Sony Pictures Classics and Participant Productions Present Standard Operating Procedure

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Sony Pictures Classics and Participant Productions Present

Standard Operating Procedure
An Errol Morris Film

Music by Danny Elfman
Production Designer, Steve Hardie
Edited by Andy Grieve, Steven Hathaway and Dan Mooney
Directors of Photography Robert Chappell & Robert Richardson ASC
Executive Producers, Jeff Skoll, Diane Weyermann, Martin Levin, Julia Sheehan and Robert Fernandez
Produced by Julie Bilson Ahlberg
Produced & Directed by Errol Morris

Director’s statement

Is it possible for a photograph to change the world? Photographs taken by soldiers in Abu Ghraib prison changed the war in Iraq and changed America’s image of itself. Yet, a central mystery remains. Did the notorious Abu Ghraib photographs constitute evidence of systematic abuse by the American military, or were they documenting the aberrant behavior of a few “bad apples”?

We set out to examine the context of these photographs. Why were they taken? What was happening outside the frame? We talked directly to the soldiers who took the photographs and who were in the photographs. Who are these people? What were they thinking? Over two years of investigation, we amassed a million and a half words of interview transcript, thousands of pages of unredacted reports, and hundreds of photographs. The story of Abu Ghraib is still shrouded in moral ambiguity, but it is clear what happened there.

The Abu Ghraib photographs serve as both an expose and a coverup. An expose, because the photographs offer us a glimpse of the horror of Abu Ghraib; and a coverup because they convinced journalists and readers they had seen everything, that there was no need to look further. In recent news reports, we have learned about the destruction of the Abu Zubaydah interrogation tapes. A coverup. It has been front page news. But the coverup at Abu Ghraib involved thousands of prisoners and hundreds of soldiers. We are still learning about the extent of it.

Many journalists have asked about “the smoking gun” of Abu Ghraib. It is the wrong question. As Philip Gourevitch has commented, Abu Ghraib is the smoking gun. The underlying question that we still have not resolved, four years after the scandal: how could American values become so compromised that Abu Ghraib - and the subsequent coverup - could happen?

A conversation with Errol Morris

Q: Tell me about Standard Operating Procedure.

EM: I think of the film as a nonfiction horror movie. The imagery is designed to take the viewer into the moment the photographs were taken, as well as to evoke the nightmarish, hallucinatory quality of Abu Ghraib.

Q: Your starting point is the photographs?

EM: Yes. The infamous Abu Ghraib photographs taken during the fall of 2003. It all starts with the photographs. They are at the core of this whole project. 270 photographs were given to the Army Criminal Investigation Division, and many of them appear in the movie. Standard Operating Procedure is my attempt to tell the story behind these photographs, to examine the context in which they were taken. People think they understand the photographs, that they are selfexplanatory. They think they know what they are about - but do they, really? That’s the question. Megan Ambuhl, one of the soldiers in the movie, asks: have we looked “outside the frame?” This film is an attempt to do that.

Q: Did you come to this subject out of an interest in photography?

EM: Yes. And my desire to make another investigative film - like The Thin Blue Line. I like investigating, and this was an opportunity to become involved in a contemporary, rather than a completely historical, investigation.

Q: You have been writing about photography for The New York Times.

EM: A series of essays for the online Times called Zoom. One of my ongoing themes is: photographs can be misleading - without context we are free to interpret photographs any way we choose. It’s one of the odd and interesting things about photography. You look at a photograph, you think you know what it means, but more often than not you could be wrong. Photographs provide evidence, but usually, it takes some investigative effort to uncover evidence of what?

Before I got involved with the Abu Ghraib story, I was thinking about a new kind of history. What if we could enter history through a photograph? What if we could enter the world of this war, as if you were using the photographs as a portal into history. Photographs are often used to accompany historical narration, but here we use them the other way around.

Q: Did you try to contact any of the detainees who were in the photographs?

EM: Yes, of course. We tried to locate the detainees who appeared in the most famous photographs. It’s been difficult to impossible. We spent over a year trying to track down “Gilligan,” the hooded man on the box. We couldn’t find him. Not through military records. Not through “fixers” on the ground in Iraq. We don’t even know if he’s still alive.

Q: How did you connect with the American military people that you did talk to? How did you gain their trust?

EM: It took a very, very, very long time. My mom told me: I’m a good nag. The central ingredient is persistence. My first interview was with Janis Karpinski, the brigadier general who was the head of the prison system in Iraq and who was later relieved of command and demoted by Bush. My cameraman, Bob Chappell, had seen her on C-SPAN and said, “You should have a look at this. This is really interesting.” I watched the piece, and asked Karpinski to come to Boston for an interview. We did an extremely long interview: seventeen hours over two days. Her anger comes through vividly. And it is clear that she was used as a scapegoat.

Q: Did that interview set you to tracking down the others?

EM: From Karpinski I decided to interview as many of the “bad apples” as I could.

[The media referred to “the seven bad apples” - the seven MPs who were indicted. The seven are Sabrina Harman, Megan Ambuhl, Lynndie England, Charles Graner, Ivan Frederick, Jeremy Sivitz and Javal Davis.] The first of them we interviewed was Javal Davis. We flew him up to Boston. He was extremely articulate and his interview was very, very powerful. From that point I was quite sold on making the movie. I didn’t know whether I would be able to make it, but I felt that it was a story that I needed to tell. The media and the government provided little information about these soldiers. Who were they? Why did they do what they did?

After Javal, I suppose you would describe the process as networking. It’s an odd way to use the term, but it’s meeting one person, getting that person to make calls, meeting another person, getting them to make calls. Eventually I was able to interview five of the bad apples, and other people who were prosecuted, principally Roman Krol. He was a military intelligence guy who appeared in several photographs taken by Lynndie England.

Q: Are the people in the film in contact with each other? I don’t see Megan and Lynndie going out for coffee together [Lynndie England became pregnant by Charles Graner while serving at Abu Ghraib. He was also having a relationship with Megan Ambuhl, and is now married to her.]

EM: Megan and Lynndie do not talk. Megan and Sabrina are friends and are in close contact with each other.

Q: You weren’t allowed to talk to Charles Graner?

EM: No. We weren’t allowed to talk to Chuck Graner or Ivan Frederick. They were in prison. Lynndie was paroled last April, and we talked to her about a month after her release. Frederick was released in November, but while they were in prison we had no access to them at all. My hope is to talk to Graner and to Frederick at some point in the future.

Q: Didn’t you have the urge to confront the higher-ups? Not Karpinski, but the other generals?

EM: Yes. But I was focused on something different. This is the flip side of The Fog of War. The Fog of War is about a man at the very top of the pyramid, the man second in the chain of command to the President. These are people who, rather than at the apex of the pyramid, are at the bottom. The central figures in this story are privates, specialists, sergeants. They are low ranking. And many were very young. Lynndie England was 20 years old.

Q: The women were particularly demonized, especially Lynndie England.

EM: People are surprised that she is articulate. Her last speech in Standard Operating Procedure is like a page from a Theodore Dreiser novel. It’s as if sex must inevitably lead to tragedy. It’s interesting: the pictures that became best known - the iconic photographs - usually have an American female MP in them. Lynndie England. So it’s this picture of a petite American woman dominating male Iraqi prisoners with the camera held by a male American soldier.

Q: The sexuality of the humiliation.

EM: Yes, that captured the attention of the world. And yet, I will always have a hard time understanding why stacking naked Iraqi men in a pyramid is an unspeakable sexual crime but trussing up naked Iraqi men with woman’s panties on their heads is not. Isn’t it all unspeakable? When they started working in Tier 1A [the area of the prison where most of the photographs were taken] in September, all of this was already in place. In Sabrina Harman’s first photographs, we see the stress positions, the panties, the whole nine-yards. As Lynndie England says, “This is what we saw.” We know one thing for certain, these MPs did not create these policies, they first witnessed them and then were asked to carry them out.

Q: Some of the photographs look posed.

EM: Yes. The most infamous among them are posed. I often think that if cameras had not been present, these events would not have occurred. The pyramid is an example. Graner, in all likelihood, orchestrated these events for the camera.

Q: So what were they punished for? For taking photographs?

EM: Yes. I believe they were punished for embarrassing the military, for embarrassing the administration. One central irony: Sabrina Harman was threatened with prosecution for taking pictures of a man who had been killed by the CIA. She had nothing whatsoever to do with the killing, she merely photographed the corpse. But without her photographs we would know nothing of this crime.

The photographs do two things at the same time. They provide an exposé and they provide a cover up. They showed the world that these things were going on, but they point the finger at a very small group of people. They make you think it’s these people who are the culprits. These are the people who are responsible for everything. That is a misdirection. It gives you a false picture.

Q: Plus the letters between Sabrina and [Sabrina’s domestic partner] Kelly are really striking, because they were written before there was any investigation. It’s not after-the-fact testimony.

EM: That’s correct. I should stress that those are the actual letters. That’s Sabrina’s handwriting. Those are all taken from the actual letters that were written to Kelly. Although the letters are excerpted in the movie, the plan is to include more substantial excerpts in the book.

Q: Beyond the first-person statements of the soldiers, we also hear shocking testimony from Brent Pack, the photo-investigator. He’s the only one, apart from you, who addresses the whole topic through the evidence in the photographs - namely, who took what, who was standing where, what was the timeline in which they were taken.

EM: Yes. He is the prosecution expert. He’s a government witness who was asked to examine the photographs and to put them into chronological order. He’s the one who makes this distinction between criminal acts and standard operating procedure. We see these really awful things that are considered standard operating procedure.

Q: Isn’t this a big indictment when Pack admits that, from the prosecution’s point of-view, many of these photographs depict standard operating procedures?

EM: To me it’s completely bizarre, particularly when Pack shows you the picture of the detainee known as Gilligan standing on the box with wires. It’s the iconic photograph from Abu Ghraib - for many people it is the iconic picture of torture - and Pack tells you that this is standard operating procedure. That moment, I hope, is shocking. It was for me. Shocking, in particular, because at that moment Abu Ghraib and the investigations into the photographs become about us - about our values, our society.

Q: It’s ironic that it comes from the guy that was on the government side. And then there’s an interrogator himself who talks about how torture became a calculated part of the process.

EM: That’s Tim Dugan, a civilian contract interrogator for CACI Corporation. [There were different groups of civilian contractors working at Abu Ghraib. CACI Corporation supplied interrogators, Titan Corporation supplied interpreters.] Dugan is remarkable. It was the most difficult interview for me to get. After what he has been through, I don’t believe he trusts anyone. But I do trust him. In the two years that I’ve been involved, he’s said some pretty heady things and made some strong claims, but what he told me has been independently confirmed by others.

Q: Another great shocker is the story of al-Jamadi, who died at Abu Ghraib during an interrogation.

EM: Yes. If not for Sabrina Harman and her photographs of his corpse, we would never know about it. It would be hidden. The death of al-Jamadi was written about for the first time by Jane Mayer in the pages of The New Yorker. But the reason we know about the murder is through Sabrina Harman’s photographs. Under a different set of circumstances, you could imagine Sabrina winning a Pulitzer Prize for photography.

Q: Has anything official happened with that murder?

EM: Yes, there have been a couple of prosecutions but no one has been convicted. Charges have been dismissed. And no CIA operative has ever been charged or convicted in connection with the murder - even though we know the name of the CIA operative who was alone in the shower with Al-Jamadi. Some of the Navy Seals who brought him to Abu Ghraib were charged but not convicted.

Q: I understand that you have amassed a lot more material in the course of making the film.

EM: Yes. I was not only involved in interviews. I was also investigating.

Q: Investigating?

EM: The closest thing that I can compare it to is The Thin Blue Line. In The Fog of War, I had only one person to deal with - Robert McNamara, the Secretary of Defense during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. In The Thin Blue Line, I was involved with a full-fledged investigation - trying to get one person after another to talk to me, trying to get them on film. In The Thin Blue Line, I was interviewing people - both on camera and on audiotape. I was collecting documents, testimony. It was a full-fledged investigation. The same is true with Standard Operating Procedure. I have a million-and-a-half words of transcript, over thirty interviews, tens of thousands of pages of documents, and over a thousand photographs.

Q: So you have over a thousand photographs that the press has never seen?

EM: Yes. I’ve been investigating now for two years and every person that I talk to I try to get material from them. We’ve assembled an archive, a really substantial archive of material on this subject.

Q: Do you have plans for all of this material?

EM: Well, it was pretty obvious during the making of this movie that there was more than one movie in this material. Part of it will be included in my book with Philip Gourevitch. [The book Standard Operating Procedure will be published in 2008 by Penguin Press. Gourevitch is a staff writer for The New Yorker and the editor of The Paris Review.]

Q: Do you feel an obligation to do more with it?

EM: I do. I feel an obligation to continue with the investigation, an obligation to see this through. I feel that Standard Operating Procedure is the tip of an iceberg. Frankly, I would like to see the people who were responsible for this punished. Many people involved in Abu Ghraib have been censured. But the people who are responsible for these policies have emerged unscathed. They pin medals on each other’s chest, and they congratulate themselves.

Q: Is there a “smoking gun” in this story as there was in The Thin Blue Line?

EM: The smoking gun is Abu Ghraib itself. The seven bad apples are a sideshow. It is all part of a much bigger picture. As Javal Davis says, the worst stuff was not in the photographs.

Q: Hasn’t the military and the administration repeatedly said that everything was in accord with the Geneva Conventions?

