Standard Operating Procedure

Director: Errol Morris
Year Released: 2008
Rating: 3.0

Intriguing (if, for the news-savvy, familiar) peek into the clusterfuck that was Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq where, back in 2004, military police hazed the (mostly innocent) detainees and were dumb enough to photograph the abuse for posterity. Morris has a history of taking on controversial subjects and this one is no exception, except - like Oliver Stone's W. - not a lot of the information presented is altogether groundbreaking: the government is responsible for basically fostering an environment in which the Prisoner-as-Other is no longer regarded as human by the scared, bored and impressionable MPs. The fact that this case was so well-publicized and so thoroughly-discussed is a credit to the press (and literary world in general) who have had a dodgy track record over the past decade but really jumped on this one … and with good reason, since those photographs are terrifying and demand psychological explanation (the contrast between the smiling faces of the abusers and the naked, sometimes faceless victims is unshakable). What does the government expect: they take young people, place them in an area with - what they're told - are killers and terrorists, have the area around them mortared and shot at by enemy combatants repeatedly, and expect them to act rationally?