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The Abu Ghraib Prison Photos

(warning: graphic photos below) (updated)

It’s the “liberation” of the Iraqi people – and it isn’t pretty….

These are just some of the photos that led to an investigation into
conditions at the Abu Ghraib prison, once Saddam’s torture palace,
and now run by the occupation authorities, as revealed in 
a shocking report
broadcast by CBS on 60 Minutes II.

Brig. Gen. Janice Karpinski, in charge of the occupiers’
detention facilities throughout Iraq, has been dismissed
from her post, and 6 U.S. soldiers face charges.

“This is international standards,” said Karpinski, in an earlier
interview with CBS. “It’s the best care available in a prison facility.”

Anybody can see that….

Below, Brigadier-General Janis Karpinski, who was
responsible for military jails in Iraq, and has now been
suspended in the abuse probe, meets with Donald Rumsfeld.

And even more disturbing screen shots made available from Global Free Press via TheMemoryHole.

These images are from the 60 Minutes II broadcast.
CBS says that it has twelve of these photographs, though there are dozens more. Among them:

The Army has photographs that show a detainee with wires attached to his genitals.
Another shows a dog attacking an Iraqi prisoner.

“60 Minutes” Logo Copyright CBS News: Reprinted for Fair Use

Published on Monday, May 3, 2004 by
The US Has Lost the Battle of the Photographs
by Juan Cole
The war of guns is only part of any great military enterprise. It is always supplemented by a war of words and, in the modern world, a war of images. The Bush administration, despite the savvy of its spinmeisters and Hollywood-trained publicists, has lost the war of images abroad. Although it has had more success in managing war images at home, cracks have increasingly opened up on the domestic front as well.

The graphic photos of abused Iraqi prisoners released on CBS’s 60 Minutes II news show on April 28 have been reproduced as stills and transmitted all over the internet, showing up, as well, on Arab satellite television and in the Arabic press. The footage shows US military personnel forcing nude Iraqi prisoners to simulate sex acts. In others they are made to form a human pyramid. One photo now circulating shows a man badly beaten. Another shows a corpse. Sexual humiliation may be the least of the indignities inflicted on some of the prisoners.

Several of the scenes show an American woman in uniform, gesturing lewdly and prancing before the hooded, nude Iraqi prisoners. One wonders if she is playing out her insecurities as a woman in the U.S. Army, looked down on by some of her male colleagues, by lording it over Iraqi prisoners of war. Was she compensating by playing dominatrix to Muslim men she imagined to be the ultimate male chauvinists? Although the main purpose of the abuse was to soften up the prisoners for interrogation, the precise forms of humiliation appear to have been shaped by the insecurities and prejudices of the reservists, who had been given no training in the Geneva Conventions.

The reaction to the photographs in the Arab world was, predictably, fury and humiliation. Samia Nakhoul of Reuters reported that Abdel-Bari Atwan, editor of the pan-Arabist London newspaper, al-Quds al-Arabi, said, “The liberators are worse than the dictators. This is the straw that broke the camel’s back for America . . . That really, really is the worst atrocity. It affects the honour and pride of Muslim people. It is better to kill them than sexually abuse them.” She also reported the sentiments of Daud al-Shiryan of Saudi Arabia: “This will increase the hatred of America, not just in Iraq but abroad. Even those who sympathised with the Americans before will stop. It is not just a picture of torture, it is degrading. It touches on morals and religion . . . Abu Ghraib prison was used for torture in Saddam’s time. People will ask now what’s the difference between Saddam and Bush. Nothing!”

Recently, the administration has fared no better in the image wars at home. The decision of the Sinclair Broadcast Group not to carry the April 30 broadcast of the late-night television news show from ABC, Nightline, anchored by Ted Koppel, because it was devoted to reading out the names and showing photographs of fallen U.S. military personnel, typifies the politicization of images. Koppel’s show inevitably humanized the U.S. casualties in Iraq, putting faces and names with the shadowy statistics reported in most U.S. newspapers and television news shows daily.

Sinclair, headed by rightwing media mogul David Smith, issued a statement that the Nightline program “The Fallen,” “appears to be motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq.” Democratic members of congress immediately called for a Federal Communications Commission investigation as to whether Smith was censoring the public airwaves for the sake of his own private political convictions. Senator John McCain, a former POW in North Vietnam, then weighed in with a letter to Smith: “Your decision to deny your viewers an opportunity to be reminded of war’s terrible costs, in all their heartbreaking detail, is a gross disservice to the public, and to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. It is, in short, sir, unpatriotic. I hope it meets with the public opprobrium it most certainly deserves.”

Koppel’s program was the height of minimalism. The anchor simply read out the names of servicemen and servicewomen killed in Iraq from the onset of the war to the present. The names had been being printed in the newspapers all along. The controversy clearly lay in the presentation of over 700 images of real human faces, belonging to the deceased. Although Koppel was accused of deliberately damaging the war effort, it is not clear that the troops he is memorializing would have wished to remain anonymous. Not being, or letting others be, a mere statistic is important to the persons serving in the military in Iraq. My late friend, naval reserve Lieutenant Kylan Huffman-Jones (whose picture Koppel showed), observed to me two months before he was shot dead at Hilla that he had to keep reminding himself that each fatal casualty statistic he saw in U.S. military intelligence reports was a human being.

Even high Bush administration officials cannot seem to remember how many dead U.S. soldiers there have been at any one time as a result of the war. In congressional testimony on April 29, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz said he thought there had been “approximately 500” troops killed since the beginning of the war, of which “350” were combat deaths. In fact, as of that day 724 US troops had died in Iraq, of which 522 were combat deaths. His office later said that he “misspoke.” But this error is instructive of the way in which the hawks in Washington have hidden the costs of their Iraq adventure from the public so assiduously that they have even begun hiding it from themselves.

The over 700 U.S. servicemen and servicewomen killed in Iraq have largely been denied the commemoration that should have been accorded to them on the national stage. The White House has forbidden television coverage of the return of their coffins to Dover Air Force Base, much less coverage of their military funerals. When an enterprising journalist requested the photos of returning coffins under the Freedom of Information Act, a military bureaucrat accidentally granted the request (or perhaps it was not so much an accident as insubordination). Newspapers all over the country carried the photographs of the dozens of flag-draped coffins, despite White House reluctance to see them published.

The power of images is recognized by the Bush administration and the Pentagon, which helps explain the sometimes punitive way they have treated cameramen in Iraq. In mid-October last year, U.S. soldiers detained for several hours an Agence France-Presse photographer and a Reuters cameraman who were trying to cover the aftermath of a guerrilla attack on US military vehicles there. There have been many such incidents of the harassment by the U.S. military of cameramen in Iraq, and some have even been killed out of carelessness. The U.S. military often has seemed convinced that photographers are giving aid and comfort to the enemy, and it is certainly true that the images coming out of Iraq have greatly contributed to public disillusionment with Bush’s handling of the issue.

Fallujah would not go away, either. Among the more dramatic setbacks to the Bush administration in the image wars came in Fallujah on March 31, when guerrillas killed four American private commandos working for Blackwater Security Consulting, some of whom had previously been Navy Seals. Angry crowds desecrated and burned the bodies, then hung some from a bridge, and were filmed doing so. The infuriated mob employed a monstrous politics of theater to give voice to a growing Iraqi insistence that U.S. troops get out of the country. The depth of that sentiment was later confirmed by a USA Today/Gallup poll that showed that fully 56% of Iraqis wanted US forces out of their country in late March (the percentage can only have increased subsequently).

The images of the desecrated former Navy Seals that ran on many U.S. television news programs posed a severe danger to the Bush administration. Everyone in the press remembered how the U.S. had been forced out of Somalia under President Clinton after the images ran of Mogadishu crowds dragging dead Marines through the streets. Bush strategists feared that the American public might lose heart, and that the Iraqi guerrillas might be emboldened. Given that the military is short-handed in Iraq, and depends on an estimated 20,000 private commandos (which some observers have termed “mercenaries”), there was also a danger that it would be harder to maintain or grow this civilian contingent if they feared they could be killed with impunity.

The panic in the White House and the Pentagon over the images of what Fallujah crowds did to the American commandos helps explain the disproportionate response. The Marines besieged and bombarded the entire city, killing hundreds of persons, some unknown percentage of whom were civilians. Many Fallujan young tribesmen, who had earlier declined to do so, now picked up a gun and joined the insurgents.

Ironically, the Bush administration’s attempt to erase the images of American humiliation and replace them with images of Iraqi submission badly backfired. The footage of American war planes bombarding civilian neighborhoods shocked Iraqis, other Arabs, and the world. Even Adnan Pachachi, an Iraqi nationalist politician who had cooperated with the U.S. and served on its appointed Interim Governing Council, went on al-Arabiya satellite television and thundered, “It was not right to punish all the people of Fallujah, and we consider these operations by the Americans unacceptable and illegal.” Given Bush administration enmity toward the Arab satellite stations, Pachachi calculated both the statement and where it was made as a strong rebuke.

The problem of war images from Iraq alienating the Iraqi and Arab publics dogged the Bush administration right from the time it launched the war in March of 2003. Arab newspapers put graphic pictures of injured and maimed Iraqi children, innocent victims of the fighting, on their front pages and the enormously popular satellite television stations also displayed them. U.S. news networks and newspapers chose not to print such photographs, with the result that Arabs have been seeing a different war than Americans all along.

The Americans have never known enough about Iraqi or Arab culture to play the game in reverse, and their attempts to do so have often backfired. On April 28, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld triumphantly held up at a news conference a photograph of armed young men inside the shrine of Imam Ali in the Shiite holy city of Najaf. He wanted to prove that the shrine did not deserve to be a sanctuary, since it was being used for military purposes.

But there are no circumstances under which the Muslim world would accept a U.S. military assault on downtown Najaf that involved firefights in or damage to the shrine of Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad. An Iraqi public might wince at the sight of AK-47 machine guns in a holy place, but many would also see the image as one of dedicated young Muslims willing to fight a holy war to protect their sacred space against infidel encroachments. For them, Rumsfeld’s photograph is not so much incriminating as it is a matter of pride.

The images of the war have stubbornly come out despite the best efforts of Donald Rumsfeld and Karl Rove, Bush’s campaign manager. True, the wounded US soldiers and the wounded Iraqi children have gotten relatively little news coverage. But burning Humvees, bomb craters, and collapsed buildings, have all along punctuated the evening news. The intimate pictures directly touching on Americans have had a more gut-wrenching impact. The photographs of the dead fresh-faced twenty-somethings were highlighted this week by Koppel, and by major newspapers like the Washington Post. The pictures of flag-draped coffins coming into Dover have already become iconic of the Iraq war, despite earlier attempt to suppress them.

But the most fateful pictures of all have been the footage of the aerial bombardment by Americans of Fallujah, a densely inhabited city, and of American soldiers torturing and humiliating Arab prisoners. The success of the American war effort depends crucially on retaining public support in the U.S. and winning hearts and minds in Iraq and the Arab world. The images seeping out of Iraq are undermining both, because aggression, wrong-headed policies and incompetence have left a trail in photos. That is what the manipulators of the media who favor perpetual war are so afraid of.

Juan Cole is professor of modern Middle Eastern and South Asian History at the University of Michigan. He is the creator of the weblog Informed Comment and author of, among other works, Sacred Space and Holy War.

Copyright C2004 Juan Cole

New Prison Images Emerge
Graphic Photos May Be More Evidence of Abuse

A group of men lie naked and bound to one another on the walkway in front of the cells at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad.


By Christian Davenport
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 6, 2004; Page A01

The collection of photographs begins like a travelogue from Iraq. Here are U.S. soldiers posing in front of a mosque. Here is a soldier riding a camel in the desert. And then: a soldier holding a leash tied around a man’s neck in an Iraqi prison. He is naked, grimacing and lying on the floor.

Mixed in with more than 1,000 digital pictures obtained by The Washington Post are photographs of naked men, apparently prisoners, sprawled on top of one another while soldiers stand around them. There is another photograph of a naked man with a dark hood over his head, handcuffed to a cell door. And another of a naked man handcuffed to a bunk bed, his arms splayed so wide that his back is arched. A pair of women’s underwear covers his head and face.

The graphic images, passed around among military police who served at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, are a new batch of photographs similar to those broadcast a week ago on CBS’s “60 Minutes II” and published by the New Yorker magazine. They appear to provide further visual evidence of the chaos and unprofessionalism at the prison detailed in a report by Army Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba. His report, which relied in part on the photographs, found “numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses” that were inflicted on detainees.

This group of photographs, taken from the summer of 2003 through the winter, ranges widely, from mundane images of everyday military life to pictures showing crude simulations of sex among soldiers. The new pictures appear to show American soldiers abusing prisoners, many of whom wear ID bands, but The Post could not eliminate the possibility that some of them were staged.

The photographs were taken by several digital cameras and loaded onto compact discs, which circulated among soldiers in the 372nd Military Police Company, an Army Reserve unit based in Cresaptown, Md. The pictures were among those seized by military investigators probing conditions at the prison, a source close to the unit said.

The investigation has led to charges being filed against six soldiers from the 372nd. “The allegations of abuse were substantiated by detailed witness statements and the discovery of extremely graphic photographic evidence,” Taguba’s report states.

For many units serving in Iraq, digital cameras are pervasive and yet another example of how technology has transformed the way troops communicate with relatives back home. From Basra to Baghdad, they e-mail pictures home. Some soldiers, including those in the 372nd, even packed video cameras along with their rifles and Kevlar helmets.

Bill Lawson, whose nephew, Staff Sgt. Ivan L. “Chip” Frederick, is one of the soldiers charged in the incident, said that Frederick sent home pictures from Iraq on a few occasions. They were “just ordinary photos, like a tourist would take” and nothing showing prisoner abuse, he said.

“I would say that’s something that’s very common that’s going on in Iraq because it’s so convenient and easy to do,” Lawson said of troops sending pictures home. He added that his nephew also mailed videocassettes “of him talking into a camcorder to [his wife] when he was going on his rounds.”

But in the case of prisoner abuse, the ubiquity of digital cameras has created a far more combustible international scandal that would have been sparked only by the release of Taguba’s searing written report. Since the “60 Minutes II” broadcast, pictures of abuse have been posted on the Internet and shown on television stations worldwide.

The photographs have been condemned by U.S. military commanders, President Bush and leaders around the world. They have sparked particularly strong indignation in the Middle East, where many people see them as reinforcing the notion “that the situation in Iraq is one of occupation,” said Shibley Telhami, who holds the Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland.

The impact is heightened by religion and culture. Arabs “are even more offended when the issue has to do with nudity and sexuality,” he said. “The bottom line here is these are pictures of utter humiliation.”

It is unclear who took the photographs, or why.

Lawyers representing two of the accused soldiers, and some soldiers’ relatives, have said the pictures were ordered up by military intelligence officials who were trying to humiliate the detainees and coerce other prisoners into cooperating.

“It is clear that the intelligence community dictated that these photographs be taken,” said Guy L. Womack, a Houston lawyer representing Spec. Charles A. Graner Jr., 35, one of the soldiers charged.

The father of another soldier facing charges, Spec. Jeremy C. Sivits of Hyndman, Pa., also said his son was following orders. “He was asked to take pictures, and he did what he was told,” Daniel Sivits said in a telephone interview last week.

Military spokesmen at the U.S. Central Command in Qatar and at the Combined Joint Task Force 7 headquarters in Baghdad referred requests for comment about those claims to Col. Jill Morgenthaler, a U.S. military spokeswoman. Morgenthaler could not be reached by telephone yesterday and did not return requests to comment by e-mail. Requests to speak with Col. Thomas M. Pappas — who commands the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, based in Germany, and whose troops were stationed at Abu Ghraib — were declined by a U.S. military spokesman for the Army’s V Corps in Heidelberg, Germany.

Yesterday, in Fort Ashby, W.Va., two siblings and a friend identified Pfc. Lynndie England, 21, as the soldier appearing in a picture holding a leash tied to the neck of a man on the floor. England, a member of the 372nd, has also been identified in published reports as one of the soldiers in the earlier set of pictures that were made public, which her relatives also confirmed yesterday. England has been reassigned to Fort Bragg, N.C., her family said. Attempts to reach her were unsuccessful. The military has not charged her in the case.

England’s friends and relatives said the photographs must have been staged. “It just makes me laugh, because that’s not Lynn,” said Destiny Goin, 21, a friend. “She wouldn’t pull a dog by its neck, let alone drag a human across a floor.”

England worked as a clerk in the unit, processing prisoners before they were put in cells, taking their names, fingerprinting them and giving them identification numbers, her family said. Other soldiers would ask her to pose for photographs, said her father, Kenneth England. “That’s how it happened,” he said.

Soon after CBS aired its photographs, Terrie England said she received a call from her daughter.

” ‘Mom,’ she told me, ‘I was in the wrong place at the wrong time,’ ” Terrie England said.

The pictures obtained by The Post include shots of soldiers simulating sexually explicit acts with one another and shots of a cow being skinned and gutted and soldiers posing with its severed head. There are also dozens of pictures of a cat’s severed head.

Other photographs show wounded men and corpses. In one, a dead man is lying in the back of a truck, his shirt, face and left arm covered in blood. His right arm is missing. Another photograph shows a body, gray and decomposing. A young soldier is leaning over the corpse, smiling broadly and giving the “thumbs-up” sign.

And in another picture a young woman lifts her shirt, exposing her breasts. She is wearing a white band with numbers on her wrist, but it is unclear whether she is a prisoner.

Staff writers Michael Amon, Scott Higham and Josh White contributed to this report.

