room. The investigations do not provide answers. Who is responsible for his death? Did the C.I.A., C.I.D. and M.I. intend not only to cover the fact of it but also to obscure who was responsible?

So many different groups were involved "“ the Navy Seals who brought him to Abu Ghraib, the C.I.A. operatives who questioned him there, the M.P.'s who assisted the O.G.A. interrogators and translator "” the lone interrogator who was in the cell with him at the end, and the M.I. guys who arrived immediately following his death.

Daniel Ellsberg, of Pentagon Papers fame, told me about a meeting he had with Robert Kennedy in the mid-1960s. It concerned Vietnam, and the $64,000 question: What would John F. Kennedy have done in Vietnam had he lived? R.F.K.'s answer was: J.F.K. would have gotten us out of Vietnam. He would have waited until after the '64 elections, and then "fuzzed it up." [25]

Fuzzing it up is a common practice in government. You hide intention and responsibility. You have one person say one thing, and another person the exact opposite. You create a blizzard of paper, so much paper that actual evidence is lost in the glut. And of course, you deny anything and everything you can deny "” particularly the obvious. (Denying the obvious is always popular.) You produce noise, distraction and confusion. People rarely think of this as a well-established bureaucratic technique, but it is a tried and true methodology.

With "detention operations" and abuse, there was not one investigation, but multiple investigations blending one in to the other, all assigned a little piece of the puzzle. There were investigations by Congress, by the military and by the Department of Defense. It is the story of the blind men and the elephant. Each is given a piece of an elephant to examine, and then asked to infer the nature of the beast. Not surprisingly, they can't piece together a conception of the whole from the individual parts. Maj.Gen. Antonio M. Taguba [26] was asked to examine the M.P.'s but go no further. (It was an Article 15-6 investigation into the conduct of the 800th M.P. brigade. He did go further and was eventually censured by the military for having done so.) Maj. Gen. George R. Fay and Lt. Gen. Anthony R. Jones examined M.I. operations.[27] Lt. Gen. Randall Schmidt and Brig. Gen. John T. Furlow "” detainment operations at Guantanomo. The Schlesinger Report "” Department of Defense detainment operations at Abu Ghraib. The Green Report "” possible wrongdoing by the upper-level command in Bagdad. And so on and so forth. Thirteen government reports in all. [28]

The investigations accomplish what R.F.K. talked about with Ellsberg. They fuzz it up. Fuzz it up to the point where no one can even ask the relevant questions, let alone expect relevant answers.

There are discussions and arguments about what really caused al-Jamadi's death: the injuries caused by the Seals when they arrested him, the brutality of the interrogations in Baghdad and the subsequent interrogations at Abu Ghraib. Let's try to simplify all of this: What was his physical condition when he was escorted to the shower room in 1B? This is answered in a statement given by Specialist Jason Kenner, who escorted him to the shower room on 1B. [29]

"I did not see any injuries on the prisoner," Kenner said.

On NOV 03, I was assigned as the runner of tier 1B of the "hard site" at Abu Ghraib Prison"¦ At approximately 0430-0500 hrs, a person from OGA came to the office located near the intake point of tier 4B and advised me that they had a prisoner"¦ The prisoner did not appear to be in distress. He was walking fine and his speech was normal. SSG NAGY AND SGT DIAZ were in and out of the area when the prisoner was brought in. Within minutes of placing the prisoner in the holding cell, the translator and interrogator began to yell at him. They were yelling at the prisoner to find where some weapons were. The prisoner was responding to the yelled questions in Arabic but I could not understand what he was saying"¦ I could see the prisoner in the corner of the cell in a seated position like a scared child with the translator and interrogator leaning over him yelling at him"¦ The OGA personnel then advised SSG NAGY and myself to "take the prisoner to tier one." Upon this request we placed the prisoner in an orange jumpsuit, handcuffed his hands behind his back and shackled his feet. We used steel handcuffs and shackles to secure the prisoner. At this time I did not see any injuries on the prisoner.

Kenner's statement is also a curious blend of the personal and anonymous. But it comes alive at several moments. One of them sticks with me: "I could see the prisoner in the corner of the cell "¦ like a scared child."


We know much more about what happened after al-Jamadi's death "“ the arrival of Captain Brinson, the decisions to pack the body with ice and to remove the body with an I.V. in its arm "” even though there are no photographs of any of this. [30]

But that evening, the photographs started, and we know "” almost second by second "” what happened. We know because of the photo time-lines created by C.I.D. expert Brent Pack. (Details from the timeline are provided below. The order of the photographs may not explain the smile but they help us to understand the photographs themselves and what happened that night.)

Sixteen hours after the M.P.'s first become aware of al-Jamadi's death, Charles Graner and Sabrina Harman go into the shower-room. They are there for six minutes, between 11:32 p.m. and 11:38 p.m. Graner takes the photograph with Sabrina posing at 11:35 p.m. (Baghdad Time) with her thumb up. Sabrina takes the photograph of Graner at 11:38, about three minutes later. Did Graner ask Harman to pose for the thumbs-up photograph, and then ask her to take a photograph of him, posing in the same way? Did they reflexively take turns photographing each other as they had in many other situations? Surely, photography must have provided relief from the tedium as well as the horror.


Harman returns with Frederick (her commanding officer) from 1:18 a.m. to 1:24 a.m "” 100 minutes later. She takes additional detailed forensic photographs. All of these photographs are in stark contrast to the thumbs-up-and-smile photographs taken when she first went into the shower room. In the final photograph, taken at 1:23, she removes the bandage from al-Jamadi's eye, so she can photograph the gash underneath. The timeline of the photographs is compatible with my view of Harman's intentions. These are not photographs taken out of boredom. She is there to photograph the evidence. This is no heart attack victim.


