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The Oz of Abu Ghraib
By Kyle Ewing '96
Nurse anesthetist serving at Abu Ghraib
We've all seen the pictures of the atrocities at Abu Ghraib that appeared ad nauseum in the newspapers and magazines, but what about the other soldiers working at the prison? Are they all sadists, or are there really soldiers in Iraq dedicated to preserving the honor and integrity of the Iraqi people and their way of life?
The almost 1,000 soldiers who guard, feed, vaccinate, perform surgery, do community outreach, contact prisoners' families and provide a safe environment for the prisoners are completely sane and dedicated to their mission.
Abolished are the practices of hanging prisoners with no trial and death by firing squad or gas chamber, all done during Saddam Hussein's regime.
These prisoners get the same meals we eat and all the medical care they need. The standard of medical care provided to the detainees is no different from what an American prisoner would have in the United States.
Our prisoners here drool over Lara Croft in Tomb Raider on their plasma television while sweating on their elliptical trainer. This is all done in the air conditioned environment of our hospital, which boasts several fitness trainers to ensure that the Iraqis don't injure themselves and are getting a good cardio workout.
Once detainees enter the facility, they don't want to leave. It's as if they have made it to Mecca. They have clean clothes, air conditioning, religious freedom, American movies subtitled in Arabic (Charlie's Angels) and all the food they can eat. All the things they never had.
The vast majority of the detainees are extremely friendly, yet dirt poor. Many were caught selling munitions they had found so that they could feed their family; others are hard-line terrorists, the kind of people who have kept Iraq mired in the 19th century.
So when you see the news on TV or read the paper, remember to add a grain of salt. The reporters are selling their stories, and the mundane truth is not nearly as lucrative as pointing a sharp finger at a military mistake. We must admit that mistakes were made at Abu Ghraib, but find a prison in America where mistakes are not made, and I will show you Oz.
Capt. Kyle Ewing '96 is serving at Abu Ghraib prison as a nurse anesthetist. He also served in Karbala with the 912th Forward Surgical Team and at the 31st Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad.
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