Experts: We’re hard-wired to be hooked by horror

By Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY
This may not be the most violent period in history. It may just seem like it. People are bombarded, as never before, with images of terror, torture and degradation, in living color, 24/7.
Parents are grappling to explain photos of Americans torturing Iraqi prisoners.
Courtesy of The New Yorker via AP

The reaction to this cascade of images — mutilated American bodies in Fallujah, abused prisoners at Abu Ghraib, Nicholas Berg beheaded on video — raises troubling questions about Americans’ relationship with violence. (Related story: What to tell the kids when the good guys run amok)

After all, box office hits, Nielsen stars and best-selling video games spring from entertainment laden with gore, sadism and humiliation. “In today’s media-saturated environment, where we are pelted with many compelling images, we need to be shocked before we perk up and pay attention,” says Matthew Felling, media director for the Center for Media and Public Affairs in Washington, D.C. “Anything that violates your eyes — nudity, violence, crassness — cuts through the buzz.”

Yet viewers say they’re horrified.

“We say, ‘How perverse! How awful can you get!’ and ‘Hey, look at this one!’ ” says author Maggie Scarf, who specializes in mental health problems.

But some experts fear that the immersion in violent imagery will ricochet in people’s psyches.

“It desensitizes us to violence. It makes us scared. And decades of research show it can facilitate violence in the viewer,” says Frank Farley, former president of the American Psychological Association.

The effect of this hits much closer to home than Iraq, says Lenore Walker, a psychologist with NOVA Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale.

Ordinary people may grow less tolerant during conflict “with anyone who bugs him, road rage, any little stressors,” Walker says.

The repercussions of witnessing violence, even vicariously, can “go beyond the brain, into your body, your whole nervous circuitry,” Scarf says. “It can make you feel helpless, that life is out of control and there is no possible response to what’s going on.”

So why don’t people just turn off the news, choose different entertainment, shut out the images?

•The draw is biological, says Stuart Fischoff, professor of media psychology at California State University in Los Angeles.

From the time humans lived in caves until they moved into subdivisions, “we’re innately attracted to things that have a threat potential. We track them, instinctively orienting toward the catastrophic or dangerous,” he says.

•It’s cultural habit.

Long after Romans cheered kill-or-be-killed gladiators, Gladiator became a global box office smash. People have been telling stories of murderous rage, genocide and war since Homer sang of Troy, says Yahoo “Movie Mom” critic Nell Minow of McLean, Va.

And people indulge in violent images for entertainment or political persuasion because fundamentally, they know that what they see is unreal, distant or indirect.

“Even someone who has seen Dawn of the Dead will still be moved and horrified by documentary footage from a war zone,” Minow says. “It really is different if you know that it’s real.”

•It’s effective.

Where a violent image is missing, it is supplied to prod voters to the polls, to pack crowds at rallies or rev up donations. Look at clashes over abortion rights in which each side holds placards — coat hangers recalling back-door abortion days on one side, mutilated fetuses on the other.

•It may be necessary, especially in a democracy, in which people need information to make choices.

“The fact is that war is a terrible, terrible thing, and everyone is on the front lines,” Minow says. “Now that everyone is embedded through photography, we will have to be more honest with ourselves about the risks we are taking and the sacrifices we are making.”

This echoes responses by many newspaper and Web site readers surveyed last month by the Associated Press Credibility Roundtables project.

More than 13,642 readers of 29 news outlets were asked whether media should have published the photo of Iraqis cheering as the burned bodies of two Americans hung from a bridge in Fallujah.

The majority, 58%, said yes.

The debate over the line between information and overkill raises another question. “Is it more healthy to have a less realistic vision of the world?” Felling asks.

“If the barometer for (using violent images) is whether Americans would be comfortable with them over their cereal in the morning, what happens when the world doesn’t pass the cereal test?”

Contributing: Karen S. Peterson

Photos that will haunt us more than words ever could

Steven Winn, Chronicle Arts and Culture Critic, May 19

Click to View Click to View Click to View

No matter what happens over the coming weeks and months, as the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal plays out in courts-martial, congressional hearing rooms and the press, those photographs aren’t going away. From the moment they first emerged on a “60 Minutes II” telecast late last month and promptly shot around the globe, the digital snapshots of American soldiers humiliating Iraqi prisoners in various ways held the public imagination in a fierce, wrenching grip.

Not since Vietnam have widely publicized images registered in such an intimately disturbing way. By depicting the smiling, relaxed faces of soldiers in command of naked, huddled and often faceless figures, the photographs bypass our socialized filters and strike to some appalled and agitated place in all of us.

At once casual and formally contrived, static and sadistic, the Abu Ghraib photographs are, in some way, horribly compelling. Like Goya’s pitiless etchings of “The Disasters of War” (1809-14) or Picasso’s lurid “Guernica” (1937), they send a peering light into the darkest, most perverse scripts of power and submission that play out in the human subconscious.

“Narratives make us understand,” writes critic Susan Sontag in “Regarding the Pain of Others,” her 2003 study of war and other violent images. “Photographs do something else. They haunt us.”

How is one to comprehend the powerful dark cloud these particular photographs conjured? And then what to make of the thunderclap that followed, with the grainy, premonitory video stills that freeze-frame those moments before the Nicholas Berg beheading?

To a war that has been with us for months, the world’s eyes have been forcibly pried open. We are all witnesses, willingly or not, to a collective haunting at the precipice of human behavior. These unguarded images have accomplished that in a way no other dispatches from Iraq have.

There is, first of all, the vivid and visceral shock of seeing what’s behind the prison walls at Abu Ghraib. Abuse, torture — call it what you will: Graphic depiction of captors forcing their captives to strip, pose and play-act in sexual scenarios violates the basic moral and ethical grounds on which the Geneva conventions rest.

Darker deeds are suggested as well. One photograph shows a hooded and robed prisoner perched on a wooden box with arms outstretched and electric- shock wires attached to both hands. There are allegations (and reportedly photographs) of grimmer sexual tactics, including sodomizing detainees with inanimate objects, simulated sex, coerced masturbation and rape threats; beatings; and possible homicide at Saddam Hussein’s recommissioned house of terror.

The fact that the perpetrators are Americans, smirking and flashing thumbs up to their buddies’ cameras, twisted, contorted and quickly politicized the reaction. Critics of the war and its aftermath found compelling, confirming evidence of a toxic foreign policy. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, defending his troops and his job, insisted that the sins of a few must not be an indictment of the many. Psychologists, human rights workers, religious thinkers, editorialists and election-year politicians weighed in with their own carefully measured perspectives.

And then there was the catharsis line of reasoning from talk radio pundit Rush Limbaugh. “You ever heard of emotional release?” he rhetorically asked his audience. “You heard of the need to blow some steam off?”

The photographs, as photographs do, finally say more than anyone can to amplify, appropriate or explain away their meaning. Even more than film or video, as Sontag says, photography has “the deeper bite” when it comes to etching memories. Our minds apparently work that way, filing fixed tableaux to register events both great (the flag raising at Iwo Jima) and small (a child’s cheeks puffed out over birthday candles).

The shots at Abu Ghraib fall somewhere in between, which may contribute to their vexing fascination and unshakable persistence. Taken in a casual way for as yet unclear purposes, the photographs have none of the grit, grandeur or tenderness that mark conventional wartime photography.

Here, instead, we have the leering, frat-party prank of Pfc. Lynndie England leaning in close to a naked prisoner’s genitals and grinning at the camera as she pops up both thumbs. In another image, U.S. Army Spc. Charles Graner stands, arms folded, behind a heaped pyramid of crouching naked bodies. Another female American solider completes the picture, her own smiling face positioned just above some faceless Iraqi’s hunched back.

The jovial mood is jarring and discordant. So is the offhand, snapshot look of the photos. Some are carefully, woodenly posed, like shots of tourists in front of a roadside monument or Grand Canyon view. Others, such as the blurry view of tightly leashed dogs snarling at a cringing naked man, are the hurried candid action shots of a camera hungry to catch it all.

The nudity and sexual content of the photographs clearly complicate and confound the public’s reactions. In a recent commentary, Tikkun magazine’s Michael Lerner argued that the sexual nature of the humiliations at Abu Ghraib transformed the Iraqi prisoners into powerless innocents in many eyes. Lerner lamented that Americans seem disinclined “to identify with the victims of torture when it does not have this sexual dimension.” He went on to speculate on the sadomasochism and staged homosexuality photographed and their connection to the repressed “fantasy life of many many Americans.”

In both deeply private and broadly cultural ways, these prison photos do reverberate. There’s something oddly classical, almost allegorical about the deployment of the nude bodies in some of the images. All those limbs and torsos and agonized postures unintentionally invoke noble paintings like Poussin’s “The Rape of the Sabine Women” (1636) and Rubens’ “The Consequences of War” (1638). Then, too, there are the echoes that any photographs of unclothed prisoners touch off. From the Civil War to World War II to Cambodia and Vietnam, the vulnerability of the prisoner is underscored by near or total nakedness.

None of this fully accounts for the insinuating force of these photographs. There’s an obscenity to the Abu Ghraib catalog that goes beyond the content of the images themselves. Their mere existence and wide-scale distribution cast an implicating stain. Writing of a very different kind of photographed violence, Sontag notes, “Intrinsic to the perpetration of this evil is the shamelessness of photographing it.”

Sontag’s subject here is a 2000 touring exhibition of American lynching photographs from 1890 to 1930. What happened at Abu Ghraib cannot be compared to the lawless murder of black men over all those decades. No moral equivalence is intended or should be drawn. But our experience through photographs of the prison abuse is uncomfortably familiar. The shameless dash and carefree bravado of these images are intrinsic to the sense of evil unleashed.

That the release of these deeply unsettling photographs was followed by the grisly videotaped murder of Nicholas Berg seems dreadfully fateful, regardless of the actual motive of that killing. None of this will — or should — fade from our consciousness soon. These photographs will be an American family album of our haunted memories.

E-mail Steven Winn at

Last Update: Thursday, May 20, 2004. 10:06pm (AEST)
A US prison guard gives the thumbs-up over the body of an unknown prisoner in Abu Ghraib jailA US prison guard gives the thumbs-up over the body of an unknown prisoner in Abu Ghraib jail.(Reuters)

New Iraqi prison photos surface

United States prison guards are smiling and giving the thumbs-up over the body of an unknown prisoner in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib jail in new pictures broadcast by US media.

The photos, broadcast on Thursday, show Army Specialist Charles Graner grinning with his thumbs up as he peers into the camera over an unidentified body lying on a black body bag.

A second almost identical picture was taken of Specialist Sabrina Harman over the same body.

Both were shown on CNN television.

Both photographed soldiers are among seven US guards at Abu Ghraib charged with prisoner abuse.

One of them, Jeremy Sivits, was sentenced to one year in jail on Wednesday in Baghdad, in the first court martial over the prisoner abuse scandal.

CNN said the two new photographs, which have not been authenticated, surfaced following Sivits’ courts martial in Iraq.

Numerous photographs of US soldiers posing before naked, hooded and often handcuffed Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib have made the round of international media since last month.

Hundreds more have been shown only to US lawmakers and kept by the Pentagon as evidence in upcoming courts martial.

The Pentagon on Wednesday informed a Senate committee by letter that it had located another disc with 24 digital photographs of “apparent abusive acts by US forces”.

Thirteen of the pictures on the disc “appear to be images already seen on international television media,” the Pentagon said, adding that it was not clear whether the images were genuine or fakes.

The widespread abuse – which the Red Cross has said is tantamount to torture – has severely sullied US reputation in Iraq and the entire Arab world.


A picture released by ABC News on Wednesday shows a woman identified as Specialist Sabrina Harman posing over the body of detainee Manadel a-Jamadi in Abu Ghraib prison. REUTERS/ABC News/Charles Fredrick


This photo, provided to the media by the attorney representing Spc. Charles Graner, purportedly shows Graner with military intelligence and military police personnel at Abu Ghraib prison.


In prison abuse scandal, ‘following orders’ defense just might work

Thursday, May 20, 2004 Posted: 4:23 PM EDT (2023 GMT)Thursday, May 20, 2004 Posted: 4:23 PM EDT (2023 GMT) Thursday, May 20, 2004 Posted: 4:23 PM EDT (2023 GMT)

(AP) — It is the “defense of superior orders,” in the jargon of military justice.

It didn’t work for the Nazis at Nuremberg, or for Army Lt. William Calley, who claimed he was just following orders when he directed the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War.

But it could help the Army guards accused of abusing Iraqis inside the Abu Ghraib prison avoid long sentences, and just might get them off the hook entirely, if they can prove there were such orders and establish who gave them, experts in military justice say.

“The defense of superior orders is no defense if the accused knows the act is illegal,” explained Michael Noone, a retired Air Force colonel and military attorney. Soldiers are required to disobey unlawful commands, he said, but the “big issue is going to be whether or not the order was obviously illegal.”

Pictures taken of nude Iraqis being sexually humiliated in the same prison where Saddam Hussein’s regime tortured thousands of opponents have infuriated America’s enemies and allies alike. President Bush characterized the abuse as the failings of a few renegade soldiers and promised that those responsible will be quickly punished.

One of the seven guards, who tearfully pleaded guilty in Baghdad Wednesday and will testify against the others, has said that the mistreatment was not authorized by superior officers. “If they saw what was going on, there would have been hell to pay,” Spc. Jeremy C. Sivits told military investigators.

But most of those accused said they were just following the orders of intelligence officers and civilian contractors who told them to humiliate the prisoners and thereby make them more willing to reveal information.

In letters home to his family, Staff Sgt. Ivan L. Frederick said that he was told “this is how military intelligence wants it done,” and that when he questioned his battalion commander about the harsh inmate conditions, he was told “to do as he says.”

The treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib “was being controlled and devised by the military intelligence community and other governmental agencies, including the CIA,” said Guy Womack, an attorney for Spc. Charles Graner Jr., who was arraigned in Baghdad along with Frederick and Sgt. Javal Davis. “There’s going to be plenty of evidence that they orchestrated all of this.”

The defense just might work, said Tim Naccarato, the former chief of the criminal law division of the Army’s Judge Advocate General School.

“If these lower-ranking military policemen can make the case they were told to do these things, instructed to do these things, they were cooperating with intelligence to soften up these prisoners so they would provide more information, they have the ability to be found not guilty based not so much on `I was following orders’ but based on the theory that a criminal act requires not only an act but criminal intent,” Naccarato said.

Some members of Congress want to investigate whether the Bush administration erected a legal foundation that opened the door for the mistreatment by announcing in 2002 that al Qaeda detainees did not qualify for protection by the Geneva Conventions, which prohibits mistreatment.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld dismissed that assertion as “garbage,” but Sen. John Warner, R-Virginia, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, insisted that questions remain about “how those in positions of responsibility either ordered, encouraged or authorized — or maybe looked the other way.”

The superior orders defense will be extremely difficult to assert in the courts-martial because the accused must prove who gave them the orders.

“Certainly, the lawyers they’re going to have their work cut out for them,” said Eugene Fidell, a defense attorney and president of the National Institute of Military Justice.

Military law experts could not recall a single case in which the superior orders defense completely cleared a defendant, but said it often works to reduce prison time.

“It may not absolve you, but it would certainly mitigate what you’ve done,” said David Sheldon, a former Navy attorney.

Davis, 26; Frederick, 37; and Graner, 35, face charges along with Spc. Megan M. Ambuhl, 29; Pfc. Lynndie R. England, 21; and Spc. Sabrina Harman, 26.

Graner can be seen grinning broadly behind a pile of naked Iraqis in one photograph; others show England holding a naked prisoner by a dog leash and Ambuhl posing with detainees on leashes. Harman is seen smiling over a pile of naked prisoners. Davis is said to have stepped on the toes and fingers of prisoners. Frederick is accused of forcing prisoners to masturbate and form naked human pyramids.

A teary-eyed Sivits, 24, took some of the most explosive photographs. He pleaded guilty to four reduced abuse charges — the equivalent of misdemeanors — and is expected to testify against others.

The following-orders defense, also known as the Nuremberg defense, got its modern-day start in 1945, after some of the 22 Nazis indicted for war crimes claimed they were carrying out orders during Germany’s decade-long drive to kill millions of Jews. Eleven were sentenced to death, three were acquitted and the others were sent to prison.

In Vietnam, the defense did not help Calley, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1971 for ordering his Charlie Company to kill everyone in the village of My Lai. Still, some believed he was made a scapegoat for an undisciplined Army, and President Nixon ordered him released after three years.

The defense may be more successful in the prison-abuse scandal than in cases involving genocide or murder. There is no dispute that murder is wrong, and that an order to commit murder would be an unlawful order. But laws governing proper interrogation tactics are more open to interpretation.

It is unclear whether fellow soldiers on the court-martial juries would be sympathetic toward the accused. Many serving in Iraq may blame the scandal for making their tour more dangerous.

Then again, they also know how hard it can be to disobey a potentially illegal order, said David Sheldon, a Washington-based military attorney.

“Ask any American what the Geneva Convention requires in the gray area of intimidation, or ask a young, unsophisticated private guarding a prison while their buddies on the outside are being shot,” Sheldon said. “You’re going to do exactly what these people did if told to.”

A US soldier in a flak jacket appears to be using both hands to restrain a dog facing an Iraqi detainee in the Abu Ghraib prison. The photo is one of the hundreds of unreleased pictures and videos that display techniques not seen in earlier images of prison abuse. (Photo: Washington Post)null
A US soldier with his right arm and fist cocked appears prepared to strike one detainee in a pile of detainees in the Abu Ghraib detention facility outside Baghdad. (Photo: Washington Post)
An unidentified soldier appears to be kneeling on naked detainees in a photo from the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. (Photo: Washington Post)
In what appears to be a hallway, a hooded detainee, seems to be handcuffed in an awkward position atop two boxes. The frame seems to show the prisoner’s ankle cuffed to the door handle behind him. (Washington Post photo)

A U.S. soldier appears to be using both hands to restrain a dog facing an Iraqi detainee in the Abu Ghraib prison. (The Washington Post)

 New Images Amplify Abuse at Iraq Prison – WashPost
Fri May 21, 2004 01:13 AM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In a collection of hundreds of so-far-unreleased photographs and short digital videos obtained by The Washington Post, U.S. soldiers are shown physically and emotionally abusing detainees at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison, the newspaper reported on Friday.The new pictures and videos go beyond the photos previously shown in the media, displaying a variety of abusive techniques and U.S. soldiers appearing to delight in abuse of detainees at the U.S.-run prison near Baghdad, the newspaper said.

Photos and videos from Abu Ghraib were presented to Army investigators in January. The images began surfacing publicly last month, severely damaging the U.S. reputation in the Arab world.

The Post said one video clip showed five hooded and naked detainees standing against the wall in the darkness, each masturbating, with two other hooded detainees crouched at their feet.

Another segment of video showed a prisoner handcuffed to the outside of a cell door, slamming his head into the green metal, the newspaper said.

An image on the newspaper’s Web site showed a soldier wielding a baton as a naked detainee covered in a brown substance stood in a hallway with his arms outstretched and ankles cuffed together.

Another photo showed a prisoner in an orange jumpsuit recoiling from a snarling dog, it said.

In a description of some photos the article said: “Hooded and cloaked men are handcuffed to hallway rails. A prisoner in flexible handcuffs is made to use a banana to simulate anal sex. Two naked male detainees are handcuffed to each other. A naked detainee hangs upside down from a top bunk.”

The newspaper said the new images did not shed light on who directed the abuse, which is the subject of several investigations.

But in one photo a soldier is seen cocking his fist as he holds a hooded detainee in a headlock amid a pile of several detainees. Later he is seen kneeling atop the pile, flexing his muscles, a broad smile on his face, the newspaper said.

U.S. soldiers also turned the cameras on themselves, filming scenes of consensual sex, the Post said.

Defense Department spokesman Lawrence DiRita told The Post that the images sounded like those the Pentagon showed to members of the U.S. Congress and that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had warned might become public.

A Pentagon spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

Lawmakers saw more than 1,600 images from the investigation of mistreatment of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib.

The Post also said it had obtained 13 previously secret sworn statements by detainees at the prison that further detailed abuse.

Many of the detainees described how they were sexually humiliated and assaulted, threatened with rape and forced to masturbate in front of female soldiers, according to the newspaper.

The statements added allegations of prisoners being ridden like animals and forced to retrieve their food from toilets, the newspaper said.

from the May 26, 2004 edition

Press wrestles with grim clips
Media extensively cover the prison scandal while rejecting the most obscene images.
By Randy Dotinga | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

Buffeted by a roiling debate over explicit images of violence, American news organizations are walking a fine line between good journalism and bad form as they try to cover the war in Iraq without alienating readers and viewers.Should they listen to commentators demanding the broadcast of the unedited video of Nicholas Berg’s execution? Is it time to downplay the prison-abuse photos to help protect US soldiers, or time for the media to throw all its unpublished images onto the Internet?

AT ABU GHRAIB:This photo is one of hundreds depicting the abuse of Iraqi detainees at the hands of US soldiers.



Mainstream newspapers and major TV networks have been groping for a middle ground as they cover both the prison-abuse scandal and war casualties while rejecting the most violent and obscene images.

Some TV news programs chose to show the moment when Mr. Berg’s killer pulled out a knife before killing the visiting American. But none showed the decapitation itself. And The Washington Post, which published another round of prison-abuse pictures on Friday, has declined to run dozens of photos for a variety of reasons, in some cases because they’re too sexual or violent. “These are human beings, and we’re trying to be judicious,” says executive editor Leonard Downie Jr.

But those efforts haven’t quelled controversy over the volatile images, according to a new Christian Science Monitor/TIPP survey and other polls. Many Americans support the media’s watchdog role of investigating and exposing prisoner abuse, while others worry that repeated display of shocking photos may cross boundaries of propriety at home or prompt new attacks on Americans abroad.

In seeking the right balance, mainstream news organizations are grappling not only with their own traditions but with emerging rivals, such as the Internet and talk radio.

Vaughn Ververs, editor of The Hotline, National Journal’s online political newsletter, argues that the press is in danger of becoming irrelevant, with so many people turning to the Internet – where the Berg video is enormously popular – in search of the most complete war coverage. News organizations are “no longer the gatekeepers of what Americans see and don’t see,” says Mr. Ververs. “They’re at risk of losing their audience to a large extent.”

The quandary of what to show

Still, the media outlets play a gatekeeper role, weighing what a general audience, including children, should see.

The Post is especially cautious about what it puts on the front page, Mr. Downie says. Indeed, many newspapers have chosen to stuff the most shocking photos inside, where they’re often smaller and in black-and-white. In California, The Sacramento Bee ran a warning on the front page about explicit material on an inside page.

The Christian Science Monitor, too, has been careful in passing disturbing images along to readers.

“We ask ourselves what is truly new information, whether it is still news by the time we publish, and whether publishing amounts to facing an important issue or simply wallowing in the depiction of suffering or causing further harm to the victims,” says Monitor editor Paul Van Slambrouck. “All this means we’ve been highly selective and used images only when essential to the meaning of the story.”

Standards are different in the radio world, even amid an industrywide crackdown on explicit programming in the wake of the Janet Jackson’s breast-exposing incident during the Super Bowl. Local and national radio talk-show hosts, including Fox News commentator and bestselling author Sean Hannity, aired the unedited audio of the Berg video, complete with the victim’s gruesome screams. “I know you don’t want to hear this. But you should make yourself hear it, because it is … evil in your midst,” Mr. Hannity said.

Along a similar vein, Laura Schlessinger, the radio psychologist known as “Dr. Laura,” told listeners last week that high-school students should, with parental permission, watch the Berg video to better understand the war.

Little worry of tampering with history

Newsroom denizens do say there’s one thing they’re not worrying about – the effect of the Iraqi images on world events. “It doesn’t enter into the consideration at all, and it shouldn’t,” said veteran reporter Terence Smith, correspondent for “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” on PBS. “What we’re trying to do is report the news and what’s going on, not affect the war effort one way or another. And it would be very hard to decide what the ultimate impact of these photos will be.”

According to a Monitor/TIPP poll finished last week, most Americans have another perspective. Some 52 percent disapprove of the release of the prison-abuse photos. A similar question in a CBS News poll found 43 percent objecting to the images’ release. And forty-nine percent of those polled by CBS said the media spent too much time on prisoner-abuse stories.

While those numbers suggest antipathy toward, or at least frustration with, the press, ombudsmen at five daily newspapers – in Houston, Sacramento, San Francisco, Seattle, and Tucson, Ariz. – report that the most graphic images from Iraq spawned only mild to moderate interest among readers. There’s much more uproar when papers tinker with TV listings, the comics, or the crossword puzzle.

Houston Chronicle reader representative James T. Campbell says liberals wanted to see more prison photos, while conservatives clamored for more images of Berg to show terrorists are “barbarians.”

WARY OF TOO MUCH EXPOSURE:Q: Some say widespread media coverage of prisoner treatment in Iraq is responsible for triggering new retaliation against Americans. Do you agree or disagree with this point of view?

Robert Weitzel: Photos of dead and wounded a rebuke to Bush’s war in Iraq

By Robert Weitzel
June 3, 2004

The photographs of tortured Iraqis released in April were an abomination.

The images in these photographs plumb the depths of humankind’s capacity to inflict evil upon those who have been demonized. The evil we see in the photographs of April is not a product of race, “ism” or religious belief, however. It is a product of our humanity that has followed us from the cave. The ghost of Cain has dogged our steps through every age and on every continent.

By any standard, the photographs of April should stand throughout history as a testament of the evil unleashed on the Iraqi people by an American president, his cadre of right-wing ideologues, and a country made willing the old-fashioned way, with lies and fear and appeals to patriotism.

The photographs of April 2003 were deemed too disturbing to Americans’ sanitized sensibilities and too damaging to the war effort to be published.

But make no mistake. These photographs have been published in other parts of the world and the images on these prints are indelibly fixed in the minds of those who live in fear and hatred of the Bush administration’s doctrine of pre-emptive war.

There are no prison cells or prisoners in the photographs of April 2003. No dog leashes. No silk panties. No sexual humiliation. No grinning American soldiers. There is no one who looks like us to blame in the photographs of April 2003. There are only the tortured victims, both dead and unmercifully alive. And they look different than we do, as victims of war always must.

There is a photograph of a father – a farmer perhaps – holding out the bloody pieces of his child to the camera lens. His face is tortured by grief and the insanity of impotent rage. He is screaming, “Cowards! Cowards!” He wants someone to bear the blame. But no one can or will. His child’s dismemberment is collateral damage, which falls outside the lawful parameters of guilt.

There is a photograph of a boy. He is lying naked on a hospital gurney. The flesh from his chest to his waist is charred black. One can only assume he is tortured by each breath as his burnt-crisp skin cracks and rips and separates with each inhalation. His sidelong glance at the camera is full of pain and anger.

There is a photograph of a young girl who chose to wear a turtleneck and jumper on the morning of her last day alive. She is lying on a blanket and looks like any other child taking an afternoon nap except that the top half of her head is missing, and torn, jagged pieces of hairy scalp hang limply over an empty brain case. Her brain is gone. The organ that gave her the ability to choose is drying in the sun-baked dust. Torture can no longer reach her.

There is a photograph of an adult-sized coffin. Inside the coffin are the bodies of three babies. One baby’s feet have been blown off. One baby died of a head wound. One baby is just dead, a pacifier hangs on a string around its neck. The bodies are so small that there is easily room in the coffin for another baby. Maybe they are waiting for a brother or sister or cousin to claim the space. Maybe the tortured parents if they are alive want to hold their baby for just a few moments more.

There is a photograph of the body of a young man being washed in preparation for burial. The body is naked except for a small towel at its midsection. There is no apparent wound. Maybe a single bullet killed him. The father has raised his son’s hand to his lips in a last tortured kiss. A brother cradles the young man’s head close to his own whispering his goodbye and, perhaps, promising vengeance, as brothers will.

There is a photograph of a woman. She is alive. A scarf covers her head. Her face is covered by her hand in a way recognizable to anyone who has ever been consumed by grief. Though the photograph cannot show it, her shoulders seem to heave as she gasps for breath in her mourning. Her tortured soul asks only one question. “Why?”

Why, indeed. Why did the photographs of April 2003 fail to incite a riot of moral outrage on the scale of the Abu Ghraib photographs of April 2004? The answer to that question and to the question asked by all tortured souls travels, I suspect, with the ghost of Cain.


Robert Weitzel lives in Middleton. E-mail: Most of the photographs described above can be accessed at: and

Published: 6:26 AM 6/03/04

Four British Soldiers to Face Iraqi Prisoner Abuse Charges
The Associated Press
Monday, June 14, 2004; 12:34 PM

LONDON — Four British soldiers will face courts-martial on charges of abusing prisoners in Iraq, Attorney General Lord Goldsmith said Monday.

He said the charges include allegations of “assault, indecent assault which apparently involves making the victims engage in sexual activity between themselves, and a military charge of prejudicing good order and military discipline.”

In a written statement to the House of Lords, he did not name the defendants or give the date of the alleged offenses, but said there was “photographic evidence” pertinent to the case.

The government said last week that military police are investigating 30 cases of alleged abuse, civilian deaths and injuries in Iraq. A further 37 probes had been completed and no further action was being taken.

Hearing Set for Woman in Iraq Abuse Case

Associated Press  (June 14)

FORT BRAGG, N.C. – A military court hearing for an Army reservist seen in some of the most notorious abuse photos from Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison will begin June 22, the military confirmed Monday.

Army reservist Pfc. Lynndie England, who is now stationed at Fort Bragg, appeared in photographs in which she pointed at Iraqi prisoners’ genitals and held a leash attached to a prisoner.

Six other soldiers also face military charges in the case.

England, 21, from Fort Ashby, W.Va., is charged with assaulting Iraqi detainees, conspiring with Spec. Charles Graner Jr. to mistreat the prisoners and committing an indecent act by forcing prisoners to masturbate. Graner is charged with adultery for having sex with England last October.

The Article 32 hearing, which will be held at Fort Bragg, is called by the commanding officer of a soldier’s unit to determine whether to recommend a court-martial or other punishment. It is similar to a civilian grand jury.

England has said in her only public interview, broadcast by a Denver television station, that her superiors gave her specific instructions on how to pose for the photos, which were for so-called “psychological operations.” Asked who gave the orders, she would say only, “Persons in my chain of command.”

from the Los Angeles Times


Web Amplifies Message of Killings

Terrorists are reaching into homes around the world with images of beheadings in Mideast.

By Lynn Smith
Times Staff Writer

June 30, 2004

The first time she felt numb. The second time she cried. Lillian Glass, a Beverly Hills psychologist, was stunned at the barbarity of terrorists beheading their hostages, right there on her computer screen. Equally surprising was how easily she found the video online.

“You can’t imagine anything worse,” she says. “Right now, they’re coming into your home. It’s like they’re using technology as a vehicle for war.”

Ritual beheading is as primitive as war gets. But 21st century technology is making the grisly details of such killings visible to millions around the world.

In what has become a war of images, the slayings of businessman Nicholas Berg, engineer Paul M. Johnson Jr. and South Korean interpreter Kim Sun Il have been publicized through both conventional media channels and the raw, unfiltered chambers of the Internet.

It is impossible to say how many people have watched the videos over the Internet. But “Nick Berg” was the second most popular search request on Google in May, following “American Idol.” Last week, the most popular search was for “Paul Johnson.”

FBI Supervisory Special Agent Kenneth McGuire, who oversees the cyber-crime squad in Los Angeles, says that disseminating video of such violent acts over the Internet is a new form of cyber-terrorism — one proving difficult to contain.

Some Internet services have tried to shut down sites that host such videos, but the images continue to flow. Over the weekend there were new kidnappings and threats of beheading, and with them, the possibility of more videos to come.

Publicizing their atrocities has always been part of the strategy for Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, says Josh Devon, an analyst at the SITE Institute in Washington, which tracks terrorist activities.

“The point of terrorism is to strike fear and cause havoc — and that doesn’t happen unless you have media to support that action and show it to as many people as they can,” Devon says. Terrorists used to circulate propaganda via publications and audio- or videotapes, but the Internet has supplanted those methods. “Suddenly, it’s not only text, but pictures and video and audio clips which are attacking all the senses at once,” he says.

In the United States, news executives who traditionally draw the line at depicting the most graphic war violence now face a media landscape where millions get unfiltered images on the Internet almost instantaneously. By posting digital video or photos on the Web, terrorist groups make it almost certain that the news media will air at least some of the images.

Robert Thompson, director of Syracuse University’s Center for the Study of Popular Culture, says that poses complicated questions. Do media outlets limit themselves, knowing the videos are widely available? Or do they show everything and run the risk of doing exactly what the terrorists wanted?

“In essence, the terrorists are directing a movie for the world to see,” Thompson says, “yet the media has to cover it, and the world does in fact see it.”

Many networks and news sites obtained the full video of Berg’s killing from the website of a militant Islamic group but used only a fraction of it. Most opted for footage of victims kneeling in front of captors before the executions. Last week, such images popped up repeatedly as teasers to TV news programs and on Internet news sites.

“If people can’t watch, we’ve lost our ability to convey information,” says Neal Shapiro, president of NBC News.

Yet the overwhelming online interest in such images belies the notion of viewer squeamishness. For reasons that may include a simple desire to keep up with the news, morbid curiosity or salaciousness, people are digging past the mainstream news sites to find the raw footage.

Any news stories containing graphic violence — including the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, Iraq, and the attacks on four American civilians in Fallouja — prompt an “astronomical” spike in photo and video viewing online, says Michael Sims, news director for

In recent months, he says, “we’ve really been forced to sit down and talk through the issues and decide for ourselves where the lines are. To tell the story, not sugarcoat it, but not be offensive.”

Almost anyone with a digital camera and a laptop can upload images, Devon says. Terrorists in many cases are using U.S. technology and Web hosting services for these digital attacks, he says, noting that Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system comes with video editing software. The point of origin for files uploaded to a Web page is “virtually untraceable,” he says.

The websites don’t last long — they often are shut down within 24 hours because of user complaints. A GeoCities page with photos of Johnson’s beheading in Saudi Arabia collapsed within three hours. But in this case the reason was that the site was overwhelmed by the number of users trying to access the communique and photos, Devon says.

By that time, the images had been downloaded, copied and passed on. Now they easily can be found along with the other beheadings via any Web search engine.

Not everyone buys the explanation, posted by one website, that it aims to “discourage” terrorists by showing how evil they are. Tom Kunkel, president of American Journalism Review, called the justification a “fig leaf.”

“Any news outlet — or any private individual, for that matter — who makes available footage of the actual beheadings is, to my mind, an accessory to the crime itself,” says Kunkel, dean of journalism at the University of Maryland. “Those are the individuals who are essentially finishing the work of the terrorists, by delivering their grisly ‘message.’ ”

Some viewers have been hit hard. Psychologists say they’re getting responses that vary from depression and feelings of vulnerability to outrage and the desire for revenge.

“I’m hearing colleagues saying they should go and cut [the terrorists’] heads off,” says Anie Kalayjian, a Fordham University psychology professor who specializes in disasters and mass trauma. Some Vietnam veterans she counsels — both perpetrators and victims of brutality — are experiencing nightmares and flashbacks, symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, she says.