The one thing that can be said conclusively about Abu Ghraib is it was entirely a violation of the Geneva Conventions. All of it. First, you choose a prison-site that’s being mortared every day. You are talking about an incredibly dangerous place that was understaffed, undersupplied, and situated in the middle of the Sunni Triangle. There’s not enough food for the prisoners and often what food there is is contaminated. The conditions are horrible, and the detainees are on the verge of rioting. The MPs are outnumbered: one hundred to one. You have a prescription for disaster.

In addition, you have enormous pressure coming from above to get useful intelligence - to capture Saddam, to find Saddam. You have rules of interrogation that have been relaxed to the point where they are nonexistent. There is constant pressure to find people that can provide intelligence to the US military, but no real idea of how to do it. People rounded up in random sweeps and put in prison without any real hope of getting out. The prison population is growing. The insurgency is growing. And there is the growing realization, even though our leaders are in a state of denial, that this is not a cake walk, that the mission has not been accomplished, that Iraq is spiraling out of control. A growing feeling of desperation and fear.

Q: You’ve said that this is not a film about torture. But your outrage about torture is clearly implied.

At the core of this film, you are being introduced to a reality that people have not seen, and you have to ask yourself: what would you do? What kind of predicament were those soldiers put in? Untrained, understaffed, ill supplied. What does all of it mean and what does it mean about us - our military, our society? We haven’t wanted to look at it. I would like everybody who watches the film to ask themselves the simple question: What would I do if I had been put in this position?

Q: Do you feel that your film exonerates the indicted soldiers?

EM: If you’re asking, can I absolve these seven bad apples of all responsibility, the answer is, “No, I can’t.” But I can explain how they found themselves in this situation. I can provide a context for their actions.

I have tried to make a morally complex movie and to capture the complexity of the situation. The Fog of War attempted to capture the moral complexity of McNamara, and the problems that he was dealing with. People get confused. They think that to capture moral complexity is to exonerate or to absolve which is, of course, not the case. It’s simply to capture the moral complexity.

This story is about these soldiers dealt with the horror of Abu Ghraib. It’s also about how each one of us, as individuals, would deal with the nightmare of being trapped in something where there is no way out. It forces us - the viewers - to ask the question: how would I have reacted? What would I have done?

It’s much easier for us as a society to imagine seven bad apples as than to face the reality of what we were doing. The most chilling point for me is when Karpinski tells us: None of this produced useful intelligence. Nothing useful to the war effort came out of this place.


May 1, 2003 President Bush declares the end of major combat in Iraq.

June 30, 2003 Brigadier General Janis Karpinski assumes command of the 800th MP Brigade.

September 6, 2003 Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld visits Abu Ghraib. September 7, 2003 Major General Geoffrey Miller visits Abu Ghraib.

October 12, 2003 Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez issues the Interrogation and Counter-Resistance Policy for Iraq.

October 15, 2003 The 372nd MP Company begins its mission at Abu Ghraib.

October 18, 2003 Specialist Sabrina Harman photographs a prisoner nicknamed “Taxi Cab Driver.” He is shackled to his bed and has underwear on his head.

October 24, 2003 Corporal Charles Graner photographs Private First Class Lynndie England, Specialist Megan Ambuhl and a prisoner nicknamed “Gus.” “Gus” is naked and has a tie-down strap wrapped around his neck like a leash; Private First Class Lynndie England holds the end of the strap.

October 25, 2003 Private First Class Lynndie England photographs US soldiers alongside three naked prisoners who are shackled together on the floor.

November 4-5, 2003 Specialist Sabrina Harman and Staff Sergeant Ivan Frederick photograph a hooded prisoner nicknamed “Gilligan” who is standing on a box with wires attached to his fingers. A prisoner named Manadel al-Jamadi arrives at Abu Ghraib and is killed during an interrogation with CIA personnel. Specialist Sabrina Harman and Staff Sergeant Ivan Frederick discover and photograph al-Jamadi’s corpse.

November 7, 2003 Specialist Sabrina Harman, Private First Class Lynndie England and Staff Sergeant Ivan Frederick photograph seven prisoners as they are stripped naked, made to form a human pyramid and forced both to simulate and to perform sex acts. Sergeant Javal Davis, Corporal Charles Graner and Specialist Jeremy Sivits are also present.

November 24, 2003 A prisoner on Tier 1A uses a smuggled gun to shoot at MPs.

December 12, 2003 Photographs are taken of US soldiers using their military working dogs to attack a naked prisoner. The prisoner is bitten in his leg.

December 13, 2003 Saddam Hussein is captured.

December 29, 2003 - January 3, 2004 Photographs are taken of a prisoner nicknamed AQ, sometimes hooded, sometimes shackled, being menaced by a military working dog.

January 13, 2004 Specialist Joseph Darby turns in photographs to agents from the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division.