It is an odd and eventful night.[31] It is a night of photographs that includes the prisoner known as the Hooded Man; photographs of the prisoner (Haj-Ali or "Clawman") who later claimed that he was the Hooded Man;[32] and photographs of the corpse of al-Jamadi. Significantly, the Hooded Man is brought in by a C.I.D. officer who tells Frederick, "Do anything you need to do short of killing him." [33] The comment becomes even more interesting because it is made on the same day that al-Jamadi died.

hooded man

There will always be questions about why any of these photographs were taken. Were they simply yet one more way to humiliate and dehumanize the prisoners? Were they soldiers' trophies from the war in Iraq? An attempt to collect evidence against the military?

I asked Harman specifically about the pictures she took of al-Jamadi's body.

SABRINA HARMAN: It was to prove to anybody who looked at this guy, "Hey, I was just lied to. This guy did not die of a heart attack. Look at all these other existing injuries that they tried to cover up." [34]


Of course, the injuries themselves are not proof that Swanner killed him. Perhaps it was Swanner and Clint C., the translator. Perhaps the Navy Seals broke his ribs and those injuries were exacerbated by and in turn aggravated the effects of the Palestinian hanging. And then how do you parcel out the blame? Seals, C.I.A., M.P.'s? Couldn't it have been a combination of all three? The cumulative result of all the injuries? And therefore no one is responsible? Could it be that al-Jamadi was just unlucky? The injuries were such that no one injury caused his death; it was an unlucky combination of all of them. Well, that's argued in one investigation after another, but there is a needle hidden in one of these haystacks of paper. It is titled "Memorandum for the Record," written by Clifford Nivling, Office of Inspector General Special Investigator. He quotes Cmdr. Joe Hodge, the Deputy Chief Medical Examiner for the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP). Hodge had written a report in January 2004 on al-Jamadi's death in which he states, "the manner of death is homicide." [35] Here he elaborates to an investigator on his original analysis:

Specifically, Dr. Hodge was asked whether the injuries al-Jamaidi sustained, i.e. broken ribs, contusion to the lung, etc., would have eventually resulted in his death, absent undergoing interrogation(s). Hodge replied that the position al-Jamaidi was placed for interrogation at Abu Ghraib prison, together with the hood placed over his head, was "part and parcel of the homicide." He explained that the pulmonary injuries al-Jamadi sustained were "not enough" to cause his death"¦ Dr. Hodge said he recently reviewed the case with his colleagues at AFIP and they agreed that the pulmonary injuries al-Jamaidi received most likely did not result from the multiple punches reportedly received while being subdued by U.S. Navy SEAL Team 7 (ST-7) personnel"¦ He said that punching would have resulted in external contusions to the body, which was not evident. Dr. Hodge said al-Jamaidi's internal injuries were more consistent with the "slow deliberate application of force," such as would have resulted from someone kneeling on his chest, or holding al-Jamaidi down by placing the heels of someone's boots on his chest"¦

(The memorandum is dated June 18, 2004; the alternate spelling "al-Jamaidi" is from the document.)

If the Navy Seals didn't kill al-Jamadi nor cause the injuries that resulted in his death, and if, according to Jason Kenner, al-Jamadi ""¦did not appear to be in distress," how did he die? And one additional question: Is it just a homicide or a murder?

The term "homicide" does not tell us about the nature of the crime. It only tells us that one man killed another. It doesn't tell us whether it is involuntary manslaughter or murder. However, there is ample reason to call the death of al-Jamadi a murder. A Palestinian hanging is torture. It is illegal. It is a felony. Beating a prisoner is illegal. It is also a felony. Ultimately, intent is not an issue. Under felony-murder statutes, a homicide that occurs during the commission of a felony is a murder, pure and simple.


Al-Jamadi had already been dead for at least 12 hours before Harman got the key from Frederick, the NCOIC of the tier that evening. She went into the shower room with Graner and posed for the thumbs-up picture. The photographs were taken with two different cameras. She left and returned with Frederick and then took additional forensic photographs. She was there to provide evidence of what happened to al-Jamadi.

This letter was written by Harman to Kelly, her partner, on Nov. 9, a couple of days after al-Jamadi's corpse was wheeled out of Abu Ghraib with an I.V. in its arm and an oxygen mask slapped on its face.


"¦I'm not sure how to feel. I have a lot of anxiety. I think something is going to happen either with me not making it or you doing something wrong. I think too much. I hope I'm wrong, but if not, know that I love you and you are and always will be my wife. I hate being so scared. I hate anxiety. I hate the unknown. We might be under investigation. I'm not sure, there's talk about it. Yes, they do beat the prisoners up and I've written this to you before. I just don't think it's right and never have. That's why I take the pictures "“ to prove the story I tell people. No one would ever believe the shit that goes on. No one. The dead guy didn't bother me, even took a picture with him doing the thumbs-up. But that's when I realized it wasn't funny anymore, that this guy had blood in his nose. I didn't even have to check his ears and I already knew it was not a heart attack they claimed he died of. He bled to death from some cause of trauma to his head. I was told when they took him out they put an IV in him and put him on a stretcher like he was alive to fool the people around "“ they said the autopsy came back "heart attack." It's a lie. The whole military is nothing but lies"¦

Sabrina wasn't involved with al-Jamadi's death, and she wasn't part of the cover up. Nevertheless, she was accused of several crimes.

SABRINA HARMAN: They tried to charge me with the destruction of government property "” which I don't understand. And then maltreatment, of taking the photos of a dead guy. But he's dead, so I don't know how that's maltreatment. And then altering evidence for removing the bandage from his eye to take a photo of it, and then I placed it back. In my Article 32 [court-martial], Captain Reese came out and said when he died, they cleaned him all up and then stuck the bandages on. So he was already dead when they stuck the bandages on. So it's not really altering evidence, they had already done that for me, so they had to drop that charge. So in order to make the other charges stick, they would have to bring in the photos, [and] they didn't want to bring up the dead guy at all, the O.G.A., because obviously they covered up a murder and that would just make them look bad, so they dropped all the charges pertaining to the O.G.A. in the shower. [36]

ERROL MORRIS: They charged you with tampering with evidence after they tampered with evidence?

