Standard Operating Procedure

Errol Morris

Under the regime of Saddam Hussein, the Abu Ghraib Prison in Bagdad was one of Iraq's most notorious. In 2004, it made world headlines because of the degrading situations in which the U.S. Army apparently put its prisoners. Photos attested to humiliation and torture, often of a sexual nature, and a congressional investigation revealed that this wasn't just an isolated incident. In the way he's known for, Errol Morris gives the floor to a number of those directly involved, including Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, Sargeant Javal Davis, military intelligence interrogator Roman Krol, and Private First Class Lynndie England. The tautly filmed interviews, with the interviewees gazing straight into the camera, are interspersed with the contested photos and some strongly composed dramatisations. The guilty parties have now been tried and look back on their behaviour in various ways some of them are baffled by their own lapses, while others wash their hands of the situation or play down the scandal. Most of those who refused to participate in the wrongdoing were dishonourably discharged from the Army. The question isn't only how all of this could happen, but also why the pictures were taken and to what extent a photo can influence public opinion and the course of history. And do we now know everything about the U.S. Army's misconduct in Iraq? (IDFA)


Errol Morris
United States
116 minutes
politics & democracy, prison & detention, terrorism, torture