Standard Operating Procedure

Directed by Errol Morris

Standard Operating Procedure
Directed by: Directed by Errol Morris
By now, we’ve all seen the now-infamous Abu Ghraib photos---the female soldier pointing jaunty finger guns at the hooded, masturbating prisoner, the detainee on a leash, the pyramid of naked men. Most of us responded with appropriate moral disgust, and moved on. But Errol Morris isn’t most of us. In his latest excellent documentary, Standard Operating Procedure, legendary filmmaker Morris does what few have bothered to: He interviews many of the now-scapegoated “bad apples” who shot and posed in the photos, and thoughtfully, impartially attempts to root out the backstory behind the pictures that made Bush “apologize to the world.” In doing so, Morris (The Fog of War) uncovers truths both unsurprising (the use of torture to “soften up” prisoners before interrogation at Abu Ghraib was army-sanctioned; no military higher-ups were charged in connection with the photo scandal) and very surprising (Sabrina Harman, one of the convicted scapegoats, took her Abu Ghraib photos not to demean prisoners, but to document Army-sanctioned abuse she thought no one would believe existed). The result: a thorough, balanced film that’s not afraid to show the humanity in the finger-gun-popping soldiers we wrote off as inhuman.
---Lindsay McCarney

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