TV: Iraq Season

Ghosts of Abu Ghraib

BBC/Channel 4

With the fifth anniversary of the West’s illegal invasion and errant desecration of Iraq upon us, the networks have seen no reason to halt the stream of related documentaries and dramas which have been filling the schedules on the sensible channels. The overall theme seems to be one of empty despair and impotent anguish: how did it ever get to this and will it ever end?

10 Days to War (BBC2, Thu 13 Mar, 10.30pm •••) is a series of decent enough short playlets which explores various perspectives in the run-up to the invasion while On That Day (More4, Mon 17 Mar, 10.45pm ••••) features a documentary account of the tragedy when one US marine was killed by an improvised explosive device (IED), sparking his fellow Americans to go on a bloody rampage, slaughtering 24 innocent Iraqi children, women and men. The documentary fares better than Nick Broomfield’s noble attempts to be even-handed in his feature film Battle for Haditha (Channel 4, Mon 17 Mar, 9pm •••). On That Day’s only failing is in borrowing too many of Broomfield’s reconstructed scenes, leaving a muddied impression of what and who is real or fictionalised.

Most damning of all is Ghosts of Abu Ghraib (Channel 4, Wed 19 Mar, 12.05am •••••), Rory Kennedy’s stunning film about the prison which in a previous life was used as Saddam’s death chamber but has become even more notorious as the locale of America’s Shame with the ghastly mistreatment (and in at least one case, the murder) of so-called suspects in the War on Terror. Errol Morris releases his Abu Ghraib film this year and even he will have to go some to touch the evil which stalks this brilliant documentary.

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