WASHINGTON — Over a decade ago, the renowned journalist Seymour Hersh made one of the most startling claims of his career: that the U.S. government possesses video and audio evidence proving that U.S. soldiers raped teenage boys in Iraq.
Hersh, a journalist who won the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War, has claimed in a number of speeches that these sexual assaults occurred in Abu Ghraib prison, which U.S. forces’ claimed from Saddam Hussein’s government during the second Iraq War. Hersh first made claims that soldiers raped young Iraqi boys in 2004, months after shocking photos of torture and abuse became public for the first time, during a speech to the American Civil Liberties Union. Here is part of the speech, transcribed by Salon’s Geraldine Sealey:
“Videos, um, there are women there. Some of you may have read that they were passing letters out, communications out to their men. This is at Abu Ghraib … The women were passing messages out saying ‘Please come and kill me, because of what’s happened’ and basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys, children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. And the worst above all of that is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror. It’s going to come out.”
But more than ten years later, evidence of the alleged Abu Ghraib rapes remains classified, if it still exists at all. However, in 2004 a former detainee, Kasim Mehaddi Hilas, described witnessing the rape of a teenage boy by a U.S. Army translator to the Washington Post:
“Hilas also said he witnessed an Army translator having sex with a boy at the prison. He said the boy was between 15 and 18 years old. Someone hung sheets to block the view, but Hilas said he heard the boy’s screams and climbed a door to get a better look. Hilas said he watched the assault and told investigators that it was documented by a female soldier taking pictures.”
While 11 soldiers were ultimately convicted of abusing detainees, Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, told Truthout last year that Abu Ghraib remains an example of corporate crimes going unpunished:
“Private corporate contractors, hired by the US government to interrogate detainees, played a key role in directing and encouraging the acts of the low-level soldiers in those photos. … Yet, despite universal outrage and demands for justice when the photos were released, 10 years after the scandal came to light and many years after low-level soldiers were court-martialed for their role, the contractors have not faced any form of punishment. Instead, they continue to operate, continue to receive multi-million-dollar government contracts and continue to profit off of US taxpayers.”
Watch “SHOCK CLAIM: US Soldiers Raped Boys in Front of Their Mothers” from the David Pakman Show: