Standard Operating Procedure
Director: Errol Morris
In the beginning of 2004 a number of photos depicting abuse, humiliation and possible torture of Iraqi detainees by the U.S. military personnel in the Abu Ghraib prison leaked out. In this documentary, several of these male and female soldiers come forward to argue that they were only softening up the detainees for interrogation or merely posing for the picture. We also hear the prosecution, who calmly went through the photographic evidence to determine whether the pictures depicted crime or standard operating procedure. In the end no one above the rank of Staff Sargent was ever prosecuted. The events in Abu Ghraib are horrific but Errol Morris’ approach seems misjudged. With The Thin Blue Line he famously helped to absolve an innocent man. With a slight exaggeration, this time he appears to be on a mission to vindicate a handful of guilty ones by arguing that they were only following orders. Well, isn’t that exactly what the Nazis said? To visualise his film, Morris uses a mix of the horrific photos, the usual talking heads and oddly over-dramatised footage shot by the Oscar winning cinematographer Ralph Richardson.