Beheading is a powerfully brutal act that taps into very primal human fears, Kalayjian says. Watching video — on TV or the Internet — can trigger symptoms in the same way seeing the act in person can. “Now we’re not just reading it in the newspaper. We’re seeing the process, hearing the outcries, the suffering, pain and terror,” she says.

Some regret their decision to look. Writing in New York magazine, forensic pathologist Jonathan Hayes said he clicked on a link to video of the beheading of Berg out of a desire to see the true nature of the war and a sense of “professional curiosity.”

Not only did the video unleash feelings of fury, despair and revenge, it also left him unable to detach himself from his work, which had involved recovering bodies from the World Trade Center after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. “I wish I hadn’t made that choice: to look at something I have managed to avoid seeing, while looking at it every day,” he wrote.

Glass also sought out the Internet videos because she thought they were an important part of the news. She says she will be haunted by the images forever. But still, she says, she’s glad she watched.

“At least I’m more informed, and I know what these people are capable of. We’re seeing how primitive, how demented, how inhumane this behavior is.”

Worse, in some ways, was hearing Kim’s gut-wrenching pleas for his life — screams she already knew were useless — over the radio. Glass says they came repeatedly, and each time unexpectedly, every time ABC Radio talk show host Sean Hannity cut for a commercial.

A spokesman for the show said warnings were given upfront that the material might be disturbing.

To Glass, that type of broadcast went too far. “It sickened me. You felt his fear. It was chilling to every part of your body.”

Copyright © 2004, The Los Angeles Times

July 8, 2004

Americans Object to War Images Online


Associated Press

NEW YORK – Half of Americans object to the online availability of graphic war images, though millions have actively sought them out, a new study finds.

In a report released Thursday, the Pew Internet and American Life Project also found a major cultural divide: Men, Democrats and younger Americans were more likely to approve of having such images on the Web.

Television, newspapers and the Web sites of mainstream media outlets generally refrained from using the most graphic images of Iraqi prisoner abuses and the killings of Nicholas Berg and other Americans in Iraq.

But photos and even video could be readily found elsewhere – at anti-war sites, Web journals, the Drudge Report and discussion boards frequented by sympathizers of terror groups.

According to the study, 24 percent of adult Internet users, or 30 million people, have seen such graphic images online, and 28 percent of those people actively sought them out. That comes out to more than 8 million active seekers.

Yet overall, Americans disapprove of the postings by a margin of 49 percent to 40 percent. Another 4 percent say approval depends on circumstances, while the rest wouldn’t say or have no opinion.

A third of the Americans who saw the images – some 10 million – regret doing so.

Sree Sreenivasan, a Columbia University online media professor who is not connected with the study, said Americans aren’t always prepared for what they click, even though many links carry warnings about the images’ graphic nature.

“Our experiences on the Internet are built upon experiences with previous media,” he said. “What’s graphic in most people’s minds is a slasher movie or a Sopranos episode with a beheading. Those don’t prepare you for how graphic (these images) could be.”

Lee Rainie, director of the Pew study, said Americans generally embrace the principle that more information is better, “but once they encounter real-life applications of that principle, in many cases, they are unhappy.” cloaked the more disturbing images with a black “curtain” carrying a warning before visitors click. But the most graphic images were left off the site entirely, consistent with NBC broadcast guidelines, said Dean Wright, the site’s editor in chief.

“We want our Web site to be a place where the mainstream news consumer can feel safer,” he said.

He said a small number of visitors complained that the site was censoring the reality of war, just as a small group complained that even the moderate images were too much. But he said visitors were overall happy with MSNBC’s judgment calls.

According to the random telephone-based survey of 2,200 adult Americans, conducted May 14 to June 17:

_Internet users approve of the images’ availability by 47 percent to 44 percent, which is within the margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. Only 29 percent of non-users approve having the photos, while 58 percent disapprove.

_Fifty-three percent of men approve, compared with 29 percent among women.

_Fifty-two percent of adults under 30 approve, while only 31 percent of those 50 or over do.

_Fifty-two percent of Democrats and 53 percent of independents were OK with having the images, compared with 42 percent of Republicans.


Posted on Fri, Aug. 20, 2004

Doctors, medics played role in Iraq prison abuse, UM prof says

ABU GHRAIB:A bioethicist’s study finds evidence that doctors and medics covered up homicides, hid beatings.



Doctors working for the U.S. military in Iraq collaborated with interrogators in the abuse of prisoners at Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison, profoundly breaching medical ethics and human rights, a bioethicist charges in the Lancet medical journal.

In a scathing analysis of the behavior of military doctors, nurses and medics, University of Minnesota professor Steven Miles calls for a reform of military medicine and an official investigation into the role played by physicians and other medical staff in the torture scandal.

He cites evidence that doctors or medics falsified death certificates to cover up homicides, hid evidence of beatings and revived a prisoner so he could be further tortured. No reports of abuses were initiated by medical personnel until the official investigation into Abu Ghraib began, he found.

“The medical system collaborated with designing and implementing psychologically and physically coercive interrogations,” Miles said in this week’s edition of Lancet. “Army officials stated that a physician and a psychiatrist helped design, approve and monitor interrogations at Abu Ghraib.”

The analysis does not shed light on how many doctors were involved or how widespread the problem of medical complicity was, aspects that Miles said he is now investigating.

A U.S. military spokesman said the incidents recounted by Miles came primarily from the Pentagon’s own investigation of the abuses.

“Many of these cases remain under investigation and charges will be brought against any individual where there is evidence of abuse,” said Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, U.S. Army spokesman for prison operations in Iraq.

In a related matter, two military officials in Washington said Thursday that a high-level Army inquiry will cite medical personnel who knew of abuse at Abu Ghraib but did not report it up the chain of command. The inquiry also will criticize senior U.S. commanders for a lack of leadership that allowed abuses to occur, but finds no evidence they ordered the abuse, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Photographs of prisoners being abused and humiliated by U.S. troops in Iraq have sparked worldwide condemnation. Although the conduct of soldiers has been scrutinized, the role of medical staff in the scandal has received relatively little attention.

“The detaining power’s health personnel are the first and often the last line of defense against human rights abuses. Their failure to assume that role emphasizes to the prisoner how utterly beyond humane appeal they are,” Miles said.

He said military medicine reform needs to be enshrined in international law and include more clout for military medical staff in the defense of human rights.

Miles gathered evidence from U.S. congressional hearings, sworn statements of prisoners and soldiers, medical journal accounts and news reports to build a picture of physician complicity, and in isolated cases active participation by medical personnel in abuse at the Baghdad prison, as well as in Afghanistan and at the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba.

In one example, cited in a sworn statement from an Abu Ghraib prisoner, another prisoner collapsed and was apparently unconscious after a beating. Medical staff revived the prisoner and left, allowing the abuse to continue, Miles reported.

Depositions from two prisoners at Abu Ghraib described an incident in which a doctor allowed a medically untrained guard to sew up a prisoner’s wound.

A military police officer reported a medic inserted an intravenous tube into the corpse of a prisoner who died while being tortured to create evidence that he was alive at the hospital, Miles said.

At prisons in both Iraq and Afghanistan, “Physicians routinely attributed detainee deaths on death certificates to heart attacks, heat stroke or natural causes without noting the unnatural (cause) of the death,” Miles wrote.

He cites an example from a Human Rights Watch report in which soldiers tied a beaten prisoner to the top of his cell door and gagged him. The death certificate indicated he died of “natural causes… during his sleep.” However, after media coverage, the Pentagon changed the cause of death to homicide by blunt force injuries and suffocation.

In his article, Miles dismissed Pentagon officials putting the blame for the abuse on poor training, understaffing, racism, pressure to procure intelligence and the stress of war.

“Fundamentally, however, the stage for these offenses was set by policies that were lax or permissive with regard to human rights abuses, and a military command that was inattentive to human rights,” Miles concluded.

photo credit and caption:

Sgt. Charles Graner of the 372nd Military Police Company poses with the body of a dead Iraqi man packed in ice in this undated photo, released by ABC News May 19, 2004 and allegedly taken by Sgt. Charles Frederick at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, Iraq. According to testimony obtained by ABC from Spc. Jason Kennel, who is not accused of wrongdoing, the man died while in custody of U.S. authorities at the prison. Graner is among four soldiers facing hearings for the alleged abuse of Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison at the U.S. military court at Taylor Barracks in Mannheim, southern Germany, beginning Monday, Aug. 23, 2004. (AP Photo/ABC News)
Abu Ghraib Report Faults Top Officials
Rumsfeld, Senior Pentagon Officials Share Blame for Prisoner Abuse Scandal, According to Report

The Associated Press
WASHINGTON Aug. 24, 2004 — The Pentagon’s most senior civilian and military officials share a portion of blame for creating conditions that led to the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq, according to a new report.The report, by a commission appointed by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, was briefing Rumsfeld on its findings and recommendations Tuesday in advance of a Pentagon news conference to release the details. The commission was headed by James Schlesinger, a former secretary of defense.

A person familiar with the report said it implicitly faulted Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, by finding that those responsible for the military prison system in Iraq were operating under confusing policies on allowable interrogation techniques. The person discussed some aspects of the report on condition of anonymity.

The question of how high responsibility for the abuse goes continues to be one of the central unanswered questions in the scandal and it is key to the ongoing criminal cases against several low-ranking military police soldiers charged with mistreatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib.

The U.S. military judge hearing the Abu Ghraib abuse case in Mannheim, Germany, said Tuesday that prosecutors have until Sept. 17 to file charges against top military intelligence commanders or he would consider forcing them to testify under a grant of immunity.

The judge, Col. James Pohl, also rejected a request from the attorney for Spc. Javal Davis for Rumsfeld and his chief deputy for intelligence, Stephen Cambone, to submit to an interview, but said the request could be brought back if the defense can fill in some of the gaps.

“There’s got to be some links in that chain,” Pohl said.

Davis and the five other military police accused of abusing prisoners at the prison near Baghdad insist they were following orders from military intelligence officers and civilian contractors. A seventh soldier, Spc. Jeremy C. Sivits of Hyndman, Pa., pleaded guilty May 19 to taking pictures of naked prisoners and was sentenced to a year in prison.

None of the investigations has found that Rumsfeld or Myers ordered or encouraged any mistreatment of prisoners. In May, Rumsfeld told the House and Senate that as secretary of defense “I am accountable” for the events at Abu Ghraib and he issued “my deepest apologies” to the Iraqis who were abused.

Also faulted by the Schlesinger commission is Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, who was the top field commander in Iraq at the time of the reported abuses last fall.

Sanchez also takes a portion of the blame in a separate Army investigation which looked specifically at the role of military intelligence soldiers. That probe has been completed and is expected to be publicly released as early as Wednesday.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan, with President Bush at the president’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, had no immediate comment on the Schlesinger report.

“I think we’ll wait until we see the full report,” McClellan said. “I fully expect the president will be briefed on any and all reports from these investigations.”

The Army report, initially headed by Maj. Gen. George Fay, says at least two dozen lower-ranking military intelligence soldiers, as well as civilian contractors, were responsible for the abuses, which were depicted in photographs and videos taken by U.S. soldiers.

The New York Times said in Tuesday editions the report also blames Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski commander of the 800th Military Police Brigade at Abu Ghraib for faulty leadership. She has been faulted in other investigation reports but has denied knowing about any abuses until they become public.

The Schlesinger commission interviewed Rumsfeld twice during its investigation, which began in May. The three other commission members are former defense secretary Harold Brown, former Republican Rep. Tillie Fowler of Florida, and retired Air Force Gen. Charles Horner.

When he chartered the commission, Rumsfeld told its members that he wanted independent advice on a wide range of issues related to the abuse allegations. “I am especially interested in your views on the cause of the problems and what should be done to fix them,” he wrote at the time.

Fay’s investigation concluded that Sanchez failed to deal with rising problems at the prison as he tried to manage 150,000 troops countering an unexpected insurgency. But Sanchez will not be recommended for any punitive action or even a letter of reprimand, a Pentagon official told the Washington Post.

The Army report also says soldiers used police dogs to intimidate Iraqi detainees as young as 15, the Post said.

Handlers have told investigators that the use of unmuzzled military police dogs was sanctioned by top military intelligence officers. But the new report will show that MPs were using their animals to threaten detainees as part of an unusual competition among themselves not in accordance with intelligence officers the Post reported, citing a Pentagon source.

Both reports will be reviewed by the Senate Armed Services Committee in hearings scheduled for Sept. 9.


Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


August 27, 2004


Army’s Report Faults General in Prison Abuse


WASHINGTON, Aug. 26 – Classified parts of the report by three Army generals on the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison say Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the former top commander in Iraq, approved the use in Iraq of some severe interrogation practices intended to be limited to captives held in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and Afghanistan.

Moreover, the report contends, by issuing and revising the rules for interrogations in Iraq three times in 30 days, General Sanchez and his legal staff sowed such confusion that interrogators acted in ways that violated the Geneva Conventions, which they understood poorly anyway.

Military officials and others in the Bush administration have repeatedly said the Geneva Conventions applied to all prisoners in Iraq, even though members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban held in Afghanistan and Guantánamo did not, in their estimation, fall under the conventions.

But classified passages of the Army report say the procedures approved by General Sanchez on Sept. 14, 2003, and the revisions made when the Central Command found fault with the initial policy, exceeded the Geneva guidelines as well as standard Army doctrines.

General Sanchez and his aides have previously described the series of orders he issued, although not in as much detail as the latest report, which was released Wednesday with a few classified sections omitted. They have described his order of Oct. 12 as rescinding his order of Sept. 14.

But the Army’s latest review instead finds that the later order “confused doctrine and policy even further,” a classified part of the report says. It says the memorandum, while not authorizing abuse, effectively opened the way at Abu Ghraib last fall for interrogation techniques that Pentagon investigators have characterized as abusive, in dozens of cases involving dozens of soldiers at the prison in Iraq.

The techniques approved by General Sanchez exceeded those advocated in a standard Army field manual that provided the basic guidelines for interrogation procedures. But they were among those previously approved by the Pentagon for use in Afghanistan and Cuba, and were recommended to General Sanchez and his staff in the summer of 2003 in memorandums sent by a team headed by Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, a commander at Guantánamo who had been sent to Iraq by senior Pentagon officials, and by a military intelligence unit that had served in Afghanistan and was taking charge of interrogations at Abu Ghraib.

The report says the abusive techniques not sufficiently prohibited by General Sanchez included isolation and the use of dogs in interrogation. It says military police and military intelligence soldiers who used those practices believed they had been authorized by senior commanders.

“At Abu Ghraib, isolation conditions sometimes included being kept naked in very hot or very cold, small rooms, and/or completely darkened rooms, clearly in violation of the Geneva Conventions,” a classified part of the report said.

The passages involving General Sanchez’s orders were among several deleted from the version of the report by Maj. Gen. George R. Fay that was made public by the Pentagon on Wednesday.

Classified parts of the 171-page report were provided to The New York Times by a senior Defense Department official who said fuller disclosure of the findings would help public understanding of the causes of the prisoner abuse scandal.

Army officials said Thursday that some sections of the report had been marked secret because they referred to policy memorandums that were still classified.

But the report’s discussion of the September and October orders, while critical of General Sanchez and his staff, do not disclose many new details of the orders and do not appear to contain sensitive material about interrogations or other intelligence-gathering methods.

They do show in much clearer detail than ever before how interrogation practices from Afghanistan and Guantánamo were brought to Abu Ghraib, and how poorly the nuances of what was acceptable in Iraq were understood by military intelligence officials in Iraq.

The classified sections of the Fay report reinforce criticisms made in another report, by the independent panel headed by James R. Schlesinger, the former defense secretary.

That panel argued that General Sanchez’s actions effectively amounted to an unauthorized suspension of the Geneva Conventions in Iraq by categorizing prisoners there as unlawful combatants.

The Schlesinger panel described that reasoning as “understandable,” but said General Sanchez and his staff should have recognized that they were “lacking specific authorization to operate beyond the confines of the Geneva Convention.”

In an interview on Thursday with reporters and editors of The Times, Gen. Paul J. Kern, the senior officer who supervised General Fay’s work, said the Fay inquiry had not addressed whether General Sanchez was authorized to designate detainees in Iraq as unlawful combatants, as the administration has treated prisoners in Afghanistan.

A secret passage in the report, though, says that with General Sanchez’s first order, on Sept. 14, national policies and those of his command “collided, introducing ambiguities and inconsistencies in policy and practice,” adding, “Policies and practices developed and approved for use on Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees who were not afforded the protection of the Geneva Conventions now applied to detainees who did fall under the Geneva Conventions’ protections.” It goes on to cite several further problems with the order.

Asked whether General Sanchez’s actions opened the door to use of interrogation techniques from Afghanistan, General Kern said, “He didn’t close the door, and he should have.”

Together, the Schlesinger and Fay reports spell out the sharpest criticism of missteps by American commanders in Iraq involving what they described as a crucial question of making clear to soldiers what was permitted and what was not in interrogation of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

General Sanchez and his deputies have always maintained that the only approaches they authorized for use in Iraq were consistent with the Geneva Conventions, which spell out rules for the treatment of prisoners of war and other combatants. They have said the directive issued by General Sanchez in October had made it clear that the use of dogs and isolation could be used in interrogations only with the general’s approval.

“Interrogators at Abu Ghraib used both dogs and isolation as interrogation practices,” a classified part of the report said. “The manner in which they were used on some occasions clearly violated the Geneva Conventions.”