SABRINA HARMAN: Altering evidence, yes"¦ Well, my first lawyer wanted me to plead guilty to all these, and there was no way I was going to plead guilty to any of these charges, especially that one out of all of them, especially that one, so"¦ When he died, they cleaned him all up, got the blood away and made him look all nice. And then they put the bandages in place where they were in the photos, in the first one. And then they tried to charge me with removing the bandage, taking the photo and putting it back. And they charged me with altering evidence"¦

ERROL MORRIS: You were tampering with the already tampered evidence?


I asked Harman about the officers who were involved.

SABRINA HARMAN: All I know is that Captain Brinson was involved and [Lieutenant] Colonel Jordan was involved. And Captain Reese was there"¦ And then I heard from other people, the guards, how [the body] was taken out, which was with an I.V. on a stretcher.


SABRINA HARMAN: They physically put an I.V. in his arm and took him out on a stretcher.

ERROL MORRIS: Why would they do that?

SABRINA HARMAN: They were trying to fool the prisoners around him, thinking he was just sick.

ERROL MORRIS: Trying to fool everybody, I guess.

SABRINA HARMAN: Well, we all knew he was dead, but not how he died. That didn't come out until later. "¦They would have done a good job covering it up if the photos weren't there.

Is Sabrina Harman a good person or a bad person? You tell me. She was part of the nightmare of abuse at Abu Ghraib, but her own act of defiance "” her act of civil disobedience "” was to take these photographs, to provide proof of what others were trying to deny.

But her smile still made me feel uneasy. And it was because of my continuing uneasiness with the smile that I contacted Paul Ekman, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of California, San Francisco. Ekman is an expert on facial expressions and has written many books, including "Emotions Revealed, Unmasking the Face" and "Telling Lies." I asked him to help explain Harman's smile.

(Oliver Sacks has written, "No one in the world has studied facial expressions as deeply as Paul Ekman. In 'Emotions Revealed' he presents "” clearly, vividly, and in the most accessible way "” his fascinating observations about the covert expressions of emotions we all encounter hundreds of times daily, but so often misunderstand or fail to see. There has not been a book of such range and insight since Darwin's famous 'Expression of the Emotions' more than a century ago." His work is also prominently featured in Malcolm Gladwell's "Blink.")

I sent him a CD with over 20 pictures of Harman, including the thumbs-up picture with al-Jamadi's corpse. It is labeled picture No. 2728.


PAUL EKMAN: In picture 2728 she is showing a social smile or a smile for the camera. The signs of an actual enjoyment smile are just not there. There's no sign of any negative emotion. She's doing what people always do when they pose for a camera. They put on a big, broad smile, but they're not actually genuinely enjoying themselves. We would see movement in the eye cover fold. That's the area of the skin below the eyebrow before the eyelid. And it moves slightly down only with genuine enjoyment. "¦ In one of her pictures I get a chance to see her with no emotion on her face. That's picture 4034. So I can see what the eye cover fold looks like when she's not smiling. And it's just the same as with the smile. That's the crucial difference between what I call a Duchenne smile, the true smile of enjoyment, named after the French neurologist who first made this discovery in 1862, and the forced smile, the social smile.

(In "Emotions Revealed" Ekman quotes Duchenne: "The emotion of frank joy is expressed on the face by the combined contraction of the zygomaticus major muscle and the orbicularis oculi. The first obeys the will but the second is only put in play by the sweet emotions of the soul"¦ The muscle around the eye does not obey the will; it is only brought into play by a true feeling, an agreeable emotion. Its inertia in smiling, unmasks a false friend.")

ERROL MORRIS: So 4034 is the comparison picture?


PAUL EKMAN: Yes. That's the picture I used for comparison. She's getting something out of a box, and has a black beanie on her head. O.K.? If you go back to the first picture, 2728, and you look at the eye cover fold on that one, if it was an enjoyment smile, the amount of skin between the upper eyelid and the brow would be considerably reduced. We've got a lot of data on that and some published articles. It's the clue. It's a fairly subtle clue that most people don't attend to. But it's the only reliable clue that the muscle called the orbicularis oculi pars lateralis isn't activated. It's an involuntary muscle. It only gets activated in nearly all people when there's genuine enjoyment.

ERROL MORRIS: And you don't see that in Sabrina's smile?

PAUL EKMAN: No. It's just what people put on their face when someone's going to take a photograph of them, a big, broad smile. The crucial thing is, there's no sign that she's really feeling genuine enjoyment while this picture's being taken. Nor is there any sign that she feels any other emotion, no sign of sadness, no fear, no disgust, and no contempt. It's just a "say cheese" smile.

ERROL MORRIS: It makes me think the "say cheese" smile was "invented" just for photography.

PAUL EKMAN: Oh, no, no. People do this all the time. This is a very broad smile. It's the zygomaticus major. That's the muscle that pulls the lip corners up obliquely. And she's contracted it to its maximum. In the typical polite smile, the smile you give a host for a dinner party, when you're going home and telling them you really enjoyed yourself, but you didn't, you would employ the same zygomaticus muscle, but it wouldn't be contracted as much. It would be inappropriate to give this broad a smile for most polite-smile situations. This broad smile only occurs with genuine enjoyment or when you're posing for a camera. Unless you're Philip Roth "” all of the photos for his recent book show him with a totally serious, non-smiling face.

ERROL MORRIS: Just once again so I can be sure I understand. You can distinguish the "say cheese" smile from genuine smiling, the smile of enjoyment.

PAUL EKMAN: Absolutely. It's the absence of the orbicularis oculi par lateralis. That muscle orbits the eye completely. It pulls up the cheek and it produces crow's feet wrinkles. However, when you get a big broad smile, like she's doing, that pushes the cheeks up anyhow. And it will produce crow's feet wrinkles just on its own. So the only reliable clue as to whether orbicularis oculi par lateralis has acted is to look above the eye. No muscle can lower that skin other than the orbicularis oculi. The smiling-muscle, zygomaticus, can't affect it. So you can put on as big a smile as you want, and the cover fold skin will not come down.