January 14, 2004 The investigation into photographs and prisoner abuse begins.

January 16, 2004 Colonel Pappas issues an amnesty period related to the photographs. The US Command in Baghdad issues a brief press release about an investigation into prisoner abuse.

January 21, 2004 CNN reports that US soldiers reportedly posed for photos with partially naked Iraqi prisoners and that the Army is investigating allegations of abuse at Abu Ghraib.

January 31, 2004 Major General Antonio Taguba is appointed to conduct an investigation into the 800th MP Brigade.

March 3, 2004 Major General Taguba briefs his superior officers on his findings. March 9, 2004 The Taguba Report is submitted in its final form.

March 20, 2004 The Army files charges against Staff Sergeant Ivan Frederick, Corporal Charles Graner, Specialist Sabrina Harman, Sergeant Javal Davis, Specialist Jeremy Sivits and Specialist Megan Ambuhl.

April 28, 2004 CBS breaks the Abu Ghraib story and broadcasts 12 of the photographs.

April 30, 2004 Seymour Hersch’s article “Torture at Abu Ghraib” is posted on The New Yorker’s website and it runs in the May 10, 2004 print edition.

May 7, 2004 Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

May 7, 2004 The Army files charges against Private First Class Lynndie England.

May 19, 2004 At a special court martial in Baghdad, Specialist Jeremy Sivits pleads guilty to dereliction of duty, maltreatment, and conspiracy to maltreat. He is sentenced to one year in a military prison, a reduction in rank to private, a fine, and a bad-conduct discharge from the Army.

May 24, 2004 Brigadier General Janis Karpinski is suspended, pending investigation.

August 23, 2004 The Schlesinger Report, a review of the Department of Defense’s detention operations, is submitted.

August 25, 2004 The Fay-Jones Report, an investigation of intelligence activities at Abu Ghraib, is published.

September 11, 2004 Specialist Armin Cruz pleads guilty to maltreatment and conspiracy to maltreat. He is sentenced to 8 months in prison, a reduction in rank to private and a bad conduct discharge.

October 20, 2004 Staff Sergeant Ivan Fredrick pleads guilty to aggravated assault, maltreatment, conspiracy to maltreat, indecent acts, and dereliction of duty. He is sentenced to 8 years in prison, reduction in rank to private, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and a dishonorable discharge.

October 30, 2004 Specialist Megan Ambuhl pleads guilty to dereliction of duty and is sentenced to a reduction in rank to private and loss of a half-month’s pay. She later receives an other-than-honorable discharge from the Army.

January 16, 2005 Corporal Charles Graner is convicted of assault, maltreatment, indecent acts, conspiracy to maltreat, and dereliction of duty. He is sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, a reduction in rank to private, a dishonorable discharge, and the forfeiture of all pay and allowances.

February 1, 2005 Specialist Roman Krol pleads guilty to maltreatment and conspiracy to maltreat. He is sentenced to 10-months in prison, a reduction in rank to private, and a bad conduct discharge.

March 21, 2006 Sergeant Michael Smith is convicted of assault, maltreatment, conspiracy to maltreat, an indecent act, and dereliction of duty. He is sentenced to 6months in prison, a reduction in rank to private, forfeiture of pay, and a bad conduct discharge.

June 1, 2006 Sergeant Santos Cardona is convicted of assault and dereliction of duty. He is sentenced to 90 days of hard labor, a reduction in rank to specialist, and a forfeiture of pay.

February 4, 2005 Sergeant Javal Davis pleads guilty to assault, intent to deceive on an official statement, and dereliction of duty. He is sentenced to 6 months in prison, a reduction in rank to private, and a bad conduct discharge.

April 8, 2005 Brigadier General Janis Karpinski is relieved of command of the 800th MP Brigade.

May 5, 2005 President Bush approves Janis Karpinski’s demotion to Colonel.

May 16, 2005 Sabrina Harman is convicted of maltreatment, conspiracy to maltreat, and dereliction of duty. She is sentenced to six months in prison, a reduction in rank to private, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and a bad conduct discharge.

September 26, 2005 Lynndie England is convicted of maltreatment, indecent acts, and conspiracy to maltreat. She is sentenced to three years in prison, a reduction in rank to private, and a dishonorable discharge.

March 1, 2007 Private Lynndie England is released on parole.

August 28, 2007 Lieutenant Colonel Steven Jordan is convicted of disobeying a general order to refrain from discussing the Abu Ghraib investigation. He is acquitted of more serious charges including the failure properly to train and supervise enlisted soldiers. He is sentenced to a reprimand.

October 1, 2007 Private Ivan Frederick is released on parole.

January 8, 2008 Lieutenant Colonel Steven Jordan is cleared of all criminal responsibility when General Richard Rowe dismisses his conviction and his sentence.

Onscreen participants

Javal Davis


372nd MP Company

Javal Davis was a sergeant with the 372nd MP Company who worked as a guard on the night shift at Abu Ghraib. He was prosecuted for his participation in the events of November 7, 2003. He was sentenced to six months in prison, a reduction in rank to private, and a bad-conduct discharge.

Ken Davis


372nd MP Company

Ken Davis was a sergeant with the 372nd MP Company who was assigned to convoy duty on the day shift at Abu Ghraib. He was neither implicated nor charged with any wrongdoing. He is no longer in the military.

Tony Diaz


372nd MP Company

Tony Diaz was a sergeant with the 372nd MP Company who worked as a guard on the day shift at Abu Ghraib. He was neither implicated nor charged with any wrongdoing. He is no longer in the military.

Tim Dugan

Contract Interrogator

Tim Dugan worked as a contract interrogator at Abu Ghraib for the CACI Corporation. He returned from Iraq in 2004.

Lynndie England

Private First Class 372nd MP Company

Lynndie England was a private first class with the 372nd MP Company who worked as a clerk at Abu Ghraib. She was prosecuted for participating in the events of the fall of 2003. She was sentenced to three years in prison, a reduction in rank to private, and a dishonorable discharge. She is currently on parole.

Jeffery Frost


372nd MP Company

Jeffery Frost was a specialist with the 372nd MP Company who worked as a guard on the day shift at Abu Ghraib. He was neither implicated nor charged with any wrongdoing. He is no longer in the military.

Megan Ambuhl Graner


372nd MP Company

Megan Ambuhl Graner was a specialist with the 372nd MP Company who worked as a guard on the night shift at Abu Ghraib. She was prosecuted for not reporting acts of abuse during the fall of 2003. She was sentenced to a reduction in rank to private and a fine; she later received an other-thanhonorable discharge.

Sabrina Harman


372nd MP Company

Sabrina Harman was a specialist with the 372nd MP Company who worked as a guard on the night shift at Abu Ghraib. She was prosecuted for participating in the events of the fall of 2003. She was sentenced to six months in prison, a reduction to rank to private, a forfeiture of all pay and allowances and a bad-conduct discharge.

Janis Karpinski

Brigadier General

800th MP Brigade

Janis Karpinski was the Brigadier General in command of the 800th MP Brigade in Iraq. Following the investigations into prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, she was relieved of her command and reduced in rank to colonel.

Roman Krol


Military Intelligence

Roman Krol was specialist who worked as a military intelligence interrogator at Abu Ghraib. He was prosecuted for his participation in the events of October 25, 2003. He was sentenced to ten months in prison, a reduction in rank to private and a bad-conduct discharge.

Brent Pack

Special Agent

Criminal Investigations

Brent Pack was a Special Agent for the Criminal Investigations Division who was tasked with analyzing the photographs from Abu Ghraib. He is no longer in the military.

Jeremy Sivits


372nd MP Company

Jeremy Sivits was a specialist with the 372nd MP Company who worked as a mechanic in the motor pool at Abu Ghraib. He was prosecuted for participating in the events of November 7, 2003. He was sentenced to one year in prison, a reduction in rank to private, a fine, and a bad-conduct discharge.

About the filmmakers

Errol Morris (Director and Producer)

Roger Ebert has said, “After twenty years of reviewing films, I haven't found another filmmaker who intrigues me more...Errol Morris is like a magician, and as great a filmmaker as Hitchcock or Fellini.” Recently, the Guardian listed him as one of the ten most important film directors in the world.

Standard Operating Procedure is Morris’s eighth feature-length documentary film. His preceding film, The Fog of War, a profile of former Secretary of Defense Robert S McNamara, received the 2003 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

His films have won many awards, including the Oscar, the Edgar from the Mystery Writers of America, the Golden Horse (Taiwan International Film Festival), the Grand Jury Prize (Sundance Film Festival) and have appeared on many ten best lists. They have been honored by the National Society of Film Critics, the National Board of Review, the New York, Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles film critics. Roger Ebert, in fact, has placed Morris’s first feature Gates of Heaven on his list of the 10 Best Films of All Time. In 1988, the Washington Post surveyed 100 film critics around the country and picked The Thin Blue Line as the best film of the year.