The classified section of the Fay report also sheds new light on the role played by a secretive Special Operations Forces/Central Intelligence Agency task force that operated in Iraq and Afghanistan as a source of interrogation procedures that were put into effect at Abu Ghraib. It says that a July 15, 2003, “Battlefield Interrogation Team and Facility Policy,” drafted by use by Joint Task Force 121, which was given the task of locating former government members in Iraq, was adopted “almost verbatim” by the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion, which played a leading role in interrogations at Abu Ghraib.

That task force policy endorsed the use of stress positions during harsh interrogation procedures, the use of dogs, yelling, loud music, light control, isolation and other procedures used previously in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Those measures were initially authorized by General Sanchez for use in Iraq in his September memorandum, then revoked in the policy he issued a month later, but not in a way understood by interrogators at Abu Ghraib to have banned those practices, the classified version of the Fay report said.

Among those who believed, incorrectly, that the use of dogs in interrogations could be approved without General Sanchez’s approval was Col. Thomas M. Pappas, the commander of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, the report said.

“Dogs as an interrogation tool should have been specifically excluded,” a classified section of the report said. It criticized General Sanchez for not having fully considered “the implications for interrogation policy,” and said the manner in which interrogators at Abu Ghraib used both dogs and isolations as interrogation practices “on some occasions clearly violated the Geneva Conventions.”

The role played by members of the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion, from Fort Bragg, N.C., some of whom were identified as having taken part in the abuses, is given particular attention in the classified parts of the report.

Members of the unit had earlier served in Afghanistan, where some were implicated in the deaths of two detainees that are still under investigation, and the report says commanders should have heeded more carefully the danger that members of the unit might again be involved in abusive behavior.

The unit had worked closely with Special Operations Forces in Afghanistan, and “at same point” it “came to possess the JTF-121 interrogation policy” used by the joint Special Operations/C.I.A. teams, the classified section of the report says.

Sept.3, 2004

Marine convicted of abusing Iraqi prisoners but cleared in man’s death


Associated Press

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – The military jury that convicted a Marine reservist of dereliction of duty and abuse of prisoners at a detention center nicknamed the “terrordome” was to return to court to determine his sentence.

Sentencing deliberations were to begin Friday for Marine Sgt. Gary Pittman, who was convicted Thursday of one count each of dereliction of duty and abuse. He faces a maximum sentence of nine months in prison and a dishonorable discharge.

Pittman was cleared of two other charges Thursday, including abusing a 52-year-old Iraqi man who died in custody.

His jury is comprised of officers ranging in rank from captain to colonel, including eight who served in Iraq.

Pittman’s wife cried as the nine-man jury’s verdict was read following just four hours of deliberation. The Marine reservist, wearing a khaki-and-green uniform adorned with his service ribbons, stood without reaction.

He embraced his wife and attorney before leaving the courtroom accompanied by his brother, an Army major. He didn’t stop to speak with reporters.

The 40-year-old reservist, who is a federal prison guard in New York in his civilian life, was activated last year and sent to Camp Whitehorse in southern Iraq.

Pittman, who took the stand Wednesday to say he never assaulted a prisoner, was the only witnesses to testify that he never saw any abuses at the makeshift lockup that has since been closed. A military prosecutor, Maj. Leon Francis, called it the “terrordome,” a reference to words a Marine had spray-painted on a guard barracks there.

Prosecutors said Pittman karate-kicked Nagem Hatab in the chest more than a day before the Iraqi detainee was found dead in a dusty camp yard. During his nine-day court-martial, they called several Marines who testified that Pittman and other guards kneed, kicked and hit handcuffed prisoners.

Three witnesses testified that they saw Pittman punch, knee and kick prisoners, including a local Muslim cleric, as well as Hatab and other unnamed prisoners. Others said Pittman only used force in response to inmate aggression.

Francis told jurors the case was basically a “whodunnit,” requiring them to sift through a contradictory mix of lies and half-truths from the Camp Whitehorse guards, most of whom came from a New York-based reserve unit.

“In the … terrordome, there are no angels as witnesses,” Francis said. “When it came to Mr. Hatab and the prisoners that were abused there, it was hell on Earth.”

John Tranberg, Pittman’s civilian defense attorney, countered that Pittman and other reservist guards were thrust into a war zone in order to run an enemy prisoner of war camp with no training and almost no support. They used only the force necessary to handle the Arabic speaking rapists and murderers who were also held at Camp Whitehorse, Tranberg said.

“If you’ve got to grab somebody by the back of the neck to move them is that a strike? Technically, is it excessive force? No,” Tranberg said.

Pfc. William Roy, the prosecution’s star witness and a direct subordinate of Pittman, testified that he and the Marine sergeant gave Hatab a fierce beating because they believed he had sold a rifle taken during the ambush of a U.S. Army convoy that killed 11 U.S. soldiers and led to the capture of Pfc. Jessica Lynch.

Roy, who accepted a demotion as part of a plea deal, was denounced by the defense as a liar out to save his own skin. The prosecution maintained his account was so full of detail that it was clearly true.

According to Roy, Hatab said in English “Why? Why? Why? No. No. My children. My children.”

An autopsy found Hatab had six broken ribs, as well as several deep bruises, and apparently died from suffocation caused by a broken bone in his throat.

Roy acknowledged that he once grabbed Hatab by the throat, and there was testimony that another guard dragged Hatab 40 feet by his neck to an outside holding area because a bout of diarrhea had left him covered in feces.

A general court-martial is scheduled to begin later this month for Maj. Clarke Paulus, who allegedly ordered Hatab dragged, while Whitehorse base commander Maj. Michael Froeder faces charges of negligence and abuse of prisoners.

The Center for Public Integrity has obtained classified background
materials from the Army report on Abu Ghraib that describe in detail
attacks, prisoner riots, interrogation methods and the torture and death
of detainees. These documents, along with reports about the documents,
will be released in two parts beginning today, October 8, at

Panel: U.S. newspapers running more tragic photos in wake of 9/1106:13 PM EDT on Saturday, October 16, 2004

Associated Press


Whether the photos show charred bodies of Americans or naked Iraqis in a military prison, domestic newspapers are more likely to publish such graphic images since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a panel of journalists said Friday.

“Since 9/11, I think there is probably a moving standard, a changing standard for the sorts of pictures we will run in the paper,” said Chris Peck, editor of The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tenn.

Peck was moderator of a discussion about “tough calls in photojournalism” at a joint session of the Associated Press Managing Editors and the Associated Press Photo Managers annual conferences.

Jacqueline Larma, a photographer for The Associated Press in Philadelphia and one of the panelists, said American newspapers are now running the kinds of photographs that formerly would appear only in Asia, Europe or South America.

“I think you’re right that in the post-9/11 era, since war came to this soil, that these photos have become much more relevant,” she told Peck.

That’s not to say the decisions to publish some of the photographs come easily.

Joe Elbert, assistant managing editor/photography for The Washington Post, said photographs that go into his newspaper are weighed by editors before a decision is made to run them. Those that have an “ooh factor” receive extra attention.

Elbert said his newspaper decided to run photographs of the Iraqi prisoners because of their news value and because they were evidence that showed the treatment the prisoners had received.

“If I have a goal, it’s to have an image that is going to communicate on the page,” Elbert said. “But it’s subjective.”

Suki Dardarian, an assistant managing editor at The Seattle Times , said another factor enters into the decision: What other outlets have a particular photograph and when will they use it.

“That’s constantly on our minds,” she said.

Panelists said that photographs of terrorists standing around hostages have lost their interest to domestic newspapers.

“I don’t see the benefit of running any of these photos,” said Ruben Ramirez, photo editor at the El Paso Times in Texas. “In serving our readers, we need to show some type of compassion to those families.”

Peck said journalists should base decisions on publishing photographs on defined values and that they should exercise principles of good journalism and of reasoning.

“In most newspapers the tough photo decisions are discussed, and they’re discussed every time,” Peck said. “In your newsroom, if they aren’t being discussed, they should be.”

Journalists on a separate panel debated the value of celebrity news.

Lorrie Lynch, a columnist with USA Weekend, said covering celebrity news helps newspapers broaden coverage and bring in new readers.

“I think if we don’t embrace celebrity as a way to bring in readers … we’re foolish,” Lynch said.

Roger Gillespie, managing editor of The Hamilton Spectator of Ontario, Canada, said his editors saw celebrity coverage as a way to bring in women readers. The newspaper now devotes a full page each day to celebrity and Hollywood news.

“Papers today aren’t broad enough,” Gillespie said.

The panel included celebrity photographer Kevin Mazur; and Dee Wallace Stone, a star of the movie E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial who participated in the panel via satellite.

Stone suggested that celebrity coverage in tabloids and magazines has become too intrusive.

“Our dignity and lack of respect has been overstepped,” said Stone, an author who also runs a Hollywood acting studio.

Lynch said newspapers should practice “credible gossip,” or following the same guidelines as reporters who cover hard news: fact-checking and multiple sourcing.

Borrowing an idea from the military, APME invited “embedded readers” to attend the conference to suggest ways that newspapers might improve. Those invited had been on reader advisory panels at various papers across the country.

In a panel discussion Friday afternoon, they suggested less “flesh” and more news, saying they want newspapers to print hard news and not take on the role of MTV or supermarket tabloids.

“It sort of pained me a little that we have to lower our standards to reach the youth,” said Bertha Ortega, an assistant vice president at Heritage University in Yakima, Wash.

The readers also said they came away from the conference with a fresh perspective about journalists.

“I’ve gotten a tremendous amount of respect for the jobs that you all do,” said Oscar S. Lizardi, an attorney in Tucson, Ariz. “You’re living history. It’s amazing to me.”


Associated Press writer Dylan T. Lovan contributed to this report.

American soldier gets 8 years for abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib
08:29 PM EDT Oct 21

BAGHDAD (AP) – The highest-ranking U.S. soldier charged in the Abu Ghraib prison case was sentenced Thursday to eight years in prison, the severest punishment so far in the scandal that broke in April with the publication of photos and video showing Americans humiliating and abusing naked Iraqis.

Staff Sgt. Ivan (Chip) Frederick’s civilian lawyer, Gary Myers, called the sentence “excessive” and argued that the military command was at fault for failing to train his client – a veteran military policeman and a corrections officer in civilian life – and for failing to address the horrid conditions at the prison on the western outskirts of Baghdad.

The abuses occurred at a time when American intelligence officers were under strong pressure to gather as much information as possible on the burgeoning insurgency, which threatens the entire U.S. mission in Iraq. Since then, the insurgency has spread throughout Sunni Muslim areas of the country, engulfing regions which were relatively safe for Americans and other westerners only a few months ago.

On Thursday, gunmen ambushed a bus carrying Iraqi women to their jobs at Baghdad International Airport, killing one and wounding 14. Three people who worked in Prime Minister Ayad Allawi’s office were killed and a fourth was wounded in an ambush in western Baghdad. Also, mortars fell near the Iraqi leader on a visit to Mosul.

In addition to his prison sentence, Frederick, 38, of Buckingham, Va., was reduced in rank to private, ordered to forfeit pay and given a dishonourable discharge under a plea agreement that requires him to testify against others charged with abusing Iraqi detainees. All military verdicts are subject to appeal.

Frederick pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy, dereliction of duty, maltreatment of detainees, assault and committing an indecent act.

He admitted that he forced one group of detainees to masturbate publicly and later piled them into a naked, human pyramid. During another infamous incident captured on photos seen around the world, Frederick said he and other guards hooked wires on the hands and feet of a hooded detainee who was told to stand on a box or else be electrocuted.

Photos and a video taken by the soldiers were submitted as evidence during the trial. Frederick said he snapped the photos “just to take back home.”

“He’s an adult capable of making decisions,” the prosecutor, Maj. Michael Holley, said. “He’s an adult and capable of telling, as we learned, the difference between right and wrong. How much training do you need to learn that it’s wrong to force a man to masturbate?”

Frederick admitted that what he did was wrong but told the court Wednesday that when he complained to his superiors, “they told me to do what MI told me to do,” referring to military intelligence.

The attack on the busload of Iraqi Airways employees occurred on the main highway linking Baghdad International Airport with the centre of the city. The highway is now a favoured ambush site and has been described by the U.S. State Department as among the most dangerous in the country.

U.S. and Iraqi authorities want to curb the violence in order to hold elections in January throughout the country, including Sunni insurgent strongholds such as Fallujah and Ramadi.

On Thursday, the British government agreed to a U.S. request to transfer 850 British troops of the First Battalion, Black Watch Regiment from southern Iraq to an area near Baghdad so U.S. troops could be shifted to insurgent hotspots.

The agreement came despite fierce opposition from British legislators who saw it as a political gift to U.S. President George W. Bush ahead of November elections.

Fallujah leaders Thursday called on Allawi’s government to pursue a peaceful solution to the military standoff around the city and order a halt to frequent U.S. air strikes.

But fresh clashes erupted Thursday night between U.S. marines and insurgents in the rebel bastion.

Community leaders also issued a list of other demands, including compensation for damaged property and withdrawing U.S. troops from the city’s outskirts. Fallujah leaders want any Iraqi military units which deploy into the city to consist exclusively of Fallujah natives, something the government has refused.

During a visit Thursday to northern Mosul to discuss security and reconstruction, several mortars fell about two blocks from Allawi’s convoy, setting off a small blaze and plumes of smoke. No casualties were reported.

The Abu Ghraib Supplementary Documents
New installment of classified documents shows abuses at other prison

WASHINGTON, October 31, 2004 – Classified documents, obtained and posted
by the Center for Public Integrity, reveal the extent to which problems
at Abu Ghraib prison were mirrored in other confinement camps in Iraq.
Above all, what emerges from the documents is a picture of troops tasked
beyond their ability, lacking adequate training, support or supplies and
hampered by inadequate or non-existent communication across different
units and levels of command.

This second group of documents, including but not limited to supplements
from Major General Anthony Taguba’s investigation into the abuse of
detainees, offer one of the most revealing accounts to date of the
several prison camps run by the U.S. military in Iraq and Kuwait.

To read the full report go to

Memo Ordered Silence in Iraqi Abuse Case


Published: December 8, 2004

Filed at 10:55 a.m. ET

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — U.S. special operations forces accused of abusing prisoners in Iraq warned defense intelligence personnel not to talk about the alleged mistreatment they saw, according to a government memo to a top adviser of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

In the memo written June 25 after the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal had gone public, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency complained about the harassment of DIA personnel, including one case where special forces confiscated photos of a prisoner they had punched.


Defense intelligence workers also had their e-mail messages monitored and were ordered by a special operations task force “not to talk to anyone” about what they saw, said the memo, which was among internal documents released Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Prisoners arriving at a detention center in Baghdad had “burn marks on their backs” as well as bruises and some complained of kidney pain, Vice Admiral Lowell E. Jacoby, the defense intelligence chief, wrote to Stephen Cambone, Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence.

Jacoby also told Cambone that special operations task force members also confiscated the car keys of defense intelligence personnel and ordered them not to leave the base.

FBI agents also reported seeing detainees at Abu Ghraib subjected to sleep deprivation, humiliation and forced nudity between October and December 2003 — when the most serious abuses allegedly took place in a scandal that remains under investigation.

The release of the ACLU documents came a day after The Associated Press reported that a senior FBI official wrote a letter to the Army’s top criminal investigator complaining about “highly aggressive” interrogation techniques at the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo Bay dating back to 2002 — more than a year before the scandal broke at the Iraqi prison.

The memos and letter reveal behind-the-scenes tensions between the FBI and U.S. military and intelligence task forces running prisoner interrogations at Guantanamo and in Iraq as the Bush administration sought better intelligence to fight terrorists and the deadly Iraq insurgency.

“These documents tell a damning story of sanctioned government abuse — a story that the government has tried to hide and may well come back to haunt our own troops captured in Iraq,” said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the New York-based ACLU.

The documents were released only after a federal court ordered the Pentagon and other government agencies to comply with a year-old request filed under the Freedom of Information Act filed by the ACLU, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Physicians for Human Rights, Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans for Peace.

A spokesman for U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida, which directs special military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, declined to comment on specific allegations.

“We take all issues of detainee abuse very seriously and where there is the potential that these abuses could have taken place, we investigate them,” Navy Lt. Cmdr. Nick Balice said.

Balice refused to describe the task force, which could include Army Rangers, Delta Force, Navy SEALs and other special operations forces soldiers working with CIA operatives.

Joe Navarro, a retired FBI agent who teaches interrogation techniques to the military and is familiar with interrogations at Guantanamo, said using threats only stands to taint information gleaned from the sessions.

“The only thing that torture guarantees is pain,” Navarro told the AP Tuesday. “It never guarantees the truth.”

Other memos released by the ACLU detail FBI interviews with detainees at Guantanamo who described CIA officer Johnny “Mike” Spann’s death in Afghanistan Nov. 25, 2001.

One detainee said Spann was “was jumped by an Arab or Pakistani male, but the armed man (Spann) shot the prisoner. People began running and chaos ensued.” Another detainee said “There was an explosion … from a grenade.”

There have been scant details so far of Spann’s death at the prison riot in Mazar-e-Sharif.

Many memos refer to Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, whose mission as head of the Guantanamo prison from October 2002 was to improve the intelligence gleaned from terror suspects. In August 2003, Miller was sent to Iraq to make recommendations on interrogation techniques there. He was posted to Abu Ghraib in March 2004.

One FBI e-mail released by the ACLU said Miller “continued to support interrogation strategies (the FBI) not only advised against, but questioned in terms of effectiveness.”

Miller left Iraq on Tuesday for a new assignment in Washington, with responsibility for Army housing and other support operations, and could not be reached for comment.

The Pentagon said the government “condemns and prohibits torture.”