In "Emotions Revealed," Ekman provides a graphic photo-illustration of the difference between the Duchenne smile, the real smile and the social smile. "At first glance it might seem that the only difference between these photos is that the eyes are narrower in photo B, but if you compare A and B carefully you will see a number of differences. In B, which shows real enjoyment with a Duchenne smile, the cheeks are higher, the contour of the cheeks has changed, and the eyebrows have moved down slightly. These are all due to the action of the outer part of the muscle that orbits the eye."

Ekman1(Copyright Paul Ekman 2003, "Emotions Revealed," Owl Books, 2007.)

When the smile is much broader, there is only one clue that distinguishes between enjoyment and non-enjoyment smiles. A broad smile, such as in photo C pushes up the cheeks, gathers the skin under the eye, narrows the eye aperture and even produces crow's-feet wrinkles. All of this without any involvement of the muscle that orbits the eye.

Ekman2(Copyright Paul Ekman 2003, "Emotions Revealed," Owl Books, 2007.)

Comparison photo D shows the eyebrow and eye cover-fold (the skin between the eyelid and the eyebrow) have been pulled down by the muscle orbiting the eye. Photo D is a broad enjoyment smile, while C is a very broad non-enjoyment smile. Photo C, incidentally, is a composite photograph made by pasting D from the lower eyelids down on to the neutral photograph E.

Eckman3(Copyright Paul Ekman 2003, "Emotions Revealed," Owl Books, 2007.)

Photo F is another composite photograph, in which the smiling lips from picture D have been pasted on to the neutral photograph E. Human beings can not produce the expression shown in photo F. It should look strange to you, and the reason it looks so strange is because when the smile is this broad it produces all the changes in the cheeks and eyes that you see in D." I made this composite illustration to underline the fact that very broad smiles change not only the lips but also the cheeks and the skin below the eyes.


ERROL MORRIS: I should tell you why I'm asking all of these questions.

PAUL EKMAN: Yes, I'm curious.

ERROL MORRIS: I've just finished this movie on the Abu Ghraib photographs. And I believe that many of the photographs have been misunderstood "“ for many reasons and in many different ways. The picture of Sabrina Harman smiling with her thumb up above the body of an Iraqi prisoner "” we know his name, Manadel al-Jamadi. People saw this picture and were horrified. They took her smile as a smile of enjoyment, a smile of pleasure.

PAUL EKMAN: So what's the explanation of why she has the smile and the thumbs up?

ERROL MORRIS: Her explanation is that she did it all the time. People took her picture and she would have the same goofy smile and the same thumbs-up, again and again and again and again and again.

PAUL EKMAN: Well, there are a lot of them.

ERROL MORRIS: I often think about Sabrina being a woman, a gay woman in the military, trying to show that she is in command, a master of her emotions "“ not cowed by her experiences but in control. Of course, when people see that photograph, they do not see Sabrina. They see the smile.

PAUL EKMAN: Well, here's what I think happens when the typical viewer looks at this picture. One, you're horrified by the sight of this dead person. Most of us haven't seen a dead person. Certainly not in that state. If you've seen a dead person, you've seen them in an open casket where they're made to look like they're alive. Do you know how "horror" is defined?


PAUL EKMAN: "Horror," according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is the combination of disgust and terror. So I think "horror" is the right word. It's a horrible sight, and it instills horror. And then you see, right next to that, someone having a good time. Most people will not realize that's a "say cheese" smile. They'll think, because of the broadness of the smile and the thumbs-up gesture, they're having a good time. That's what makes this a damning picture to the typical viewer.

I'll add one more thing. When we see someone smile, it is almost irresistible that we smile back at them. Advertisers know that. That's why they link products to smiling faces. And when we smile back, we begin to actually experience some enjoyment. So this photograph makes us complicit in enjoying the horrible. And that's revolting to us.

So why it is such an upsetting photograph is not just because we see someone smiling in the context of the horrible, but that when we look at her, we begin to have to resist smiling ourselves. So it's a terrible, terrible picture for that reason alone.


Here is Ekman's mechanism: Harman is smiling. We see her smile and can't help smiling ourselves. Smile and the whole world smiles with you. Smiling is contagious. But when we see the dead man, we recoil in horror. Our "almost irresistible" need to smile makes us feel complicit in the man's death. We "transfer" those feelings to Harman. We think her smile makes her complicit.

Ekman also emphasizes that Sabrina's smile does not reflect her underlying emotions. That we can infer little or nothing from it. In her letter of Nov. 9 Sabrina herself tells us she was faking a smile. This is a continuation of the letter (quoted above) written only a couple of days after al-Jamadi's death.

"¦if I want to keep taking pictures of those events "“ I even have short films "“ I have to fake a smile every time. I hope I don't get in trouble for something I haven't done. I hate this. I hate being away from home and I hate half the people I'm surrounded by. They're idiots. I can't be here. I don't want to be a part of the Army, because it makes me one of them. I don't like it here. I don't like what we do.

Ironically, when the army was looking for a scapegoat for its crimes, it was precisely this "false image" that they chose to exploit to their advantage. In a sense, Harman was deliberately falsifying the evidence of her own photographs to seem more at home than she was. Then the military turned her strategy on its head, saying that her "exceptional" depravity was deplorable, and something that they needed to weed out and punish. And thus Sabrina Harman's photographs became part of the evidence used against her in military court.


I hung up the phone, but something was still bothering me, so I called Ekman back five minutes later.

ERROL MORRIS: One other question occurred to me. Take these two smiles, the "say cheese" smile and the smile of genuine pleasure. Wouldn't natural selection have built into our perceptual apparatus the ability to quickly discriminate between the two?

PAUL EKMAN: Well, it apparently hasn't. One has to try reasoning backwards, "There must not have been any advantage to being able to tell the difference between the two." The most important thing in terms of adaptation is for you to know that the other person is either actually or simulating enjoyment. And that was more important than whether they really were enjoying themselves. The fossil record doesn't tell us much about social life. All one can do is to say there is no really good facial signal that evolved. Now when people laugh in a phony way, that's a little easier to pick up. But even then, most of us want to hear good news. We don't want to hear bad news. So we're tuned to it. We're very attracted to smiles. They're very salient. But telling the feigned from the genuine, we're not good at that for any emotion, for anger, fear. It takes quite a lot to train a professional, a National Security or law enforcement professional (we do quite a bit of that) to be able to distinguish between the two. There are no clear-cut obvious signs. So what must have been important was to know what a person was intending, not what they were feeling.