In 2000 and 2001, Morris directed two seasons of a television series, First Person, for Bravo and the Independent Film Channel. The series uses his unique interviewing machine, the Interrotron. A system of modified Teleprompters, the Interrotron allows interviewees to address Morris’s image on the monitor while looking directly into the lens of camera, which lets Morris and the audience achieve eye contact with his subjects. "It’s the difference between a faux first person and the true first person," says Morris. "The Interrotron inaugurates the birth of first-person cinema." The Interrotron was used for the interview with Robert S McNamara in The Fog of War and for all the interviews in Standard Operating Procedure.

Morris has made numerous television commercials, including campaigns for Apple, Citibank, Cisco Systems, Intel, American Express, Nike, and, in what he considers his most impressive achievement, over 100 commercials for Miller Hi-Life. In 2001, he won an Emmy for directing the commercial "Photobooth" for PBS.

Morris has received five fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Guggenheim Fellowship and a MacArthur Fellowship. In 2007 he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was a graduate student at Princeton University and the University of California-Berkeley.

In 1999, Morris' work received a full retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York; and in 2001, he received a special tribute at the Sundance Film Festival.

In addition to his current feature documentary, Errol Morris has co-authored, with Philip Gourevitch, a book on Abu Ghraib, also titled Standard Operating Procedure. The book, which is based on Morris’s interviews and extensive investigation for the film elaborates on the material in the film, and marks a unique collaboration in the history of film and literature. It is no more the “book of the movie” than the film is the “movie of the book.” Rather, the two works are each unique narratives, by two masters of nonfiction in response to one of the defining events of our time. Gourevitch is the Editor of the Paris Review, a long time staff writer at The New Yorker, and the prize-winning author of We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With our Families: Stories from Rwanda and A Cold Case. Penguin Press will publish the book in 2008 to concur with the release of the film.

Recently, Morris has also been a regular contributor to the opinion pages of The New York Times with his blog, Zoom, a series of essays on truth and photography. A book of essays based on Zoom (Which Came First, The Chicken or the Egg?) will also be published by Penguin in 2008.

Morris lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with his wife, Julia Sheehan, an art historian, and their son, Hamilton.


Feature Films

Standard Operating Procedure (2008)

The Fog of War (2003)

Mr Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A Leuchter Jr (1999)

Fast, Cheap & Out of Control (1997)

A Brief History of Time (1991)

A Thin Blue Line (1988)

Vernon, Florida (1981)

Gates of Heaven (1978)

First Person (2000-2002)

For More information about the director visit his website ( or read his blog through the NY Times at (

Julie Bilson Ahlberg (Producer)

Julie Ahlberg produced independent feature films and television movies before turning her talents to making award-winning documentaries and commercials. In 1994, she served as Supervising Field Producer for 500 Nations, a documentary miniseries on Native Americans for CBS, executive-produced and hosted by Kevin Costner. For commercial director Joe Pytka, Ahlberg produced numerous spots for national and international campaigns for such clients as Lotus, FedEx, Pepsi, Apple and Coors. She’s also worked with European directors, producing commercials for Credit Suisse, Volkswagen, Estrella, and Miller Lite.

Ahlberg’s creative association with Errol Morris began in 2001. She has since collaborated with him on all his documentaries and commercials, producing major campaigns for United Airlines, Apple, Cisco Systems, Intel, Miller Hi Life, Nike, and American Express. In 2004, Ahlberg produced The Fog of War, Morris’s documentary profile of Robert McNamara, which won the Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary. Ahlberg also produced Morris’ two celebrated “special short intro films” to the Oscar broadcasts in 2002 and 2007. Their collaboration continues with Standard Operating Procedure, Morris’ groundbreaking exploration of the Abu Ghraib scandal.

Robert Chappell (Director of Photography)

Beginning as a video artist in the Alternative Media movement in New York, Robert Chappell went on to become a successful documentary cameraman, shooting an eclectic list of projects in the US and around the world.

The projects ranged from experimental films with Yoko Ono; to the avant-garde Robert Wilson’s Civil Wars; to HBO's production of Elliot Erwitt's The Great Pleasure Hunt; to Lebanon's war zones in Coming of Age in Armageddon; and numerous films for British and German television. Errol Morris’ Standard Operating Procedure is his latest film.

Robert shot the documentary In Our Water, which was nominated for an Academy Award in 1982. Not long after, he began a collaboration with Errol Morris, and photographed the highly acclaimed The Thin Blue Line. In the 1990's Robert based himself in Southeast Asia, where he photographed and directed films for National Geographic, NHK, Channel 4 and the BBC. During that time, he also photographed several theatrical features, including Jakarta and The Sorceress Dirah. Upon returning to the US he began collaborating with Errol Morris once more, photographing the television series First Person, the Academy Award winning The Fog of War, and Standard Operating Procedure.