“There have been eight major reviews, investigations, inspections and assessments based on more than 950 interviews and 15,000 pages of information,” Pentagon spokesman Maj. Michael Shavers said. “Three more reports still remain to be completed. There have been more than 18 congressional hearings and 39-plus congressional staff briefings.”

It was not clear what cases mentioned in the documents, if any, were under investigation or had been part of congressional briefings.


Associated Press writer Vickie Chachere contributed to this report from Tampa, Fla.


On the Net:

American Civil Liberties Union:

Document Reveals More U.S. Detainee Abuse in Iraq

Reuters logo Tuesday, December 14, 2004 6:02 p.m. ET
By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Marines fired a pistol in a mock execution involving four young Iraqi looters and shocked another Iraqi detainee with an electric transformer until he “danced,” a document made public on Tuesday showed.

The June 16 U.S. Navy document detailed 10 “substantiated” incidents of detainee abuse in Iraq involving 24 Marines dating back to May 2003. The Marine Corps said 13 Marines were convicted in courts-martial stemming from the incidents, getting prison sentences of up to 15 months.

The document was written seven weeks after pictures of U.S. Army soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib jail became public, triggering worldwide condemnation.

It was one of numerous Navy documents released by the American Civil Liberties Union, which obtained them under the Freedom of Information Act. In a June 14 e-mail, a Navy criminal investigator wrote that his Iraq “caseload is exploding, high visibility cases are on the rise.”

“The Defense Department has insisted from the outset that abuse, to the extent that it occurs at all, is aberrational,” said Jameel Jaffer, an ACLU lawyer. “I think we now have overwhelming evidence that that’s not true, but that abuse was widespread and that it was systemic in the sense that it was the result of policies adopted by the Defense Department.”

Air Force Lt. Col. John Skinner, a Pentagon spokesman, said, “We’ve never denied that misconduct sometimes occurs. But in all instances, we thoroughly investigate cases to determine the facts and hold responsible individuals accountable.”


The June 16 document listed a series of previously unknown incidents of detainee abuse by Marines, as well as 10 cases that Navy investigators, who handle cases involving Marines, examined as possible abuse but deemed “unsubstantiated.”

It described an April 2004 incident at Al Mahmudiya in which Marines shocked an Iraqi detainee with an electric transformer, placing live electrical wires on the detainee’s shoulder, noting that “the detainee ‘danced’ as he was shocked.”‘

The Marine Corps said four Marines were convicted of charges including assault, cruelty, maltreatment, and making a false official statement, with prison sentences ranging from 60 days to 15 months. A fifth Marine was given administrative punishment.

The document described incidents in June and July 2003 in Adiwaniyah. It stated that Marines “ordered 4 juvenile Iraqi looters to kneel beside 2 shallow fighting holes & a pistol was discharged to conduct a mock execution.” It did not give the age of the Iraqis. Marines in the case also were accused of locking looters in an abandoned tank and spraying looters with a fire extinguisher.

Three Marines in the incident were convicted on charges including detainee abuse and dereliction of duty, with two being sentenced to 30 days hard labor, and the third getting 14 days of restricted movement, and all being reduced in rank. Charges were withdrawn against a fourth Marine.

In August 2003, a detainee suffered second-degree burns on the back of his hands when a Marine guard at a base at Al Mumudiyah used a match to ignite an alcohol-based hand cleaner that had been squirted on the man’s hands, the document stated. The Marine was convicted and given a 90-day sentence.

The names of the Marines involved in the incidents were blacked out of the documents provided to the ACLU, and the Marine Corps said it had only their surnames.

Copyright © 2003 Reuters Limited.

December 21, 2004


New F.B.I. Files Describe Abuse of Iraq Inmates


WASHINGTON, Dec. 20 – F.B.I. memorandums portray abuse of prisoners by American military personnel in Iraq that included detainees’ being beaten and choked and having lit cigarettes placed in their ears, according to newly released government documents.

The documents, released Monday in connection with a lawsuit accusing the government of being complicit in torture, also include accounts by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents who said they had seen detainees in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, being chained in uncomfortable positions for up to 24 hours and left to urinate and defecate on themselves. An agent wrote that in one case a detainee who was nearly unconscious had pulled out much of his hair during the night.

One of the memorandums released Monday was addressed to Robert S. Mueller III, the F.B.I. director, and other senior bureau officials, and it provided the account of someone “who observed serious physical abuses of civilian detainees” in Iraq. The memorandum, dated June 24 this year, was an “Urgent Report,” meaning that the sender regarded it as a priority. It said the witness “described that such abuses included strangulation, beatings, placement of lit cigarettes into the detainees’ ear openings and unauthorized interrogations.”

The memorandum did not make clear whether the witness was an agent or an informant, and it said there had also been an effort to cover up the abuses. The writer of the memorandum said Mr. Mueller should be aware of what was occurring because “of potential significant public, media and Congressional interest which may generate calls to the director.” The document does not provide further details of the abuse, but suggests that such treatment of prisoners in Iraq was the subject of an investigation conducted by the bureau’s Sacramento office.

Beyond providing new details about the nature and extent of abuses, if not the exact times or places, the newly disclosed documents are the latest to show that such activities were known to a wide circle of government officials.

The documents, mostly memorandums written by agents to superiors in Washington over the past year, also include claims that some military interrogators had posed as F.B.I. officials while using harsh tactics on detainees, both in Iraq and at Guantánamo Bay.

In one memorandum, dated Dec. 5, 2003, an agent whose name is blanked out on the document expressed concern about military interrogators’ posing as F.B.I. agents at the Guantánamo camp.

The agent wrote that the memorandum was intended as an official record of the interrogators’ behavior because, “If this detainee is ever released or his story made public in any way, D.O.D. interrogators will not be held accountable because these torture techniques were done by ‘F.B.I.’ interrogators. The F.B.I. will be left holding the bag before the public.” D.O.D. is an abbreviation for the Department of Defense.

Asked about the possible impersonation of F.B.I. agents by military personnel, Bryan Whitman, the deputy Pentagon spokesman, said Monday that “It is difficult to determine from the secondhand description whether the technique” was permissible.

The Pentagon did not offer any fresh reaction to the descriptions of alleged abuse. But it said in response to other recent disclosures that the Defense Department did not tolerate abusive tactics and that some of the allegations contained in such documents were under investigation.

The documents were in the latest batch of papers to be released by the government in response to a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups to determine the extent, if any, of American participation in the mistreatment of prisoners. The documents are the most recent in a series of disclosures that have increasingly contradicted the military’s statements that harsh treatment of prisoners happened only in limited, isolated cases.

Anthony D. Romero, the executive director of the A.C.L.U., said the documents meant that “top government officials can no longer hide from public scrutiny by pointing the finger at a few low-ranking soldiers.”

Another message sent to F.B.I. officials including Valerie E. Caproni, the bureau’s top lawyer, recounted witnessing detainees chained in interrogation rooms at Guantánamo, where about 550 prisoners are being held.

The agent, whose name was deleted from the document, wrote on July 29, 2004: “On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they had urinated or defecated on themselves and had been left there for 18 24 hours or more.”

The agent said that on another occasion, the air-conditioning had been turned up so high that a chained detainee was shivering. The agent said the military police had explained by saying that interrogators from the previous day had ordered the treatment and “that the detainee was not to be moved.”

The agent also wrote: “On another occasion, the A/C had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room probably well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his own hair out throughout the night.”

As in previously released memorandums in the case, F.B.I. officials expressed their deep concerns about seeing the use of interrogation techniques that they are prohibited from using in their own investigations.

The Dec. 5, 2003, memorandum in which an agent frets about the F.B.I. being left “holding the bag,” also asserted that the threats and abuses of one detainee did not produce any intelligence that could help thwart an attack. Further, the memorandum said other bureau officials believed that the harsh interrogation techniques would have meant that any chances of prosecuting the individual were destroyed because the evidence would have to be thrown out in court because it was coerced.

The issue of military interrogators’ impersonating F.B.I. agents was especially troubling to bureau officials, according to the memorandums, not least because they seem to have been unsuccessful in persuading the military to stop the practice.

January 10, 2005

New Photos and Video Unveiled in Trial of Iraqi Prison Abuse


FORT HOOD, Tex., Jan. 10 – Prosecutors unveiled a new series of graphic photographs and videos today showing abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq as they tried to portray the accused ringleader of the prison abuse scandal as a sadistic thug who punched detainees for sport, posed smiling next to the swollen and bloody face of a detainee, and bragged about forcing an Iraqi woman to let him photograph her naked.

In opening arguments here at the court martial for the accused soldier, Specialist Charles A. Graner, his lawyer insisted he was simply following orders, and using lessons he had learned in his civilian life as a prison guard to try to maintain discipline in a chaotic war zone.

Using naked and hooded detainees to make a human pyramid was much like what cheerleaders “all over America” do at football games, the lawyer, Guy Womack, argued. Putting naked prisoners on leashes was much like what parents in airports and malls do with their toddlers: “They’re not being abused,” the lawyer told the jury of 10 soldiers, “they’re being kept in control.”

But prosecutors called other soldiers who testified that Specialist Graner had laughed and joked even as detainees moaned, screamed, and pleaded with him to stop beating them.

“There was a lot wrong at Abu Ghraib,” the prosecutor, Maj. Michael Holley, conceded. “There were training problems, there were logistics problems, there were certainly leadership problems. It was a chaotic environment.”

Still, he told the jury, “What we’re presenting to you is the serious misconduct that anyone would say, ‘That’s illegal, that’s beyond the pale, there’s no way anyone would say that’s right.’ ”

Specialist Graner, a 36-year-old reservist from the 372nd Military Police company based in Maryland, faces up to 17 1/2 years in prison on several counts of assault, maltreatment, dereliction of duty and indecent acts stemming from the abuse scandal that broke open last spring with the publication of sexually humiliating photographs of Iraqi detainees. The photographs included hooded and naked detainees piled in a pyramid, simulating oral sex, and leashed.

The scandal set off several high-level military investigations that have exposed a wider range of mistreatment of detainees in Afghanistan and Iraq, and at the American detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. But the question of who authorized such treatment remains largely unanswered.

Witnesses here testified that commanders and military intelligence soldiers had authorized such harsh treatment as keeping detainees chained to railings all night to force them to stay awake. Pvt. Ivan L. Frederick, one of four soldiers who has accepted a plea agreement in the Abu Ghraib abuse case, testified that he asked the military police soldiers from the unit the 372nd company replaced why detainees were naked and handcuffed, or wearing women’s underwear on their heads. He was told, he testified, that it was the way things were done.

Even Specialist Graner asked higher-ups whether it was right to handcuff detainees to a railing to keep them awake, Private Frederick testified. But the military police were told that if military intelligence asked for so-called “sleep management,” it was fine. Describing instructions for sleep management from one military intelligence soldier, Private Frederick testified: “He told me, ‘I don’t care what you do, just don’t kill him.’ ”

Still, Private Frederick and other soldiers testified, commanders did not know about the kind of treatment shown in the infamous photographs and would not have sanctioned it.

Several soldiers described their alarm as they watched the abuse unfold, particularly on one evening that began with several soldiers running and jumping into a pile of detainees as though they were leaves.

“It made me kind of sick, almost, I didn’t know what to do,” Specialist Matthew Wisdom, who has not been charged, said. “It just didn’t seem right. You’re taught everyday values, you’re supposed to be better than the average soldier and there’s a lot of pride that’s supposed to go with that. And basically, when I came into the tier, what I saw, it didn’t look right, it didn’t look normal, and it didn’t look like something an M.P. would do.”

Describing how Specialist Graner punched a detainee in the temple so hard that it knocked him unconscious, Specialist Wisdom said, “If I was that detainee, I know that would have been very painful.”

Photographs of detainees being mistreated were beamed up to a large screen in the darkened courtroom, occasionally looming over it for several minutes at a time as witnesses narrated them.

“He walked over to the detainee that had ‘I’m a rapist’ written on his leg and punched the detainee in the temple, sir,” Pvt. Jeremy Sivits, who is serving a year’s prison sentence for taking photographs of the abuse, testified about Specialist Graner. “And then he kind of shook his hand and said, ‘Ow. Damn, that hurt.’ ”

Had the detainees posed any threat? the prosecutor asked. Had they assaulted anyone?

“No sir,” Private Sivits said.

Speaking so softly that the judge had to remind him several times to speak up, Private Sivits testified, “The detainee just kind of shook and lay there on the floor. He just kind of moved his feet and lay there.”

Explaining a new video that shows him trying to cut flex cuffs off a detainee, Private Sivits said that Specialist Graner had attached them so tightly, “His hands were turning purple. I told him we had to get the cuffs off. I personally thought he was going to lose his hands.”

Another new photograph taken by Specialist Graner showed a 19-year old Iraqi women exposing her breasts. Private Sivits said Specialist Graner said he had tried to photograph her pubic area, but she would not let him.

Asked to explain photograph of detainees masturbating, Private Frederick said Specialist Graner “said it was a present for our birthday.”

Specialist Graner is the first soldier to face a contested trial for the abuse case, which broke open last spring with the publication of graphic photographs that showed naked detainees piled in a pyramid, leashed and crawling, or simulating sex, and Specialist Graner and their other military captors grinning and giving the thumbs-up sign alongside.

Last week, the prosecution dropped allegations that he committed adultery with another soldier, Pfc. Lynndie R. England, and tried to coerce another soldier not to tell anyone he had seen the abuse.

Human rights watchdog seeks Abu Ghraib probe

By Bob Deans


, Jan.14, 2005

WASHINGTON – The respected advocacy group Human Rights Watch called Thursday for the Bush administration to name a special prosecutor to probe allegations of criminal misconduct by U.S. interrogators at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and their civilian leaders in Washington.

The New York-based group alleged that the Abu Ghraib abuses have undercut U.S. moral authority, provided “a new rallying cry” for terrorist recruiters and done “enormous damage” to respect for human rights worldwide.

“When the superpower deliberately flouts these kinds of basic standards, it degrades the standards themselves, and that’s what we are beginning to see with the United States,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of the rights group. “We find its moral authority being sapped by its very own conduct.”

Roth made the remarks during the release of the organization’s annual report on global human rights abuse.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher called the group “an important organization” but defended the U.S. record on human rights.

“The United States is at the forefront of the defense and promotion of human rights,” Boucher told reporters. “We don’t condone torture of prisoners, we don’t condone abuse of prisoners,” he said, adding that, “Where we find it we will expose it and we will punish it, even if it takes place at U.S. hand.”

The Pentagon has been investigating for the past year about 300 alleged instances of abuse of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, after a scene of infamous photos made public last spring of Iraqi prisoners being stripped, sexually humiliated and threatened by attack dogs.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld survived calls by many members of Congress for his resignation in the wake of the scandal, which has scarred the U.S. image around the world, particularly among Muslims and Arabs. Last May, Rumsfeld asked a panel headed by former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger to investigate the abuses.

The panel concluded its work in August and Schlesinger said at the time that the abuses occurred in an environment of “chaos” at Abu Ghraib and were “freelance activities” not authorized by senior officers.

Still, Schlesinger said, officials “up the chain of command” bore indirect responsibility for not correcting what he described as an “animal house” atmosphere at a prison holding up to 8,000 Iraqis at a time.

But Roth said the abuses were part of a broader and disturbing pattern that was “the predictable product of an environment created by a series of policy decisions taken at the highest level of the Bush administration.”

Only the appointment of a special prosecutor operating independently of administration influence could oversee an inquiry capable of conducting a credible investigation of the abuses in a way that might hold high-level officials accountable, said Roth.

In addition to ongoing military inquiries, the Justice Department has four separate investigations into alleged civilian abuses at Abu Ghraib and in Afghanistan.

“An independent prosecutor is called for when the Justice Department can’t be seen to be impartial,” said Mark Corallo, a spokesman for the department. That’s not the case here, he said.

Abuse soldiers followed orders say lawyers
Wed Jan 19, 2005 06:00 PM GMT
By James Mackenzie

A detail of an undated handout photograph, issued on January 18, 2005, that is to be used as evidence in a court martial in Osnabrueck, purports to show Lance corporal Darren Larkin standing on an Iraqi detainee and corporal Daniel Kenyon taking a photograph in the rear. REUTERS/British court martial handout

Newspapers have published pictures of Iraqis apparently being abused by British soldiers under “Shame” and “Shock” headlines, in echoes of the Abu Ghraib scandal that badly damaged the standing of the U.S. military. REUTERS/Military handout

OSNABRUECK, Germany (Reuters) – British soldiers accused of abusing and sexually humiliating Iraqi prisoners were only following orders that their detainees be “worked hard”, defence lawyers have told a military court.

The defence began cross-examining witnesses at the trial of Corporal Daniel Kenyon and lance corporals Darren Larkin and Mark Cooley a day after published photos, some including the soldiers, appeared to show naked detainees being forced to simulate anal and other sex acts.

Prime Minister Tony Blair, a staunch advocate of the U.S.-led Iraq invasion to oust Saddam Hussein, told parliament on Wednesday he found the pictures “shocking and appalling”.

The case echoes the scandal involving U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, which severely tarnished Washington’s image in the Arab world and elsewhere.

British officials have stressed that very few British troops have been accused of similar actions, although a prosecution witness said on Wednesday that commanders heard several reports of problems, which prompted them to reinforce orders that civilians were not to be mistreated.

“We had a number of allegations that civilians were not being treated as they should be,” Lt. Col. Nicholas Mercer, a senior legal officer stationed in the Gulf during the war said.

Joseph Giret, a civilian lawyer for Kenyon, told the court his client was following orders to round up looters stealing from food stores near the southern Iraqi city of Basra in the weeks after the invasion.

