$106.00 donated in past month
From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: Iraq | International
Photos of US Torture of Iraqi Prisoners At The Abu Ghraib Prison In Iraq
Graphic photographs showing the torture and sexual abuse of Iraqi prisoners in a US-run prison outside Baghdad emerged yesterday from a military inquiry which has left six soldiers facing a possible court martial and a general under investigation.
The scandal has also brought to light the growing and largely unregulated role of private contractors in the interrogation of detainees.
According to lawyers for some of the soldiers, they claimed to be acting in part under the instruction of mercenary interrogators hired by the Pentagon.
US military investigators discovered the photographs, which include images of a hooded prisoner with wires fixed to his body, and nude inmates piled in a human pyramid.
The pictures, which were obtained by an American TV network, also show a dog attacking a prisoner and other inmates being forced to simulate sex with each other. It is thought the abuses took place in November and December last year.
Lawyers for the soldiers argue they are being made scapegoats for a rogue military prison system in which mercenaries give orders without legal accountability.
A military report into the Abu Ghraib case - parts of which were made available to the Guardian - makes it clear that private contractors were supervising interrogations in the prison, which was notorious for torture and executions under Saddam Hussein.
One civilian contractor was accused of raping a young male prisoner but has not been charged because military law has no jurisdiction over him.
Hired guns from a wide array of private security firms are playing a central role in the US-led occupation of Iraq.
The killing of four private contractors in Falluja on March 31 led to the current siege of the city.
But this is the first time the privatisation of interrogation and intelligence-gathering has come to light. The investigation names two US contractors, CACI International Inc and the Titan Corporation, for their involvement in Abu Ghraib.
Titan, based in San Diego, describes itself as a "a leading provider of comprehensive information and communications products, solutions and services for national security". It recently won a big contract for providing translation services to the US army.
CACI, which has headquarters in Virginia, claims on its website to "help America's intelligence community collect, analyse and share global information in the war on terrorism".
Neither responded to calls for comment yesterday.
According to the military report on Abu Ghraib, both played an important role at the prison.
Colonel Jill Morgenthaler, speaking for central command, told the Guardian: "One contractor was originally included with six soldiers, accused for his treatment of the prisoners, but we had no jurisdiction over him. It was left up to the contractor on how to deal with him."
She did not specify the accusation facing the contractor, but according to several sources with detailed knowledge of the case, he raped an Iraqi inmate in his mid-teens.
Full Text Of Taguba Report
Full Text Of ICRC Report
Photos From The New Yorker
Seymour Hersh's Story In The New Yorker
60 Minutes II Report:
Video from 60 Minutes II:
More Pictures From The Washington Post
More On Indybay's Iraq Page:
Lots of similar scenes are still hidden... What we have seen today is just a sample
Yemeni human rights activist
"Savage" images showing US troops abusing Iraqi prisoners have been denounced by Arab media and observers.
The pictures, aired by CBS, apparently show naked prisoners being forced to simulate sex acts and standing with wires attached to their genitals.
Shock has not characterised all responses. Some commentators professed to be unsurprised.
Qatar-based TV channel Al-Jazeera said the images showed the "unethical and inhuman" conduct of American soldiers.
Al-Arabiya TV condemned the "humiliating" pictures, which demonstrated the soldiers' "savagery".
Both TV stations have been running old footage of examples of heavy-handed conduct by US soldiers in Iraq.
What will happen to this handful of soldiers who were caught? Brigadier General Janice Karpinsky who ran the Abu Ghraib prison for the Army has been suspended and six soldiers face court martial in Iraq and possible prison time. Yeah right. In others words – a slap on the wrist maybe. “A full investigation” means the matter will disappear from the public eye and disappear through the bureaucratic slight of hand.
The real facts are that there is report after report of US abuses; on the internet, in the back pages of our newspapers, in personal accounts that with a little luck will now make their way to mainstream press. This is not an isolated few – this is business as usual for the US military and their collaborating band of thugs in Iraq. Is it any wonder that bodies of US soldiers who fall into Iraqi hands are mutilated and displayed?
The pictures of US soldiers dishonoring Iraqi detainees came as no surprise to JUS. We have been reporting alleged abuses since shortly after the fall of Baghdad. We received several reports over the past months of US soldiers raping Iraqi woman, only to find these photos posted to US porn sites. While these photos and reports were put down to “loose” Iraqi women (which shows a fundamental understanding of Iraq’s religion and culture) we discovered later that those who were detained, some at Abu Ghraib prison, who refused to provide US officials with intelligence where given a prod to garner “cooperation” by rounding up the female relatives, forcing then into sexual acts that were filmed and then shown to their husbands, fathers and brothers and to the general public through porn sites. Now the CBS 60 Minutes II report legitimizes the incidents we have been reporting all along.
"There must be a fully independent, impartial and public investigation into all allegations of torture. Nothing less will suffice. If Iraq is to have a sustainable and peaceful future, human rights must be a central component of the way forward. The message must be sent loud and clear that those who abuse human rights will be held accountable.
A US general responsible for four jails in Iraq has been suspended pending an investigation into alleged abuse of her prisoners.
Brigadier General Janis Karpinski is among seven officers facing charges that soldiers under their command mistreated detainees.
The suspension follows shocking US television images of US soldiers stacking prisoners on top of each other and even applying electrodes to one at Abu Ghuraib prison near Baghdad.
Another reservist, Lynndie R. England, 21, told her mother in January about potential problems at the Iraq prison.
England grew up in a trailer down a dirt road behind a saloon and a sheep farm in Fort Ashby, W.Va., a one-stoplight town about 13 miles south of Cumberland.
Yesterday afternoon, her mother, Terrie England, pressed her fingers to her lips when a reporter showed her a newspaper photo of her daughter smiling in front of what a caption said were nude Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.
"Oh, my God," she said, her body stiffening as she sat on a cooler on the trailer's small stoop.
"I can't get over this," she said, taking a drag on her cigarette.
Lynndie England, a railroad worker's daughter who made honor roll at the high school near here, had enlisted in the 372nd for college money and the chance to widen her small-town horizons. In January, however, she gave her family the first inkling that something had gone woefully wrong.
"I just want you to know that there might be some trouble," she warned her mother in a phone call from Baghdad. "But I don't want you to worry."
Lynndie England said she was under orders to say no more. The military has told the family nothing; all the Englands know is that she has been detained, apparently in connection with the unit's alleged misconduct at the prison.
"Whether she's charged or not, I don't know," Terrie England said.
This was not supposed to be the fate of a girl who grew up hunting turkey or killing time with her sister at the local Dairy Dip, making wisecracks about the cars whizzing past.
"She wanted to see the world and go to college," said Terrie England, whose T-shirt bore a design of heart-shaped American flags. "Now the government turned their back on her, and everything's a big joke."
She held photos of her daughter in khakis, smiling atop a camel in Iraq.
At most, the 372nd's alleged abuses of prisoners were "stupid, kid things - pranks," Terrie England said, her voice growing bitter. "And what the [Iraqis] do to our men and women are just? The rules of the Geneva Convention, does that apply to everybody or just us?"
Everyone had been proud of Lynndie England. A Wal-Mart in nearby LaVale displays her photo on its Wall of Honor. The Mineral County courthouse in Keyser, W.Va., posts her photograph and those of other local soldiers under a banner that says: "We're hometown proud."
Lynndie England had found purpose, and love, in the Army. She got engaged last year to a fellow member of the 372nd, Charles Graner, who appears with his arm around her in the newspaper photo.
Now, Lynndie England is detained on a U.S. base - her family declined to say where - and is barred from leaving for anything besides her job. She has been demoted from the rank of specialist to private first class. And when she calls home, she says frustratingly little.
Destiny Goin said the Army had trained her sister Lynndie for an administrative job, "a paper pusher." Instead, she wound up helping to guard 900 Iraqi prisoners of war in a sprawling, squalid compound near Baghdad.
"60 Minutes II" identified one of the implicated soldiers as Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Ivan "Chip" Frederick, who described to Rather what he saw in the Iraqi prison. "We had no support, no training whatsoever, and I kept asking my chain of command for certain things, rules and regulations, and it just wasn't happening," Frederick said.
Frederick is a member of the 372nd Military Police Company based in Cumberland, Md., said Maj. Greg Yesko, public affairs officer for the 99th regional readiness command. The 800th brigade includes the 372nd company, Yesko said.
Frederick was a correctional officer at Buckingham Correctional Center before being called up for active duty, Department of Corrections spokesman Larry Traylor said.
"60 Minutes II" reported Frederick will plead not guilty to charges including maltreatment and assault, claiming the way the Army operated the prison led to the abuse of prisoners. He also said he did not see a copy of the Geneva Convention rules for handling prisoners of war until after he was charged, the show reported.
The show also quoted from an e-mail which Frederick reportedly sent to his family in which he said of Iraqi prisoners: "We've had a very high rate with our styles of getting them to break; they usually end up breaking within hours."
Former Iraqi prisoners told The Associated Press last November of mistreatment in detention, including beatings and punishments that included hours of lying bound in the sun.
Amnesty International, the London human rights group, said in March that many former detainees in Iraq claimed to have been tortured and ill-treated by coalition troops during interrogation.
Methods often reported, it said, included prolonged sleep deprivation, beatings, exposure to loud music and prolonged periods of being covered by a hood.
Meanwhile, the lawyer for the accused Virginig soldier said he has been treated unfairly by the Army.
"They're trying to portray him as a monster," William Lawson said of Frederick, his nephew. "He's just the guy they put in charge of the prison."
Lawson, of Newburg, W.Va., and Frederick's wife, Martha, of Buckingham, Va., said Frederick was being made a scapegoat for commanders who gave him no guidance on managing hundreds of Iraqi prisoners with just a handful of poorly equipped soldiers.
"It's sort of like he's taking the full brunt," Martha Frederick said.
A 37-year-old 10-year veteran of the reserves, Frederick is "a very passive person," Lawson said. "If nothing else, he, in this situation, was very naive." Frederick's civilian lawyer, Washington-based Gary Myers, said he has urged the commanding general in Iraq to treat the case as an administrative matter, like those of seven officers who were also investigated.
"I can assure you Chip Frederick had no idea how to humiliate an Arab until he met up" with higher-ranking people who told him how, Myers said.
Lawson, acting as a family spokesman, said Frederick and the other MPs were ordered to "loosen up the prisoners" for interrogation by others. Lawson speculated that the MPs took the photographs to show to other prisoners to get them to talk.
Now British army is in the dock as Allies outrage world opinion
By Rupert Cornwell in Washington
01 May 2004
As pictures of American soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners caused outrage across the world yesterday, human rights rights campaigners warned that they were just the tip of the iceberg.
The international rights group Amnesty International claimed it had received numerous accounts of torture and illegal detention by troops.
Prison Where Saddam's Victims Died in Their Thousands
By Ju-Lin Tan, PA News
Abu Ghraib prison, where Iraqi detainees were pictured being tortured and abused by United States soldiers, was one of the country’s most notorious jails under Saddam Hussein’s regime.
Executions and torture were known to have taken place regularly at the sprawling detention centre, which lies some 18 miles west of Baghdad.
It is believed thousands of inmates were shot, hanged or electrocuted there during Saddam’s 23 years in power.
Torture pictures blow US cause
London, April 30 (Reuters): Photos of US soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners drew international condemnation today, prompting the stark conclusion that the American campaign to win the hearts and minds of Iraqis is a lost cause.
“This is the straw that broke the camel’s back for America,” said Abdel-Bari Atwan, editor of the Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi. “The liberators are worse than the dictators. They have not just lost the hearts and minds of Iraqis but all the Third World and the Arab countries,” he said.
At the same time, the fact that US soldiers are employing methods similar to those used by the Nazis in World War II is indicative of a deep-seated state of demoralization and degradation that the occupation has bred within the US military. Finding themselves in a hostile environment with the vast majority of Iraqis opposing the occupation, many American soldiers have come to see the country’s entire population as the enemy. Fed lies about the colonial intervention in Iraq being part of a global “war on terrorism,” some have also assumed a license to torture and humiliate their helpless captives.
Contrary to Kimmitt’s claims—slavishly echoed by the corporate media—this is the logic and modus operandi of imperialist conquest and colonial occupation. The pictures of torture, brutality and sexual sadism are representative of the entire criminal operation being conducted in Iraq.
Rahul Mahajan :
April 29, 12:30 pm EST. This morning I was on MSNBC News in a "debate" about the shocking (but not surprising if you had been talking to Iraqis) degradation and abuse of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison committed by U.S. personnel.
This included taking numerous pictures of American soldiers posing with naked Iraqi prisoners placed in degrading postures, an Iraqi prisoner with a hood over his head and wires attached to him (see above; thanks to Unfairwitness), and much more. If you missed the 60 Minutes II segment last night, when you click on the link above, you'll see a link to streaming video of part of the segment, including some pictures. You have to see it for yourselves.
The official reaction is clear. Here's the reaction from Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, the same guy who said "95 percent" of the Iraqi casualties in Fallujah were fighters without going to a hospital or looking at a cemetery in the town:
"So what would I tell the people of Iraq? This is wrong. This is reprehensible. But this is not representative of the 150,000 soldiers that are over here," adds Kimmitt. "I'd say the same thing to the American people... Don't judge your army based on the actions of a few."
Iraqis, who have seen for themselves the conduct of American soldiers, will never believe this.
One of the abusive soldiers, Chip Frederick, sent home these messages over the months that he was posted at Abu Ghraib:
"Military intelligence has encouraged and told us 'Great job.' "
"They usually don't allow others to watch them interrogate. But since they like the way I run the prison, they have made an exception."
"We help getting them to talk with the way we handle them. ... We've had a very high rate with our style of getting them to break. They usually end up breaking within hours."
This suggests pretty clearly that torture and degrading punishment are part of standard policy, because they help to make prisoners break under interrogation.
The debate was framed as one over whether the soldiers should be punished. This shows something seriously wrong with the political culture to start with. There's obviously no excuse for these acts, even if the soldiers were ordered to perform them. The question should simply be how high up the chain of command the investigation goes and how broadly in other prison facilities.
30 April 2004 – United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan is "deeply disturbed" by images appearing in the media of Iraqi prisoners being mistreated and humiliated by United States prison guards, his spokesman said today.
The Secretary-General "hopes that this was an isolated incident and welcomes what appears to be a clear determination on the part of the US military to bring those responsible to justice, and to prevent such abuses in the future," spokesman Fred Eckhard said.
When asked by reporters yesterday about the programme, Mr. Eckhard said, "The kinds of things discussed there, the abuse of prisoners, could be the kind of thing that would be investigated or would be included in a report on human rights in Iraq that the Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights [Bertrand Ramcharan] said last Friday he intended to produce."
Mr. Ramcharan's remarks came at the closing session of the Commission on Human Rights, when he said he would initiate a report on rights and armed conflict in Iraq after the Commission had puzzlingly excluded it in its decisions.
"It is a perplexing and troubling omission. There must be accountability in warfare. At this point in time there is no international monitoring of the human rights situation in Iraq, whether it be in respect of terrorism or in respect of the use of force and the treatment of civilians," he said.
Pictures showing abuse of Iraqi prisoners have sparked shock among officials and triggered condemnation of US foreign policy.
The office of Prime Minister Tony Blair, the US strongest ally in its war in Iraq, condemned the abuses.
His comments on Friday came after an American television network broadcast images of Iraqis stripped naked, hooded and being tormented by their captors.
The Ministry of Defence has launched an investigation into allegations that British soldiers have been pictured torturing an Iraqi prisoner.
The photographs, obtained by the Daily Mirror newspaper, show a suspected thief being beaten and urinated on.
More pictures and coverage of torture by British troops:
WASHINGTON, May 1 — The Army Reserve general whose military police officers were photographed as they mistreated Iraqi prisoners said Saturday that she had been "sickened" by the pictures and had known nothing about the sexual humiliation and other abuse until weeks later.
But the officer, Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski of the 800th Military Police Brigade, said the special high-security cellblock at the Abu Ghraib prison, west of Baghdad, where the abuses took place had been under the tight control of a separate group of military intelligence officers who had so far avoided any public blame.
In her first public comments about the brutality — which drew wide attention and condemnation after photographs documenting it were broadcast Wednesday night by CBS News — General Karpinski said that while the reservists involved were "bad people" and deserved punishment, she suspected they were acting with the encouragement, if not at the direction, of military intelligence units that ran the special cellblock used for interrogation.