Robert Richardson ASC (Director of Photography)

Robert Richardson studied film and art at the Rhode Island School of Design before earning his master’s degree at the American Film Institute. He is a two-time Academy Award winner for Best Cinematography, for The Aviator (2004) and JFK (1992), and has also earned Oscar nominations for Snow Falling on Cedars (2000), Born on the Fourth of July (1990), and Platoon (1987). Richardson received his eighth ASC Outstanding Achievement Award nomination for The Good Shepherd. In addition to Standard Operating Procedure, his credits include such memorable films as A Few Good Men; Heaven and Earth; The Horse Whisperer; Casino; Salvador; Wall Street; The Doors; Natural Born Killers; Nixon; Wag the Dog; Four Feathers; and Errol Morris’s Fast, Cheap and Out of Control.

Andy Grieve (Editor)

Andy Grieve grew up north of Chicago, half way to Kenosha. He left the Midwest to study film at New York University, graduating with the class of '99. For the next few years he continued to learn the craft, absorbing the twisted wisdom of editor/mentor Hank Corwin. Experienced in both short and long-form, narrative and documentary, notable editing credits, in addition to Standard Operating Procedure, include Michel Gonrdy's music video The Hardest Button to Button for The White Stripes; and Jason Kohn's Manda Bala (Send a Bullet), winner of the 2007 Sundance Grand Jury Prize for Best US Documentary. Andy lives with his wife and two cats in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

Steve Hardie (Production Designer)

In 1981, Hardie graduated from Film School in London with a BA. (Hon's) in Photographic Arts (Film). He entered the film industry the following year on Star Wars: Return of the Jedi as a production assistant and camera department trainee. While continuing to explore the possibilities within the industry by brief stints in the special FX make-up department (Highlander) and the art department (Never Say Never Again, Half Moon Street and Hammer Horror), Hardie also pursued his cinematography passion, shooting a few small independent projects. Eventually settling in the art department, Hardie made his debut as a Production Designer on Clive Barker's Nightbreed at Pinewood Studios. He has gone on to design a number of other films, including the British Academy Award winning An Ungentlemanly Act, partially shot on the Falkland Islands; two six part UK. television series; Hellraiser III; Lord of Illusions; Buffy the Vampire Slayer; and numerous commercials. Most recently Hardie has collaborated with Errol Morris on Standard Operating Procedure, The Fog of War, which won the 2003 Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary, and numerous TV commercials.

Danny Elfman (Music)

Danny Elfman was born in 1953, in Los Angeles, California, where he currently resides. Over the last 20 years, he has established himself as one of Hollywood’s leading film composers. In addition to his score for Standard Operating Procedure, Elfman has written close to 50 film scores featuring his unique sound, including Batman, Spiderman, Men in Black, Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. In addition to these signature soundtracks, he has scored such diverse films as Big Fish, Good Will Hunting, Dolores Claiborne, Midnight Run, To Die For, Dead Presidents, Sommersby and Chicago. For television, Elfman created the infectious themes to The Simpsons and Desperate Housewives. His honors include a Grammy, an Emmy and three Academy Award nominations.

Elfman’s first experience in performing and composition was for a French theatrical troupe, “Le Grand Magic Circus,” at the age of 18. The following year, he collaborated with his brother Richard performing musical theatre on the streets of California. Elfman then worked with a “surrealistic musical cabaret” for six years, using this outlet to explore multifarious musical genres. For 17 years he wrote and performed with rock band Oingo Boingo, producing such hits as “Weird Science” and “Dead Man’s Party.”

In 2005, Elfman worked with long-time collaborator Tim Burton on the films Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the stop-motion animated musical Corpse Bride. Other projects include the scores for the Disney CGI animated feature A Day in the Life of Wilbur Robinson and Paramount’s adaptation of Charlotte’s Web, Disney’s Meet the Robinsons, and Universal’s The Kingdom.

Danny’s upcoming projects include Guillermo Del Toro’s Hellboy 2 and Wanted starring Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman.

Kyle Cooper (Graphics and Animation Designer)

Kyle Cooper has directed over 100 film title sequences, and has been credited with “Almost single-handedly revitalizing the main title sequence as an art form” (Details magazine). He is the founder of two internationally recognized motion design companies: in 2003 he founded Prologue films, and in 1996 he co-founded Imaginary Forces. Creativity magazine named Cooper one of the “Top 50 biggest and best thinkers and doers from the last 20 years of advertising and consumer culture.” He holds the honorary title of Royal Designer for Industry from the Royal Society of Arts in London, and is a member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale. Cooper earned a MF.A. in Graphic Design from the Yale School of Art, where he studied independently with Paul Rand.

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