Under a plan called “Ali Baba”, troops were told that looters were to be caught and “worked hard” to repair damage and deter further pilfering.

“The whole reason Kenyon is in the dock stems from those who gave the order to operate plan Ali Baba,” Giret said.

On Tuesday the prosecution said the order was against international law preventing civilians from being detained and forced to work, but the prosecutors said soldiers’ actions went far beyond it.

Mercer said the “quasi-police” role forced on troops by the total breakdown of law and order in Iraq posed big challenges. But he said troops had clear instructions about what to do with civilians apprehended for suspected criminal activity.

“They can be detained, handed over to Military Police and underpinning all this is treatment with humanity and dignity.”


Major Daniel Taylor, the commander of the camp hit by looters and the one who allegedly gave the verbal order, is expected to testify on Thursday after the court adjourned early on Wednesday to give lawyers time to look at new evidence.

“At the very heart in this case will be the words uttered by Major Taylor and the actions undertaken by those under his command,” said Stephen Vullo, a lawyer for Cooley.

The three soldiers, who sat straight-faced throughout the testimony, have pleaded not guilty to numerous counts of abuse, although one admitted assaulting a man.

Photos plastered across newspaper front pages showed an Iraqi man dangling from a forklift truck held only by netting and a soldier with his foot raised over a bound Iraqi lying in a puddle of water.

Some newspapers warned the case carried political risks for Blair, U.S. President George W. Bush’s closest ally in Iraq.

“Everyone finds those photographs shocking and appalling, and there are simply no other words to describe them,” Blair told parliament on Wednesday. He insisted a majority of British troops had acted with distinction and honour.

A U.S. military court sentenced Charles Graner, the alleged ringleader at Abu Ghraib, to 10 years in prison last weekend. Graner’s defence lawyer also argued that he had only been following orders.

© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.

‘Trophy photos’ led to soldiers’ demotions

By Toni Locy, USA TODAY, 2/17/05
WASHINGTON — In “trophy photos” taken in Afghanistan in late 2003 and early 2004, masked U.S. soldiers posed with their weapons pointed at the heads of detainees, according to U.S. Army documents released Thursday by the ACLU.

A platoon of military police assigned to Fort Drum, N.Y., took so many pictures, the documents say, that a soldier later told investigators that he had planned to catalogue them onto CD-ROMs. One disk for his fellow soldiers would have included photos of a dead Afghan man; another version for the soldiers’ family and friends would have excluded the picture of the man.

Eight soldiers were demoted and had to forfeit pay after the photos were found in June 2004 in an office at Fire Base Tycze in Afghanistan, the Army records say.

The photos had been taken about the time that U.S. military police were abusing Iraqi detainees — and photographing them — at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. Those photos, which became public last spring, drew worldwide criticism of the U.S. military’s treatment of detainees.

The Army documents released Thursday also say that U.S. soldiers in Iraq videotaped a beating they gave last spring to an Iraqi man who had been accused of rape.

The documents highlight a question that has dogged the Pentagon since the Abu Ghraib scandal broke: whether soldiers received written guidance on how to handle detainees. In the records released Thursday, the MPs in Afghanistan told investigators that they had not received such instructions.

“From the taking of prohibited photographs to the actual torture of prisoners, the administration has shown open disregard for the protections of detainees under the Geneva Conventions,” ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said.

The Army said Thursday that several probes into detainee abuse have been done and that it will address “identified problems in detainee operations.”

The ACLU got the Army records through a lawsuit that seeks government documents concerning allegations that captives held in Afghanistan, Iraq and Cuba have been tortured. In a series of releases, agencies have given the ACLU documents detailing hundreds of allegations of detainee abuse.

The photos of the dead Afghan were taken after he wounded three soldiers, the records say. The unidentified soldier who took the photos told investigators he wanted his wounded comrades to see what had happened to the attacker.

The Army records say the soldiers in the photos obscured their faces. They later told Army investigators the guns were not loaded. Several soldiers told Army investigators they didn’t know they had done anything wrong until they saw the outrage over the abuse at Abu Ghraib.

Point and shoot: how the Abu Ghraib images redefine photography.

(American Scholar, Winter 2005)

Ex-Abu Ghraib inmate speaks

By Frazier Moore, Associated Press  |  April 29, 2005

NEW YORK — A former prisoner who says he was the man under the black hood in a gruesome photo from Abu Ghraib has spoken out for this week’s edition of the PBS newsmagazine ”Now.””I remember the box, the pipes, even the two wires,” the former detainee, Haj Ali, says of the photo, which, with others like it, showed the world how US soldiers were abusing Iraqi inmates.

”They made me stand on a box with my hands hooked to wires and shocked me with electricity,” Ali says through an interpreter in his first in-depth American television interview. ”It felt like my eyeballs were coming out of their sockets. I fell, and they put me back up again for more.”

Then mayor of a Baghdad suburb and a member of the ruling Ba’ath Party, Ali was snatched off the street in late 2003 and transported to the prison, while denying involvement in the insurgency. For almost all of the three months Ali spent at Abu Ghraib, his family had no idea where he was.

The ”Now” story, which airs at 8 p.m. tonight on PBS, examines legal and human rights issues surrounding US policy for handling suspected terrorists.

”How we treat those we regard as our enemies says a lot about who we are as Americans, and as ethical people who live by our own rules,” host David Brancaccio reports from the US military camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where more than 500 suspected terrorists are being held indefinitely in what he calls a ”legal black hole.”

Some of the allegations regarding Guantanamo Bay are similar to those from Abu Ghraib: Prisoners chained in painful positions, deprived of sleep for days, and exposed to extremes in temperature.

”Now” was granted a tour of the Guantanamo Bay prison, which for the past year has been under the command of Brigadier General Jay Hood. ”The detainees under our charge are well cared for, physically and mentally,” Hood tells Brancaccio.

Haj Ali was released from Abu Ghraib as abruptly as he was arrested, ”Now” reports; he was tossed off the back of a truck. He now runs a program to document accounts of continuing torture at the prison.

On Abu Ghraib, the big shots walk


New York Times, April 29

When soldiers in war are not properly trained and supervised, atrocities are all but inevitable. This is one reason why the military command structure is so important. There was a time, not so long ago, when commanders were expected to be accountable for the behavior of their subordinates.

That’s changed. Under Commander in Chief George W. Bush, the notion of command accountability has been discarded. In Bush’s world of war, it’s the grunts who take the heat. Punishment is reserved for the people at the bottom. The people who foul up at the top are promoted.

It was a year ago April 28 that the stories and photos of the shocking abuses at Abu Ghraib prison first came to the public’s attention. It was a scandal that undermined the military’s reputation and diminished the standing of the U.S. around the world.

It would soon become clear that the photos of hooded, naked and humiliated detainees were evidence of a much larger problem. The system for processing, interrogating and detaining prisoners at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere in Iraq was dangerously out of control, and the command structure responsible for it had collapsed. Detainees were beaten, tortured, sexually abused and, in some instances, killed. Many detainees should never have been imprisoned at all, as they had committed no offenses.

So what happened? A handful of grunts were court-martialed, a Marine major was cashiered, and the Army plans to issue a new interrogation manual that bars certain harsh techniques. There was no wholesale crackdown on criminal behavior.

We learned last week that after a high-level investigation, the Army had cleared four of the five top officers who were responsible for prison policies and operations in Iraq. The fifth officer, Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski of the Army Reserve, had already been relieved of her command of the military police unit at Abu Ghraib. (She has complained, and not without reason, that she was a scapegoat for the failures of higher-ranking officers.)

As Eric Schmitt wrote in The New York Times: “Barring new evidence, the inquiry by the Army’s inspector general effectively closes the Army’s book on whether the highest-ranking officers in Iraq during the Abu Ghraib prison scandal should be held accountable for command failings described in past reviews.”

This is the way atrocities are dealt with in Bush’s world of war. The higher-ups responsible for training, supervising and disciplining the troops — in other words, the big shots who presided over a system that ran shamefully amok — escaped virtually unscathed.

The abuses at Abu Ghraib, which seemed mind-boggling at the time, turned out to be symptomatic of the torture, abuse and institutionalized injustice that have permeated the Bush administration’s operations in its so-called war against terror. Euphemisms like rendition, coercive interrogation, sleep adjustment and waterboarding are now widely understood. Yes, Virginia, it is the policy of the United States to kidnap individuals and send them off to regimes skilled in the art of torture.

Two things are needed. First, a truly independent commission, along the lines of the bipartisan 9/11 panel, should be set up to thoroughly investigate U.S. interrogation and detention operations, and make recommendations to correct abuses.

Second, the U.S. government should make it clear, beyond any doubt, that torture and any other inhumane treatment of prisoners is wrong, just flat wrong, and will not be tolerated under any circumstances.

“In our contemporary world, torture is like the slave trade or piracy was to people in the 1790s,” said Michael Posner, executive director of Human Rights First, which is suing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld over the prisoner abuse issue. “Torture is a crime against mankind, against humanity. It’s something that has to be absolutely prohibited.”

If the president made it clear that men and women up and down the chain of command would be held responsible for the abuses that occur on their watch, the abuses would plummet. Instead, the message the administration has sent is that its demands for accountability will be limited to a few hapless, ill-trained grunts.

The big shots who presided over behavior that has shamed America in the eyes of the world can count on this president’s embrace.

Write to Mr. Herbert at

May 2, 2005

Iraq War Veteran Pleads Guilty in Abu Ghraib Prison Scandal

and NATHAN LEVY  (New York Times)

Pfc. Lynndie R. England, the 22-year-old woman who became an infamous presence in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse photographs, pleaded guilty today to seven of the nine counts against her, under an agreement with military prosecutors.

Private England had faced up to 16 1/2 years in prison if convicted on all full nine counts, which included conspiracy, dereliction of duty, maltreatment and indecent acts. But one of her lawyers, Capt. Jonathan Crisp, said last week that Private England would enter a guilty plea at the pretrial hearing today on seven counts and then face sentencing by a military jury. The reduced charges carry a maximum sentence of 11 years.

Two people close to the prosecution have said Private England can expect to receive no more than 30 months in prison.

When the proceedings, at Fort Hood, Tex., resume on Tuesday, a military jury will be seated to hear evidence on sentencing. That phase of the proceedings is expected to last up to seven days, possibly including weekends, according to a statement from the Fort Hood public affairs office. The statement said Private England was charged with violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice that occurred at the prison near Baghdad from October to December 2003.

At the hearing today, the judge, Col. James L. Pohl, rejected a defense motion to recuse himself. Captain Crisp, one of Private England’s lawyers, had argued that it was not proper for Colonel Pohl to preside over her case because he had been involved in the other cases related to the Abu Ghraib scandal.

Captain Crisp said Private England’s defense team would present evidence that she had a history of mental health problems and learning disabilities. He said her lawyers would also present evidence that another soldier, Spec. Charles A. Graner Jr., who military investigators say was the ringleader of the abuse and who was her boyfriend at the time, was a corrupting influence on her.

Private England, an Army reservist from West Virginia, was shown in photographs from the prison holding a leash around the neck of a naked and crawling Iraqi detainee. In other photos, she appeared grinning or giving a thumbs-up over naked detainees, holding a cigarette between her teeth.

Private England appeared stoic as she arrived at court this morning in her dress green uniform and red beret, a demeanor that pool reporters in the courtroom said she maintained throughout the proceedings. Just before recess, the judge questioned her about the charge of maltreatment of subordinates, asking about the photograph of her with the leashed detainee.

“I assumed it was O.K. because he was an M.P.,” Private England said, referring to Mr. Graner, using the initials for military policeman. “He had background as a correctional officer.”

In assessing whether Private England fully understood the consequences of a guilty plea, the judge asked her whether she had thought at the time that what she was doing was wrong. She paused and then did not answer the question directly, asking the judge “at the time?” Her lawyer then interceded and assured the judge that she understands now the nature of her actions.

Private England and six other soldiers implicated in the abuse were reservists with the 372nd Military Police Company based in Cresaptown, Md. Four have pleaded guilty in exchange for reduced punishments; one, Specialist Sabrina Harman, faces court-martial next month.

Mr. Graner was convicted and sentenced in January to 10 years in prison and dismissed from the military. He is in a military prison in Leavenworth, Kan. The seven soldiers have said they were following orders.


Nathan Levy reported from Fort Hood, Tex., and Christine Hauser from New York. Kate Zernike contributed reporting for this article.

Lynndie England’s Plea Rejected
FORT HOOD, Texas, May 4, 2005  (CBS News StoryP

A military judge on Wednesday threw out Pfc. Lynndie England’s guilty plea to prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, saying he was not convinced that she knew her actions were wrong at the time.

Col. James Pohl entered a plea of not guilty for England to a charge of conspiring with Pvt. Charles Graner Jr. to maltreat detainees at the Baghdad-area prison.

The mistrial for the 22-year-old reservist, who appeared in some of the most notorious photographs from the 2003 abuse scandal, kicks the case back to the military equivalent of a grand jury proceeding.

The action came after Graner, the reputed ringleader of the abuse, testified as a defense witness at England’s sentencing hearing that pictures he took of England holding a naked prisoner on a leash at Abu Ghraib were meant to be used as a legitimate training aid for other guards.

Other photos showed England standing next to nude prisoners stacked in a pyramid and pointing at a prisoner’s genitals.

When England pleaded guilty Monday, she told the judge she knew that the pictures were being taken purely for the amusement of the guards.

Pohl said the two statements could not be reconciled.

“You can’t have a one-person conspiracy,” the judge said before he declared the mistrial and dismissed the sentencing jury.

Under military law, the judge could formally accept her guilty plea only if he was convinced that she knew at the time that what she was doing was illegal.

By rejecting the plea to the conspiracy charge, Pohl canceled the entire plea agreement.

England’s plea deal was a tightly woven package, reports CBS News Correspondent Barry Bagnato. When the judge decided he could not longer accept one of her guilty pleas, the remaining threads unraveled.

Army legal expert Capt. Cullen Sheppard says it’s back to square one for England.

“The charges will be returned to the convening authority, the commander III Corps, for disposition,” Sheppard said. In a way, England right now is better off than when she started here. Under her plea deal, two charges against her were dismissed on Monday. Those dismissals stand, but new charges could be filed.

During defense questioning, Graner said he looped the leash around the prisoner’s shoulders as a way to coax him out of a cell, and that it slipped up around his neck. He said he asked England to hold the strap while he took photos that he could show to other guards later to teach them this prisoner-handling technique.

At that point Pohl halted Graner’s testimony and admonished the defense for admitting evidence that ran counter to England’s plea on the conspiracy charge and one count of maltreating detainees.

The judge did not discuss the other five counts to which England had pleaded guilty.

Graner, who is said to be the father of England’s infant son, was found guilty in January and is serving a 10-year prison term for his role in the scandal.

In a handwritten note given to reporters Tuesday, Graner had said he wanted England to fight the charges.

“Knowing what happened in Iraq, it was very upsetting to see Lynn plead guilty to her charges,” he wrote. “I would hope that by doing so she will have a better chance at a good sentence.”

Graner maintains that he and the other Abu Ghraib guards were following orders from higher-ranking interrogators when they abused the detainees.

Abu Ghraib abuser sentenced to six months prison
Tue May 17, 2005 09:18 PM ET
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By Debbie StevensonFORT HOOD, Texas (Reuters) – A U.S. Army reservist convicted of attaching wires to an Iraqi prisoner in a photographed scene that outraged the international community was sentenced on Tuesday to six months in prison.

A military jury at the nation’s largest Army base recommended a six-month prison term for Sabrina Harman, 27, a far more lenient sentence than the maximum of five and a half years. The prosecution had asked for a three-year sentence.

Harman was credited with 51 days already served and will receive a bad conduct discharge.

The jury found her guilty on six of seven abuse-related charges, including a photographed incident in which she placed wires on a hooded Iraqi prisoner and threatened him with execution if he stepped off the box he was standing on.

“I wish to apologize to any and all detainees,” Harman told a military courtroom at the base. “I failed my duties. I failed my mission. Not only did I let down the people in Iraq, I let down every single soldier that serves today.”

“I take full responsibility for my actions,” she said. “The decisions I made were mine and mine alone.”

One of three women implicated in the Abu Ghraib scandal, Harman also appeared in a notorious photograph showing a naked pyramid of Iraqis accused of rioting in a prison yard. She wrote “rapeist” on one prisoner’s leg before he was forced to pile into the pyramid.

The pictures, which were made public just over a year ago, badly damaged America’s reputation abroad.

Earlier, her roommate told the military panel that Harman is a gentle woman. “What you see out there is not the true Sabrina Harman,” her partner, Kelly Bryant, said in testimony that brought Harman to tears. “She’s the type of person who wouldn’t allow you to step on an ant or kill a spider.”

Bryant said Harman, who had worked at a pizza parlor before the war, had wanted to adopt an Iraqi boy. “She’s generous, gentle, caring, unselfish,” she said.

Harman is only the second Abu Ghraib guard convicted by a military panel, following the January court-martial of ringleader Charles Graner, who was sentenced to 10 years at a military prison.

Harman’s sentence is one of the lesser sentences handed down in the Abu Ghraib cases. Six other soldiers have reached plea deals, with all but one receiving jail terms.

After Harman’s trial the only remaining case is that of Lynndie England, Graner’s former lover who bore his child last year. England is pictured in photos holding a naked prisoner by a leash around his neck and smiling at pointing at the genitals of another detainee.

England’s lawyer said on Tuesday that a pretrial hearing in her case was scheduled for next Monday, at Ft. Hood, with Graner and other jailed abusers expected to testify.

© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Judge to decide on release of new Iraq prison abuse photos

Cox News Service
Monday, August 15, 2005 

WASHINGTON — A showdown is set for Monday in a New York federal court over the Defense Department’s refusal to release a new batch of photographs and videos showing U.S. soldiers abusing detainees in Iraq.

The 87 photographs and four videos were taken by Spc. Joseph M. Darby, the Army military policeman who ignited an international maelstrom last year when he turned over photos to authorities that revealed soldiers mistreating, sexually humiliating and threatening inmates at the Abu Ghraib prison west of Baghdad.

Government lawyers say publicly releasing the images would “endanger the safety and lives of individuals, including soldiers and civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere,” according to legal documents filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The American Civil Liberties Union, lead counsel for a coalition of five civil liberties and veterans groups, is asking U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein to reject what it sees as the government’s last-ditch effort to keep images from Abu Ghraib from the public.

“There is a grave danger in shielding government misconduct from public scrutiny,” lawyers for the coalition stated in their legal brief. “The best way for the government to address the reaction it fears is not by hiding misconduct, but by addressing it in a forthright and credible manner.”

At issue is a lawsuit filed by the ACLU in June 2004 against the Department of Defense for failing to respond to a request for information about torture at Abu Ghraib and other detainee facilities that was filed under the Freedom of Information Act.

After hearing arguments Monday, Hellerstein will decide whether Darby’s images should be released to the public and whether the government improperly redacted significant portions of their legal filings in the case. At least part of Monday’s hearing itself will be closed to the public.

To date, the ACLU has obtained more than 60,000 pages of government documents regarding torture and abuse of detainees as a result of its lawsuit. But the photographs sought by the civil liberties groups are more controversial because they would be the first images of abuse released since Darby’s initial batch of photographs.

The government filed its appeal on July 22, the very day it was supposed to comply with a request from Hellerstein to review and remove identifying traits from the images in preparation for his decision on whether to allow the public to see the pictures.

“After reviewing these images, DOD officials and officers expressed grave concern regarding the likelihood of violence occurring as a result of the release,” states the government’s legal brief.

In a sworn statement supporting that brief, Air Force General Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he feared the images would ignite protests and spur violence similar to the outrage that occurred following Newsweek’s April 30 story — later withdrawn — alleging that the Koran had been flushed down a toilet at a detainee facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

In the past, the government has used different legal reasons for refusing to release the Darby photos under the Freedom of Information Act. It has argued that the images would violate the privacy rights of prisoners as well as the Geneva Convention, which prohibits subjecting detainees to public humiliation.


The ACLU argued that allowing the government to cite a new exemption to the Freedom of Information Act at the 11th hour would “eviscerate the principles of open government and accountability enshrined in FOIA.”

The group contends that the government is trying to hide the images to avoid accountability in the higher ranks for the torture allegations.

“The actions depicted in these photos and videos demonstrate the failure of American leaders who placed our young men and women in compromising situations and are now seeking to blame them for it,” ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero said in a statement.

“The real shame here is that our leaders left our troops out on a limb and now they are hiding behind a veil of rank and government office to avoid accountability,” Romero said.

Retired Army Col. Michael E. Pheneger, a former military intelligence expert, disagreed with the government’s argument that the release of the photos would spawn more violence.

“Our enemies seek to prevent the United States from achieving its objectives in the Middle East,” Pheneger wrote in a sworn affidavit filed with the ACLU’s brief. “They do not need specific provocations to justify their actions.”

Open government advocates say the public deserves to know the truth about what happened at the Abu Ghraib prison and at other detainee facilities.

“It seems like the government is really grasping at straws to suddenly change its reasoning for keeping the images from the public,” said Rick Blum, executive director of, an umbrella organization of conservative and liberal groups concerned about government secrecy issues.

The government should have raised its concerns about the photos sparking riots from the beginning if it was truly a valid concern, Blum said.

“Again, we see secrecy keeps problems alive,” Blum said.


On the Web:

ACLU and government briefs:


Rebecca Carr’s e-mail is rcarr(at)


Lynndie England convicted at Abu Ghraib trial
Sept 26, 2005

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — Army Pfc. Lynndie England, whose smiling poses in photos of detainee abuse at Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison made her the face of the scandal, was convicted Monday by a military jury on six of seven counts.
Lynndie England leaves court Friday after closing arguments in her trial.
By Tony Gutierrez, AP

England, 22, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy, four counts of maltreating detainees and one count of committing an indecent act. She was acquitted on a second conspiracy count.

The jury of five male Army officers took about two hours to reach its verdict. Her case now moves into the sentencing phase, which will determined by the same jury. She faces a maximum 10 years in prison.

England’s trial is the last for a group of nine Army reservists charged with mistreating prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq. Two others were convicted in trials and the remaining six made plea deals. Several of those soldiers testified at England’s trial.

Prosecutors used graphic photos of England to support their contention that she was a key figure in the abuse conspiracy. One photo shows England holding a naked detainee on a leash. In others, she smiles and points to prisoners in humiliating poses.

They also pointed to her statement to Army investigators in January 2004 that the mistreatment was done to amuse the U.S. guards at Abu Ghraib. (Related: Taguba report on Abu Ghraib/

“The accused knew what she was doing,” said Capt. Chris Graveline, the lead prosecutor. “She was laughing and joking. … She is enjoying, she is participating, all for her own sick humor.”

Capt. Jonathan Crisp, England’s lawyer, countered that England was only trying to please her soldier boyfriend, then-Cpl. Charles Graner Jr., labeled the abuse ringleader by prosecutors.

“She was a follower, she was an individual who was smitten with Graner,” Crisp said. “She just did whatever he wanted her to do.”

England has said that Graner, now serving a 10-year sentence, fathered her young son.

The defense argued that England suffered from depression and that she has an overly compliant personality, making her a heedless participant in the abuse.


Military tightens use of electronic media

Move follows alleged posting of gruesome photos from Iraq

By Bryan Bender, Globe Staff  |  September 29, 2005

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has tightened guidelines governing the use of photography, e-mail, Web logs, and other electronic media by US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, amid allegations that some soldiers snapped close-up photographs of corpses in Iraq and posted them on a pornographic website.

Senior Army officials said yesterday that criminal investigators have not been able to authenticate the photos or determine whether American troops snapped the gruesome scenes of mutilated corpses and provided them to an adult website — which would clearly be a violation of the code of conduct and possibly the international laws of armed conflict.

The existence of the images was first reported in August by an Italian Web blogger and then this week by a small San Francisco alternative newspaper, the East Bay Express.

While no criminal inquiry has been opened, commanders are continuing to look into the matter to determine whether any disciplinary action is called for, officials said. The images provide little detail of the surroundings or easily identifiable features, and without evidence of a crime the military at this point can only pursue the case as one of possible conduct unbecoming of a soldier — grounds for a dishonorable discharge from the military.

However, to avoid such violations in the future, commanders have updated the rules for using the Internet and other communications technologies such as digital cameras, which have captured the brutal reality on the ground in Iraq like perhaps no previous conflict.

A bulletin issued yesterday to US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan outlined new ”Internet security” guidelines. Among other things, the one-page memo warned troops against posting ”any photographs on any websites.”

”Some soldiers continue to post sensitive information on the Internet and especially on their Web logs or online diaries,” the bulletin said. Such violations ”needlessly place lives at risk and degrade the effectiveness of our operations.”

The new guidelines were primarily designed to protect security of US military operations, the Army explained yesterday, noting that the advent of personal electronic communications has made it extremely difficult to keep a lock on the details of military operations and other data that could be useful to potential enemies.

The Pentagon has sought to provide soldiers with unprecedented access to electronic media in order to communicate with loved ones in the United States during their overseas tours. But such privileges have also been abused. In some cases they have led to major public relations disasters for the United States in the Muslim world, most notably when US prison guards at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison captured on the film the abuse of Iraq prisoners in 2003 and 2004.

If authenticated, the latest allegations could prove to be another setback for the Bush administration in the battle of images in the war on terrorism.

The photographs were allegedly posted by American troops on a pornographic website in return for free access to the pornographic images. Among the images are soldiers posing with a charred corpse, depictions of body parts, organs, and mutilated corpses. One shows smiling soldiers standing over what appears to be a badly burned corpse, with the caption ”Cooked Iraqi.” Another appears to show a bloody pulp where a driver’s head used to be.

Army spokesman Paul Boyce said such photography by US troops would be ”unacceptable.” But he said determining the authenticity of the photos may prove extremely difficult because they were posted anonymously and it is not clear where they were taken.

However, the operator of the website in question, Chris Wilson, has been contacted ”and we’re trying to sort it out,” Boyce said. Wilson, who lives in Florida, did not return several messages yesterday.

Meanwhile, President Bush warned yesterday that insurgent violence could rise in Iraq in advance of the planned Oct. 15 referendum on a new Iraqi constitution. After meeting in Washington yesterday with his top commanders in Iraq, Generals John Abizaid and George Casey, Bush said that ”we can expect [insurgents will] do everything in their power to try to stop the march of freedom. And our troops are ready for it.”

He also expressed new confidence in the ability of Iraqi security forces to take on more responsibility in battling the insurgency.

”The growing size and increasing capability of the Iraqi security forces are helping our coalition address the challenge we have faced since the beginning of the war,” Bush said.

However, Casey, the top US commander in Iraq, yesterday backed away from his prediction that a substantial pullout of US troops could begin by next spring.

Casey repeatedly has said ”fairly substantial” troop withdrawals could happen after parliamentary balloting in December, if the political process stayed on track, if the insurgency did not expand, and if the training of Iraqi security forces continued as planned.

After the commanders met with senators, reporters asked Casey whether he still believed that to be the case, given current conditions in Iraq.

”I think right now we’re in a period of a little greater uncertainty than when I was asked that question back in July and March,” Casey said. ”Until we’re done with this political process here with the referendum and the elections in December, I think it’s too soon to tell,” Casey said.

Bender can be reached at Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.  

Australian TV shows what it says are new photos of Abu Ghraib abuse

6:58 a.m. February 15, 2006 

A TV frame grab shows an image made available by Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) of what the broadcaster says is a detainee (left) in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison taken in 2003.

SYDNEY, Australia – An Australian television network broadcast photographs and video clips Wednesday that it said were previously unpublished images of the abuse of Iraqis held in U.S. military custody at Abu Ghraib prison in 2003.The images were taken at Abu Ghraib at about the same time as previously published photographs of Iraqi prisoner abuse, the Special Broadcasting Service’s “Dateline” program reported.

SBS refused to give details on the source of the photographs, and the authenticity of the images could not be verified independently.

The images shown by SBS were consistent with the earlier photographs of abuse by American soldiers, which triggered outrage in the Middle East and prompted a U.S. congressional investigation and military trials for some soldiers involved.

The network did not identify anyone shown in the images. However, several photos appear to show former Cpl. Charles Graner, Jr., who is serving a 10-year prison term at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., after being convicted of abusing Iraqi captives.

Men wearing combat-style uniforms and holding dogs on leashes appear in at least one image.

Many of the images broadcast Wednesday were more graphic than those previously published, showing what appear to be dead bodies, as well as wounded people and prisoners performing sex acts. SBS said the photographs of the dead bodies were of people who had died at the prison.

The SBS showed photographs of a bloodied cell block and a corpse, and said the man had been killed during a CIA interrogation.

One clip broadcast by SBS showed a group of naked men with bags over their heads standing together, masturbating. The network said the masturbation had been forced.

Another video, shot from several angles, showed a man described as mentally disturbed repeatedly beating his head against a wall.

A photograph showed a man with a deep cut on his neck, and another of the same man surrounded by men dressed in khaki shirts and pants, with one man pointing at the wound.

The Arab satellite station Al-Jazeera broadcast brief excerpts of the Australian footage, including the face of an Iraqi prisoner in agony, a hooded Iraqi male in his underwear, a naked figure lying on the floor next to what appeared to be a pool of blood and another with a man who appeared to be Graner smiling as he held one male prisoner.

The SBS broadcast said many of the new photos showed Graner having sex with Lynndie England, a 22-year-old reservist from Fort Ashby, W. Va., serving a three-year prison term for abusing detainees. England said Graner fathered her young son.

Those photos were not shown.

SBS said the images it showed were among photographs the American Civil Liberties Union was trying to obtain from the U.S. government under a Freedom of Information request.

A U.S. district court in September upheld the request in a ruling covering scores of photographs and several videotapes. Government lawyers said it was considering an appeal, and the images were not immediately released.

In a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press, SBS said the ACLU had not seen the images sought under the Freedom of Information request, so it had not been able to confirm whether they were the same as those broadcast Wednesday.

But the general description of the photographs the ACLU is seeking “is consistent with the photographs we are releasing,” the SBS statement said.

“’Dateline’ is confident in the credibility of the source of these new photographs and videos,” the SBS statement said. “They are entirely consistent with descriptions of the unreleased photographs and videos from various U.S. army reports into the abuses.”

At a Senate Armed Services Committee inquiry in May 2004, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld testified that not all known photographs of the abuses at Abu Ghraib had been released publicly.

“Beyond abuse of prisoners, there are other photos that depict incidents of physical violence toward prisoners, acts that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel and inhuman,” Rumsfeld said at the time.

New ‘Abu Ghraib abuse’ images screened

Mark Oliver and agencies
Wednesday February 15, 2006

An image screened on the Australian TV station SBS of purported torture at Abu Ghraib
An image screened on the Australian TV station SBS of purported torture at Abu Ghraib.
Photograph: Reuters

· See the photographs here: contains disturbing imagesPreviously unpublished images showing US troops apparently abusing detainees at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison in 2003 were broadcast today by an Australian television station.

Still and video images were broadcast on Dateline, a current affairs programme on SBS television, which appeared to show dead bodies and Iraqi prisoners being tortured by US troops.

In one piece of footage, an Iraqi detainee was seen slamming his head repeatedly into a metal door, with guards apparently unwilling to intervene and stop him.

A still image showed a naked detainee with 11 non-fatal gunshot wounds to his buttocks.

SBS said it had obtained a file of hundreds of images and that many of them depicted dead bodies, bloody injuries and acts of sexual humiliation that were too graphic to be aired.

In some of the film shown, naked male prisoners wearing hoods were seen being forced to masturbate in front of the camera.

The original photographs of abuse at Abu Ghraib caused worldwide outrage when they were leaked to US current affairs programme 60 Minutes in 2004. SBS said the new images were taken in late 2003 at around the same time as the previously publicised photographs, which included a series showing naked detainees arranged in “pyramids”.

A number of the new images showed US soldiers who have already been convicted in military trials over the abuse scandal at the prison, including Private Lynndie England and Charles Graner.

It had been known that more images of the abuse at Abu Ghraib existed.

At a Senate committee inquiry in May 2004, the US secretary of defence, Donald Rumsfeld, said that not all known photographs of the abuses at Abu Ghraib had been publicly released. Mr Rumsfeld told the inquiry: “Beyond abuse of prisoners, there are other photos that depict incidents of physical violence toward prisoners, acts that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel and inhuman.”

Dateline’s production team interviewed US Congress members who had been given a private viewing of all the images depicting abuse from Abu Ghraib, including those that had not been published in the media.

SBS refused to give details of the source of the photographs, but insisted it was confident of their credibility. It was impossible to independently confirm the images’ authenticity.

Producers said the new images were among photographs the American Civil Liberties Union was trying to obtain from the US government under a freedom of information request.

In September last year, a US district court upheld the request in a ruling covering scores of photographs and several videotapes. Government lawyers responded by saying an appeal was being considered, and the images were not immediately released.

Speaking on Dateline’s programme today, Amrit Singh, a lawyer for the the civil liberties union said she hoped the broadcast of the new images would provide pressure for high-ranking officials to be held accountable for “systematic and widespread abuse”.

In total, seven low-ranking US personnel have been disciplined over the images. Graner, a reservist, received the highest sentence and was jailed for 10 years.

There were reports Washington was trying to prevent the new images being broadcast in the US.

The photographs were quickly picked up by Arabic television stations. It was feared they could add to tensions stirred up by the Danish cartoon row and Sunday’s emergence of video showing British troops in Iraq apparently beating civilians in 2004.

British military police were today continuing to interview three British soldiers over a videotape obtained by the News of the World showing young Iraqis apparently being attacked in Amara, a town north of Basra, in January 2004.

The Royal Military Police arrested one person on Sunday night, and it detained two others yesterday as the investigation made “significant progress”.

The first soldier arrested was named by the BBC as Corporal Martin Webster of the 1st Battalion, Light Infantry, although it was not clear whether he was being interviewed as a witness or a perpetrator

February 15 2006: Previously unpublished images showing apparent abuse of detainees at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison in 2003 as broadcast by Australian television station SBS.

Special report: Iraq

Abu Ghraib Abu Ghraib
A detainee apparently being abused at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison in 2003.
Photograph: Reuters

Abu Ghraib Abu Ghraib
Detainees apparently being abused at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison in 2003.
Photograph: Reuters

Abu Ghraib Abu Ghraib
A detainee apparently abused at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison in 2003.
Photograph: Reuters

Abu Ghraib Abu Ghraib
A detainee apparently being abused at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison in 2003.
Photograph: Reuters

Abu Ghraib Abu Ghraib
A detainee apparently abused at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison in 2003.
Photograph: Reuters

Abu Ghraib Abu Ghraib
A detainee apparently being abused at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison in 2003.
Photograph: Reuters

Abu Ghraib Abu Ghraib
A detainee apparently being abused at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison in 2003.
Photograph: Reuters

Abu Ghraib Abu Ghraib
A detainee apparently covered in faeces at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison in 2003.
Photograph: Getty/AFP


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