SOP – aka – standing operating procedure

So there is two subjects which can be connected with this acronym – SOP: First there is the leaked document ‘Standard Operating Procedure’, which has been published by Wikileaks last winter …

December 4, 2007, New York – The manual detailing Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for Guantánamo’s Camp Delta in 2004 was leaked to today by Wikileaks and is available here. The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and affiliated Guantánamo habeas attorneys helped provide a detailed analysis of the approximately 250-page document and compared it to the 2003 SOP manual leaked two weeks ago. The document, which is not classified but was not intended to be public, gives a detailed picture of conditions at the camp.
via wikileaks >> text

.. and there is the new film by Errol Morris with the same title:

There are photographs that burn their images into collective memory. The pictures that revealed the torture cases in Abu Ghraib in 2004 certainly fall into that category. The USA’s international standing took a massive blow from these “snapshots”, like none other since the shocking photos that came out of Vietnam.
Official investigations found only low-ranking soldiers guilty

trailer Errol Morris
of the terrible crimes committed in the largest US military prison in Iraq. The US government expressly denied any instructions legitimising torture or even knowledge of what was going on at higher levels.

So respect is due to a renowned American documentary maker like the Oscar winner Errol Morris, who wanted to find out how it came to these barbaric crimes and who actually knew about them. Unfortunately, “Standard Operation Procedure” doesn’t uncover any new facts. Although Morris does emphasise doubts in the ignorance and “innocence” of higher-ranking soldiers and government officers on several occasions, his focus is a very different one. The director concentrates on aspects that make for spectacular pictures.


“Standard Operation Procedure” is a worthwhile film, as it provides an impressive explanation of where the torturers’ lack of awareness comes from. The terrible photos from Abu Ghraib are presented once again, this time marked with red stamps. Half of the pictures bear the legend “Criminal Act” – when they explicitly show that the prisoners were subjected to physical abused or sexual humiliation.

But the second pile of photos is just as shocking, stamped with the words “Standard Operation Procedure” and meaning the treatment of the prisoners is legally permissible. Looking at these pictures, it is hard to distinguish between what is a crime and what is allowed.

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