The prison squatted on the desert, a wall of sheer concrete traced with barbed wire, picketed by watchtowers.
The trick was not to make yourself a target: stay away from the windows, keep your lamps dim and covered—don’t cast a shadow. I saw a helicopter and it looked like the tail was swaying back and forth then it did it again then a huge flame/round shot up and it exploded. I have a bad feeling about this Like many young reservists, Harman had joined the Army to help pay for college.
On her first night at the prison, Specialist Sabrina Harman, a twenty-six-year-old M. from Virginia, wrote a letter home to the woman she called her wife: Kelly Its pm and we can hear shots—no white lights are allowed to be on at night no leaving the building after dark. We drove in and two helicopters were landed taking prisoners off. I turned around and we were under attack, I didn’t have my weapon (gun) so all we could do was hide under these picknick tables. She had never imagined that she’d see war, and Iraq often felt unreal to her; “like a dream,” she said.
“If there’s a fly on the floor and you go to step on it, she will stop you.” Specialist Jeremy Sivits, a mechanic in the company’s motor pool, said, “We’d try to kill a cricket, because it kept us up all night in the tent.
She would push us out of the way to get to this cricket, and would go running out of the tent with it.
“Of course, I’m going to help them first, but the first reaction is to take a photo.” In July, she wrote to her father, “On June 23 I saw my first dead body I took pictures! The photographs are ripe with forensic information.
Harman also had her picture taken at the morgue, leaning over one of the blackened corpses, her sun-flushed cheek inches from its crusted eye sockets.
“Just like that—like, medieval.” There were more than two and a half miles of wall with twenty-four towers, enclosing two hundred and eighty acres of prison ground.
And inside, Davis said, “it’s nothing but rubble, blown-up buildings, dogs running all over the place, rabid dogs, burnt remains.
The military term of art for the place where soldiers sleep and bathe and eat on base is L. A., which means “life-support area,” and at other forward operating bases around Iraq an L. Nobody had expected luxury at Saddam Hussein’s old prison, but morale was low to begin with—the M.
P.s just wanted to know when they were going home—and there was something about living in cells at Abu Ghraib that never felt right. It could have been people, for all we knew—bodies.” Sergeant Davis was not in doubt.
“They’re in there, in their little jumpsuits, outside in the mud. The sand lay several inches deep in places, mixed with decomposing trash. At Abu Ghraib, showers were wooden sheds with cold-water drums propped overhead.