U.S. Soldiers Trade Images Of Iraqi Dead For Porn
U.S. Soldiers Trade Images Of Iraqi Dead For Porn
BANGKOK, Thailand -- US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have posted on the Internet "several hundred" photographs of mutilated corpses from "the real war," in exchange for free online pornography, according to the owner of a Web site investigated by the Pentagon.
One of the images of hundreds that U.S. soldiers have been trading for porn.
"This is an uncensored view of the conflict going on in Iraq and Afghanistan," 27-year-old Christopher Wilson, owner of nowthatsfuckedup.com, said in an e-mail interview.
"These pictures are taken directly from the cameras of the soldiers and uploaded to my site.
"Gory photos are not the only ones accepted for free access, and the gory section is clearly labeled so those wishing not to see it aren't tricked into doing so," said Wilson, based in Lakeland, Florida.
"If people don't want to see the REAL war, then they simply don't have to look. I receive an average of three death threats per day, and it makes no sense to me. No one is forcing them to see this stuff".
Who photographed or posted the hundreds of pictures, who killed the unnamed people portrayed, and the photos' authenticity have not been publicly confirmed.
"Obviously, it is an unacceptable practice," said Bryan Whitman, a spokesman for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Associated Press reported on Tuesday (Sept. 27).
An Army spokesman, Col. Joseph Curtin, said the military's Criminal Investigation Division recently began investigating the matter, according to A.P.
"I am probably one of the strongest supporters of free speech you will ever meet," Wilson said in the interview on Tuesday (Sept. 27) about his Web site, which is based in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Anyone can view the photos of torn body parts and disfigured cadavers for free in the site's "gory" section, labeled "open access."
Set up in June 2004, the Web site originally offered only porn. Viewers gained 90 days' free access every time they sent in amateur nude photos or paid 10 U.S. dollars.
But voyeuristic U.S. military personnel based in Iraq and Afghanistan complained it was difficult to upload amateur nudity from their war zones or send payments from Baghdad and Kabul.
So about 10 months ago, Wilson invited them to send in pictures from their battlefields in exchange for 90 days' free access to the entire site.
Horrific, high-resolution, digital photos displaying close-ups of bullet-riddled, dismembered, burnt or blood-soaked corpses began appearing on his Web site.
Comments from contributors and viewers mocking and insulting the dead, cheering U.S. victories over Muslim enemies, cursing supporters and opponents of the wars, and other freewheeling chatter appear alongside the photos.
Pictures of shattered, mangled cadavers, often described as killed while fighting U.S. troops or from explosions, include body parts strewn on the desert, or dangling from twisted wreckage of vehicles.
Some photos include men wearing tan camouflage uniforms who are gawking, pointing, chuckling and posing amid the grisly human carnage.
Many of the uniformed men, however, do not display U.S. flag shoulder patches, unit markings, or name tags, though their faces are clearly identifiable.
"If you are asking why people [who] are standing around in the images have no patches or name tags, all I will say is the soldiers are being selective on what they upload," Wilson said.
"Apparently they can get in trouble for sending in these pics and they don't want to burn their fellow soldier or themselves by showing name patches etc.," Wilson said.
"We have just over 300,000 user-submitted images and videos taken of users' wives and girlfriends. As far as gory photos, I would say several hundred."
Weeding out suspected staged pictures is not impossible, but not fool-proof.
"I know pretty much the stuff to look for in these photos. That being said, I am human, and one may get by me that is a fake or a setup shot. If it was brought to my attention, the person that posted it would no longer be allowed to be a member of the site. They would be banned," Wilson said.
"The only [gory] photos I want on the site are from soldiers currently stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan."
One contributor of bloodied cadaver photos identified himself as zalzan kavol, and titled his offerings, "Don't FUCK with the U.S. Army".
He captioned his pictures: "Some more insurgents sent to explain themselves to Allah. Killing is never a casual occurrence, but I would kill a thousand to save one American life.
"I am not responsible for the enemy casualties shown here," zalzan kavol added.
SegDawg, a viewer, replied: "Don't see enough burns or mangling for rocket damage. Looks more like 50cal fire, maybe even 20mm gunship cannons. Very nasty."
GringosDeMierda, however, warned: "So, have you learned what the Iraq people feel? I like American weapons too, but those aren't toys. You are like bastards laughing and thinking war is a Xbox game.
"Osama is alive and you poor assholes won't find him. Just wait for another 9/11," GringosDeMierda concluded.
Wilson, meanwhile, insisted he is not anti-war: "I fully supported attacking whoever was responsible for the attacks on us on 9-11-2001. Beyond that, I will just support our troops no matter where they are sent whether I agree with the reasons why they are there. I'm not very political, I voted for Bush in the last election."
Controversy over his right to free expression versus demands for censorship by critics of his Web site worry the American online publisher: "I carry a concealed weapon on me at all times. I always have, even before any of these death threats. I don't consider any of the threats viable, but I do carry, just in case."
Richard S. Ehrlich, a freelance journalist who has reported news from Asia for the past 27 years, is co-author of the non-fiction book, "HELLO MY BIG BIG HONEY!" -- Love Letters to Bangkok Bar Girls and Their Revealing Interviews. His web page is www.geocities.com/asia_correspondent/