ERROL MORRIS: Do you think some people are better than others at discriminating?

PAUL EKMAN: We know that there are, but they are less than one percent. And we've tested over 10,000 people from every walk of life, from C.I.A. to arbitrators to judges to social workers, psychiatrists. About a half of one percent pick this stuff up without being specially trained.

ERROL MORRIS: I guess a smile is so powerful, that in that picture it becomes the dominant element.

PAUL EKMAN: That's right. That's why this picture is so revolting, not because we think she is having a good time, because we get hooked into it. We want to smile back.


There are many photographs of al-Jamadi's body, but it is the photograph of Harman with his body that stands out among them, the photograph of a pretty American girl who is alive and a battered Iraqi man who is dead. The photograph misdirects us. We become angry at Harman, rather than angry at the killer.

We see al-Jamadi's body, but we don't see the act that turned him from a human being into a corpse. We don't understand what the photograph means, nor what it is about.

Instead of asking: Who is that man? Who killed him? The question becomes, Why is this woman smiling? It becomes the important thing "” if not the only thing. The viewer assumes that Harman is in some way responsible "” or if not responsible, in some way connected to the murder "” and is gloating over the body. How dare she? Isn't she in the same photograph as the body? Looming over the corpse? And even if she is not guilty, she stands in (in the viewer's imagination) for those who are.

And so we are left with a simple conundrum. Photographs reveal and they conceal. We know about al-Jamadi's death because of Sabrina Harman. Without her photographs, his death would likely have been covered up by the C.I.A. and by the military. Yes, at first I believed that Harman was complicit. I believed that she was implicated in al-Jamadi's death. I was wrong. I, too, was fooled by the smile.

Abu Ghraib is all about the blame game. M.P.'s blaming M.I. M.I. blaming the civilian contractors. And everyone blaming the "bad apples." Harman didn't murder al-Jamadi. She provides evidence of a crime, evidence that this was no heart attack victim. She took photographs to show that "the military is nothing but lies." At the very least, to show that she had been lied to by her commanding officer. It is now our job to make sure that her photographs are used to prosecute the people truly responsible for al-Jamadi's death.

When Alice parts company with the Cheshire cat, she is unsure what to do next. "Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?" The cat is still smiling, an enigmatic smile. And its last remarks provide a warning for us as well.

"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
"I don't much care where"“" said Alice.
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.
""“so long as I get SOMEWHERE," Alice added as an explanation.
"Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."

Chesire cat

Epilogue: Many people have asked me about whether Sabrina Harman has expressed remorse. She has expressed regret, not remorse "” regret about the thumbs up and the smile. In "Standard Operating Procedure," she says, "I know it looks bad." But she has said more: "No soldier thinks when they're taking a picture with someone who has died, this is going to be shown to their family or in the press. If they did think that, I'm sure that nobody would ever take a photograph like that. I regret it. I don't do it anymore. I'll tell you that. I keep my hands in my pockets when I get my photo taken."



[1] Sabrina Harman was paid for her time and for permission to reprint portions of her letters from Abu Ghraib. I interviewed her twice in Boston, Mass. The filmed interviews were on March 6, 2006 and Dec. 10, 2006. In addition, there have been numerous phone conversations with her and her lawyers.

[2] Some of these additional pictures are included in "Exposures," The New Yorker article adapted from my book with Philip Gourevitch: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/03/24/080324fa_ fact_gourevitch

[3] Bomb Explodes at ICRC Headquarters in Baghdad, story posted on ICRC Web site:
http://www.redcross.org/article/0,1072,0_332_1829,00.ht ml

[4] In some cases, OGA [Other Government Agencies] sent prisoners for further interrogation to "client-states," like Jordan. According to LTC Steve Jordan, "All they were doing was using the Abu Ghraib facility as a holding area. And sometimes they would bring them out there because they would use the linguistic support of the 205th MI brigade there at the JDIC [Joint Detention and Interrogation Center]. And then if they decided, 'Hey, we're not going to keep this person; we're going to render them out.' I was aware of at least three or four folks that they rendered out through Amman, Jordan. Now where they went to, I don't know, sir"¦ I asked somebody, and they said, "We've got a flight that goes to Amman, Jordan." And that flight was the OGA flight, the CIA flight. And that's how their people came in and out of country that I was aware of, was through facilities over in Amman."

[5] SPC Jason Kenner, Sworn Statement, March 18, 2004, CID, file # 0237-03-CID259-61219: "The interrogator told us that he did not want the prisoner to sit down and wanted him shackled to the wall. I got some leg irons and shackled the prisoner to the wall by attaching one end of the leg irons to the bars on the window and the other end to the prioner's handcuffs."

[6] Sgt. Walter A. Diaz, Interview Report, April 7, 2004, Office of Inspector General (OIG), Case 2003-7423-IG, Death of Manadal Al-Jamadi: "Diaz said the OGA personnel told them to handcuff al-Jamadi to the barred window. Diaz said they used two pairs of handcuffs and secured al-Jamadi in a standing position with his arms over and behind his head. Diaz says they removed the leg shackles before leaving the shower-room."

[7] Sgt. Mark M. Nagy, Interview Report, April 3, 2004, OIG, Case 2003-7423-IG, Death of Manadal Al-Jamadi: "Al-Jamadi might have been able to kneel from the position, but his arms would have been stretched up and behind him."

[8] Mr. Mark Swanner, CID Agent's Investigation Report, ROI # 0237-03-CID259-61219, Interview with Mr. Mark Swanner, Mr. Clint C. and "Steve": About 1510, 05 Nov 03, SA J.D. Stewart interviewed Mr. Mark Swanner who stated that he, Mr. Clint C. and Steve were part of a team along with SEAL Team 7 on a mission to apprehend Mr. Al-Jamadi at his residence"¦ At approximately 0530, Mr. Swanner, and Mr. Clint C. resumed the interrogation of Mr. Al-Jamadi. Some time around 0700, while answering a question, Mr. Al-Jamadi's head slumped over to the side. Mr. Swanner stated Mr. Al-Jamadi's chest was not moving, so he removed his hood to further observe his condition. At this point Mt. Clint C. summoned the Military Police to seek medically assistance for Mr. Al-Jamadi. At this point, both men left the interrogation cell.

[9] CACI is a civilian defense contractor. CACI supplied interrogators for Abu Ghraib. CACI is the actual name of the corporation. It is an acronym for a name that is no longer in use, "Consolidated Analysis Center, Incorporated."

[10] Titan is another civilian defense contractor. Titan supplied interpreters.

[11] In Jane Mayer's 2005 article in The New Yorker: "For most of the time that Jamadi was being interrogated at Abu Ghraib, there were only two people in the room with him. One was an Arabic-speaking translator for the C.I.A. working on a private contract, who has been identified in military-court papers only as 'Clint C.' He was given immunity against criminal prosecution in exchange for his cooperation. The other person was Mark Swanner." There were, however, two interrogations. One was on 4B, the subsequent one was in the 1B shower-room. That is where he died.

[12] SPC Jason Kenner, Sworn Statement, March 18, 2004, CID, file # 0237-03-CID259-61219: "At approximately 0430-0500 hrs, a person from OGA came to the office located near the intake point of tier 4B and advised me that they had a prisoner." Sgt. Walter A. Diaz, Interview Report, April 7, 2004, Office of Inspector General (OIG), Case 2003-7423-IG, Death of Manadal Al-Jamadi: "Diaz said he opened the door to let Al-Jamadi and the OGA personnel in around 5am, and he (Diaz) notified SSG Nagy that they had a new prisoner."

[13] Dennis E. Stevanus, Sworn Statement, March 24, 2004, CID, File #: 0024-04-CID389-80640: Q: Describe the demeanor of the OGA personnel before and after the interrogation? A: Before, they were normal as like every other day. They took their gear off and grab[bed] a cup of coffee. Then they just went into the room. Afterwards, before we found out he was dead; they were just normal like every other day when they are finished with interviews. After we found out he was dead, they were nervous; they didn't know what the hell to do. The short fat OGA guy said, "No one's ever died on me before when I interrogated them."

Q: Did the OGA personnel make any statement about what happened?

A: They said the guy just quit talking and slouched down. When I told them I was calling my NCOIC, the short OGA guy got on the phone and started calling somebody.

[14] Brinson Interview Report: "Brinson recalled an OGA interrogator and an interpreter were on-site when he arrived at the scene. He described the interrogator as shorter than the interpreter, and heavy set."

[15] The official reports are unclear about how many people were in the room when al-Jamadi died. Diaz emphasizes that Swanner was alone in the room with al-Jamadi. Errol Morris interview with Walter Diaz, April 22, 2006:

WALTER DIAZ: There were two CIA guys at the beginning, but when they were interrogating this one guy [al-Jamadi] there was only one.

ERROL MORRIS: So when you were asked [to come into the shower-room] there was only one guy in the room?

WALTER DIAZ: Yes. There was only one guy in the room"¦ Two guys brought him in "“ two CIA guys ­"“ but during the interrogation there was only one guy.

[16] Article 32 Transcript U.S. v. Harman, June 24, 2004:

DONALD REESE: I did see him after he died. His body was on the top tier as you walk into the cellblock to the left. It was on the top left side of the tier. I was called by CPT Brinson, Officer in Charge (OIC) of the wing, and he told me that we had a situation and that I should come up to see what was going on"¦ The body was clothed and laying on the floor. COL Pappas, LTC Jordan and some OGA guys were present looking at the body.

[17] Errol Morris interview with Walter Diaz, April 22, 2006:

WALTER DIAZ: So that's what I told him, "Listen sir, I don't know what happened. You guys in charge of this. I don't know what happened, I don't know what's going to happen." So that's when he took his cell phone, went out and started calling his people, I guess. And then as soon as that happened, I went and called my NCOIC, called him up on the radio. "Hey, sir, you need to respond here quick. We got this situation going on here." And then he was like, "Oh, what is it?" Because, you know, it was early in the morning, nothing went on. I said, "You need to get here now." He said, "What is it? Tell me?" I said, "Well, I think we have a dead guy here." And that's when they all started running and trying to find what was going on. And then matter of time, you had medics, you had the entire chain of command right there trying to figure out what was going on.

ERROL MORRIS: By the entire chain of command, whom do you mean? Who was there? Who shows up?

WALTER DIAZ: Well, we had a colonel that showed up.


WALTER DIAZ: Colonel Jordan, yeah, he was in charge of the MIs. He came in; the medics came in. Later, Captain Reese came in, Captain Brinson, First Sergeant. You had everybody showed up. Platoon sergeant, Sergeant Snider, everybody showed up.

[18] Captain Christopher R. Brinson, Interview Report, April 5, 2004, OIG, Case 2003-7423-IG, Death of Iraqi Detainee: "Brinson advised that he did not assume control of the situation surrounding al-Jamadi's death. He stated he was in charge of the MPs and considered al-Jamadi an OGA and Military Intelligence (MI) matter.

[19] Errol Morris interview with Lt. Colonel Steve Jordan, Aug. 5, 2007:

STEVE JORDAN: Colonel Pappas looked at me and said, "You know, I'm not going down alone for this." I said, "Sir, going down for what? The guy's an insurgent and he died." I said, "We didn't even know he was here. They brought him out. They failed to let anybody know, and they took him right in and started processing him. And started interrogating. And he said, "Alright, when the team leader gets here, bring him. We need to handle this." "Roger that sir."

[20] Errol Morris interview with Sgt. Hydrue Joyner, May 20, 2006:

HYDRUE JOYNER: Oh, okay. Yeah, I called him Bernie. You ever see that movie, "Weekend at Bernie's?" I don't want to spoil it for you. Go rent that and you'll understand what I'm talking about. But for you folks out there that knew what I'm talking about, when Bernie surfaced, if you will, again that happened on my day off. I come in the next day­

ERROL MORRIS: Hey wait a second. All this happens on your day off?

