Which one is the pornographer?

An amateur porn Web site allows soldiers to trade images of dead Iraqis for access to pictures of naked women.

Published September 21, 2005 5:50PM (EDT)

We're all for finding creative ways to support the troops in Iraq. Bringing them home, sooner rather than later, sits right up at the top of our list. But as Andrew Sullivan notes, the folks at a Web site called Now That's Fucked Up have another idea: They're offering U.S. troops free access to amateur porn in exchange for soldiers' photos from the war.

We checked out the site this morning. Some of the photos we saw there were about what you'd expect to see: Soldiers goofing off and looking tough with their guns; troops hanging out poolside at the former home of Uday Hussein; a soldier standing with an Iraqi kid.

But then there was the section called "gory." It's not the only place on the Web to see gruesome images from Iraq; a lot of sites offer pictures posted by soldiers, and Salon itself recently ran a gallery of grim shots from photojournalists in Iraq. The photographs in that gallery were graphic and disturbing, but -- in our minds, at least -- categorically different from the close-up, gore-for-gore's-sake photos of body parts posted at Now That's Fucked Up. And Salon ran the photos alongside an essay on the ways in which the government has kept the horrors of war hidden from its citizens. NTFU offers a picture depicting what's left of the head of a man shot with a .50-caliber weapon next to the words "I'm just here to masturbate" and above an ad for a Web site offering video of a mother and her daughter in a three-way sex act.

You can see that one here, if you must, but you ought to think twice before clicking through. There are simply no words adequate to describe the awfulness of what you'd see.

Even some of the site's customers seem to have qualms about what's going on there. When a poster on one of the site's message boards asked soldiers to contribute pictures of some "fresh kills," he was upbraided by his fellow posters and ultimately apologized, saying he had thought that calling for some "sand Nazi" blood would help boost the morale of the troops. But that sort of dialogue is in short supply at Now That's Fucked Up. More common are exclamations of support for the troops, juvenile jokes about dead people and name-that-body-part contests.

Is the Pentagon concerned about sites like Now That's Fucked Up? To an extent. In a memorandum -- a copy of which is posted on the site -- Army Chief of Staff Peter Schoomaker warned last month that soldiers compromise "opsec," or operational security, when they post photos from Iraq on the Web. But Schoomaker's memo was aimed at pictures that show "weapon system vulnerabilities and tactics, techniques and procedures." The memo didn't say anything about photos showing bits and pieces of dead human beings -- or the propriety of trading them for the chance to see naked pictures of somebody else's former girlfriend.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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Iraq Iraq War Middle East War Room