Iraqis don’t keep their money in banks because after the invasion of Kuwait, Saddam closed the banks, and when they reopened, people found that instead of the dinar being, whatever it was, one to three dollars to the dinar, that they were getting two thousand dinars to the dollar. After that they generally kept their money at home, and in hundred dollar bills. So often Iraqi houses have a surprising amount of cash in them, but this is the total savings of an extended family. Like anywhere else in the world where people keep large sums of money in their house, they are afraid of someone stealing it.

So if you knock on their door at two in the morning, they’re likely to answer it, and they’re all armed with guns. The U.S. military didn’t seem to realize this, so when the door was answered by an Iraqi with a gun, he was often shot dead — totally innocent farmers or businessmen or whatever. This created an enormous outrage at the time.

Larry Kaplow
Cox Newspapers

A country doesn’t want to believe that an army they sent overseas, their brothers and sons and fathers, have done bad things. It’s very hard to get the home country to accept that fact. And that’s not just in America. You see this in other places that have sent armies places. Every time there is a war, a nation goes in here with the whole mythology, and the whole rationale. It’s very difficult to work in anything that contradicts the mythology.

Scott Peterson
The Christian Science Monitor
Getty Images

The moment of Abu Ghraib [the photos of abuses were made public in April 2004] reinforced in [the Iraqi] mind all those rumors, all those prejudices — all those concerns that they weren’t certain were true but might have been, they now became very, very real. And whether they were real or not, the fact that they were real in Abu Ghraib — that those kind of abuses and those kind of events took place — all of a sudden made, in many Iraqi minds, every single abuse a real thing.

Thomas Dworzak
Magnum Photo
Ask the Pentagon, or ask the military: What harm has photography brought to the effort in the war? In a way, in a sick way, we’re pretty corrupted, by the reality — the bad pictures have been taken by their own people. The shocking pictures have been taken by Lynndie England. She should get the Pulitzer for investigating. That’s what brought out the real dirt. It wasn’t us, trying to get in while they rough up some Iraqi a little bit. The big iconic pictures questioning the effort in the war on terror, or whatever they call it — these have been taken by their own people. It doesn’t need a professional photographer to take a halfway decent picture. The pictures in Abu Ghraib, some of them photographically are very good pictures. No photographer has managed to take a more harmful picture — no professional photographer — has managed to take a more harmful picture than these guys in Abu Ghraib.

Colonel William Darley
Military Review

We have never recovered from the Abu Ghraib thing. And it’s likely all the time we’re in Iraq, we never will. It will take a decade and beyond. I mean, those pictures, a hundred years from now, when the history of the Middle East is written, those things will be part and parcel of whatever textbook that Iraqis and Syrians and others are writing about the West. Those pictures. It’s part of the permanent record. It’s like that guy in Vietnam that got his head shot. It’s just a permanent part of the history. That will never go away.


The Editors