HYDRUE JOYNER: I'm telling you, everything happened on my day off. Everything that happened on my day off. You know, I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but it happened on my day off. So I come in after being off that day, and I'm going there and relieve­I think it was Sabrina that briefed me on it. And at 4:00 in the morning, your brain hasn't really started to function yet. It still hasn't decided if it wants to be awake or not. So she's telling me yeah, this, that and the other happened and I'm like, "What is that smell?" You know, we been in Iraq for a while and you can pretty much filter out certain senses. But I'm like, "Something just don't smell right, what is that smell?" And just as sure as I'm sitting right here, she says, "Oh, that's the dead guy in the cell." "Oh, okay." And she goes on about five minutes past it. "Wait a minute, did you just"¦­What did I hear you say?" "There's a dead guy in there." I had to wipe the­"¦clean out my eyes and out my ears. "Did you say there's a dead guy in the shower?" She said, "Yes." I said, "Are you playing with me? Am I getting punked?" "No." So I goes over to the shower and it was locked. The shower room is never locked, there's a padlock on the lock. Like, "What the hell is that, and why is there water coming out of there? "He's on ice." "What the hell do you mean, he's on ice? What is he doing dead, and why is he still here?" And apparently the guy was in some kind of interrogation and doing the interrogation, the man just died and that was it. That's the story I got, and I was like, "Wait, whoa, somebody"¦­You don't just die, you know, in the middle of talking to somebody." It just doesn't seem"¦­It doesn't happen every day. So she was like, "No, he was in the middle of interrogating and just expired. Ceased to exist." And I'm like, "And they left him here?" And, "Yeah, they left him there and put him on ice because we don't have a morgue. Where you going to take him?" You know, I guess, I guess that was the thinking. And I'm like, "Oh my goodness, this is not good. This can't be"¦­No, this ain't good." So lo and behold, I get the story and yeah, he died in interrogation and they put him on ice and a decision, I guess, was being made of how they were going to move him out without everybody thinking the man had just died. I'm like, "Oh Lord, have mercy." And I'm thinking to myself in the back of my head, "Oh, thank God I was off yesterday." The only thing"¦­Yeah, I mean, the man's dead, that's wrong, you know, I don't know him but I feel sorry for his passing. But it didn't happen while I was working, so you got to take your victories where you can get them. So I was like, "Whew." But yeah, Bernie expired on my day off.

[21]. Captain Christopher R. Brinson, Interview Report, April 5, 2004, OIG, Case 2003-7423-IG, Death of Iraqi Detainee: "Brinson stated that sometime after he arrived at the scene, a senior OGA person, whose name was Steve, arrived. He knew Steve from previous dealings at the prison with OGA detainees that were housed in the wing and tier reserved for sensitive prisoners of interest to OGA and MI. Brinson related that officer in charge of MI, Lieutenant Colonel Jordan, also came to the scene that morning and discussed with Steve what to do with al-Jamadi's body. As a result of those discussions, Steve advised Brinson that OGA would be removing the body from the prison. However, Steve subsequently informed Brinson that he could not move the body on that day and inquired whether Brinson could obtain ice to ice the body to delay composition."

[22] According to Sabrina Harman, most of the nightshift was present: Harman, Wisdom, Jones, Graner, Frederick, Javal Davis, Cathcart, Hubbard, Megan Ambuhl, Stephens, Goodman and Escalante.

[23] Captain Christopher R. Brinson, Interview Report, April 5, 2004, OIG, Case 2003-7423-IG, Death of Iraqi Detainee: "Brinson advised that OGA and MI developed a plan intended to remove Al-Jamadi's body from the prison without alarming or upsetting other prisoners. The plan was to place a bandage over Al-Jamadi's bloody eye and inserting an intravenous line in one arm, placing Al-Jamadi on a gurney, without the body bag, and moving him out to an ambulance that would take him out of the prison. This plan was to be carried out the day after Al-Jamadi died."

[24] Errol Morris filmed interview with Walter Diaz, April 22, 2006:

WALTER DIAZ: Well, what that, they didn't want to find out, other people, that there were other prisoners, they didn't really want to make them think that yeah, we're killing people here. And we didn't want to start no riots or nothing like that. So what they did, within the compound, they trying to cover it up. They actually called an ambulance, medics came in, and actually put in an IV, a fake IV on this guy, and took him on the stretcher. Make him seem like he was actually sick when they were transporting him. So they did a couple things just to­but that was for the site, though, that was to make it seem like nothing's happened here, everything's okay. This guy, he's still alive, he's just sick, we going to take him to the hospital.

And as far as trying to cover up for Army-wise, I don't know if that really happens. I don't know if they intended to do that, I never figured out what happened after that.

ERROL MORRIS: To do what? Intended to do"¦­I'm sorry?

WALTER DIAZ: To cover up. I don't know what the OGAs did to try and cover it up. I don't know the story about that. Once he left the site, we had no idea what was going on.

[25] Interview with Daniel Ellsberg, November 13, 2003:

DANIEL ELLSBERG: In '67 [Bobby Kennedy] told me the President was determined not to send ground combat troops. And he said, I don't know what he would have done in the event, you know, a year or two away. But I know what he intended to do, and he was determined not to send ground combat units. And I knew that he had had those units recommended to him by McNamara and others, virtually everyone else, in '61. And he rejected them. He sent only advisers, who are much less likely to suffer casualties. So they weren't as much of a commitment. So I could believe that was his intention, not to send ground combat units.

So I said to Bobby, rather impudently, "What made him so smart?" There was whap on the table and I jumped a little bit, and he hit the table again. And he said, "Because we were there! We were there in 1951," I believe it was. "We were there and we saw what happened to the French." And my brother was determined "“ "not to let that happen to us." And I said, soberly then, "Would he have been prepared to lose Saigon? To see Saigon go Communist?" Because that's the test. And Bobby said, "We would have fuzzed it up. We would have tried for a Laotion type of solution." And I knew what that meant. And he went on, he said, "A coalition government, an international conference, so we'd have other people making this deal, making this arrangement "” not just us.

[26] PDF of the report: http://www.npr.org/iraq/2004/prison_abuse_report.pdf

[27] PDF of the report: http://www.news.findlaw.com/hdocs/docs/dod/fay82504rpt. pdf

[28] Through 2005, the Department of Defense cites twelve government reports. "Formica's investigation was one of 12 major investigations and reports DoD has done," the defense official said. "The 12 investigations have yielded 492 recommendations, almost all of which have been implemented," he said. http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=160 17

As of June 2006, the Minnesota Human Rights cites seventeen major investigations, of which thirteen were conducted by the military. The remaining investigations were conducted by the FBI, UN, Red Cross and Intelligence Science Board.

http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/OathBetrayed/general-inves tigations.html

[29] SPC Jason Kenner, Sworn Statement, March 18, 2004, CID, file # 0237-03-CID259-61219. The statement is part of the Navy SEALs investigation into al-Jamadi's death. Kenner has no reason to lie. He is in no way linked to the death of al-Jamadi, but it is clear that his statement is important to the defense attorneys for the Navy SEALs because it clears the SEALs of direct involvement in al-Jamadi's death.

[30] SSG Mark N. Nagy Interview Report, 4/3/2004, OIG, Case: 2003-7423-IG, Death of Iraqi Detainee: Nagy related that Captain Christopher Brinson arrived on the scene within one-half hour of Diaz notifying Nagy of the death, whereupon Brinson reportedly took control from that point on. Nagy said that Brinson was responsible for icing the body down and arranging for the body's removal."

[31] The first photographs of al-Jamadi are taken less than one-half hour after the central, iconic photograph of the Iraq War "“ the two pictures of "the Hooded Man" on the box with wires "“ taken only a second apart at 11:01 PM. And then Sabrina takes (what is for me) the most powerful photograph from Abu Ghraib. It is taken with Graner's camera, rather than her own. It is a picture of Ivan Frederick looking at the most infamous photograph of the Iraq War "“ the picture of the hooded man "“ displayed on the screen of his own camera with the hooded man standing in the distance. I try to imagine what he is thinking, what he sees. What the image means to him? It has existed as an image for only a couple of seconds. It is being seen for the first time by one person ­"“ before it has been transmitted and re-transmitted around the world hundreds of million times and is seen by perhaps a billion people.

[32] http://morris.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/08/15/will-the-rea l-hooded-man-please-stand-up/

[33] This statement is part of Ivan Frederick's Record of Trial, 20 October 2004, p.285:

IVAN FREDERICK: I in turn looked over on 1 Bravo side and I seen Agent Romero [CID] over there. So I asked him, I went over and talked to him and I asked him what was going on with this particular detainee, and he told me that he had some valuable intelligence about the remains of four American soldiers and who possibly killed them. So I said, "Well, what do you want done to him?" He said, "I really don't give a "¦ just as long as you don't kill him." So then I went over and I just stood there and looked at him for a while. I seen these wires hanging from the wall inside the shower. I walked by them many times, so I just took one and wrapped it around his finger.

[34] Indeed, Brinson claimed to investigators that al-Jamadi had not been beaten. Captain Christopher R. Brinson, Interview Report, April 5, 2004, OIG, Case 2003-7423-IG, Death of Iraqi Detainee: Brinson stated that suspicion about the manner in which al-Jamadi might had died led him to look at the victim's mouth and nose, using his "sure-fire" flashlight, and noted he saw no blood or signs that al-Jamadi had bit his tongue. This allayed his concern that the deceased might have been beaten."

[35] In the "Final Autopsy Report," signed by Dr. Hodge and dated Jan. 9, 2004,"According to investigating agents, interviews taken from individuals present at the prison during the interrogation indicate that a hood made of synthetic material was placed over the head and neck of the detainee. This likely resulted in further compromise of effective respiration. Mr. Al-jamadi was not under the influence of drugs of abuse or ethanol at the time of death. The cause of death is blunt force injuries of the torso complicated by compromised respiration. The manner of death is homicide."

[36] Among the many charges listed in Sabrina's charge sheet dated March 20, 2004. "Charge VI, Violation of the UCMG, Article 134, Indecent Acts, Specification #1: In that Specialist Sabrina D. Harman, U.S. Army, did, at or near Baghdad Central Correctional Facility, Abu Ghraib Iraq, between on or about 1 August and on or about 31 October 2003, desecrate a human corpse by entering the Baghdad Central Correctional Facility Morgue, and unzipping a body bag in which a corpse was contained, and posing for photographs with the said corpse"¦ Specification #3: In that Special Sabrina D. Harman, U.S. Army, did, at or near Baghdad Central Correctional Facility, Abu Ghraib Iraq, between on or about November 2003 desecrate a human corpse by entering a shower-room where the corpse was covered by ice, opening the body bag in which the corpse was contained and taking pictures of the said corpse." These charges were eventually dropped.


Acknowledgments: I have benefited from many conversations with Philip Gourevitch, my researchers Amanda Branson Gill and Rosie Branson Gill, Ann Petrone, and my wife, Julia Sheehan. Charles Silver read many drafts of this essay and provided ideas and suggestions. Elizabeth Shelburne, Karen and George Grimsrud, and Alice Truax have been helpful with editing. I read Jane Mayer's pioneering reporting in The New Yorker. It encouraged me to look further into the circumstances of al-Jamadi's death. Brent Pack, a forensic investigator for the Criminal Investigation Division of the Army, created the time-line diagrams.

A major problem here is that few people have been willing to look past the photographs into the reality of Abu Ghraib. Sabrina Harman was not involved in al-Jamadi's death. I know this from hundreds of documents and sources. Someone in a blog wrote: "Who cares about these people?" Quite simply, I care. In learning about Sabrina Harman and the death of al-Jamadi, we can learn more about Abu Ghraib. I believe that the failure to prosecute any C.I.A. personnel for the death of al-Jamadi may lead to the highest echelons of the government. Investigating small things can often teach us about the big things that stand behind them.