Speaking in a telephone interview from her home in South Carolina, the general said military commanders in Iraq were trying to shift the blame exclusively to her and the reservists.
She said that the floor space of the two-story cellblock was only about 40 feet by 20 feet, and that military intelligence officers were in and out of the cellblock "24 hours a day."
"They were in there at 2 in the morning, they were at 4 in the afternoon," said General Karpinski, who arrived in Iraq last June and who was the only woman to hold a command in the war zone. "This was no 9-to-5 job."
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.
More Pictures And Story From The W Post
A phrase reading in Arabic, 'I am the law', is written on the helmet of a US soldier as he secures the site of a car bomb explosion at a checkpoint on a bridge at the entrance of the Coalition Provisional Authority headquarters in Baghdad.(AFP/Karim Sahib)
Many of the prisoners abused at the Abu Ghraib prison were innocent Iraqis, picked up at random by US troops and incarcerated by underqualified intelligence officers, a former US interrogator from the jail told the Guardian.
He claimed many of the detainees are "innocent of any acts against the coalition".
"One case in point is a detainee whom I recommended for release and months later was still sitting in the same tent with no change in his status."
Mr Nelson said that the same systemic problems were also responsible for large numbers of Afghans being mistakenly swept into Guantánamo Bay. He estimated that a third or more of the inmates at the controversial prison camp had no connection to terrorism.
"There are people who should never have been sent over there. I was involved in the process of reviewing people for possible release and I can say definitely that they should have been released and released a lot sooner," he said.
Such allegations have been made before by victims' families and human rights groups, but Mr Nelson's story represents the first insider's account by a US interrogator. It amounts to an indictment of a system gone awry, and contradicts claims by the White House and the Pentagon that Abu Ghraib does not represent a systemic problem.
"A unit goes out on a raid and they have a target and the target is not available; they just grab anybody because that was their job," Mr Nelson said, referring to counter-insurgency operations in Iraq. "The troops are under a lot of stress and they don't know one guy from the next. They're not cultural experts. All they want is to count down the days and hopefully go home.
"I've read reports from capturing units where the capturing unit wrote, 'the target was not at home. The neighbour came out to see what was going on and we grabbed him'," he said.
According to Mr Nelson's account, the victims' very innocence made them more likely to be abused, because the interrogators refused to believe they could have been picked up on such arbitrary grounds. Interrogators "weren't interested in going through the less glamorous work of sifting through the chaff to get to the kernels of truth from the willing detainees; they were interested in 'breaking' tough targets", he said.
One of the new photographs shows a young soldier, wearing a dark jacket over his uniform and smiling into the camera, in the corridor of the jail. In the background are two Army dog handlers, in full camouflage combat gear, restraining two German shepherds. The dogs are barking at a man who is partly obscured from the camera’s view by the smiling soldier. Another image shows that the man, an Iraqi prisoner, is naked. His hands are clasped behind his neck and he is leaning against the door to a cell, contorted with terror, as the dogs bark a few feet away. Other photographs show the dogs straining at their leashes and snarling at the prisoner. In another, taken a few minutes later, the Iraqi is lying on the ground, writhing in pain, with a soldier sitting on top of him, knee pressed to his back. Blood is streaming from the inmate’s leg. Another photograph is a closeup of the naked prisoner, from his waist to his ankles, lying on the floor. On his right thigh is what appears to be a bite or a deep scratch. There is another, larger wound on his left leg, covered in blood.
Spc. Charles Graner of the 372nd Military Police Company smiles as he poses by the body of Manadel al-Jamadi, an Iraqi who died in U.S. custody at Abu Ghraib prison.
Spc. Sabrina Harman, also of the 372nd Military Police Company, gives a thumbs-up sign by the body of Iraqi detainee Manadel al-Jamadi.
WARNING: The following graphic depictions include nudity. Viewer discretion is advised.
In this undated still photo, a naked Iraqi detainee appears to be cuffed at the ankles and covered with an unknown brownish substance under the guard of a baton-weilding U.S. soldier, inside the Abu Ghraib Prison, west of Baghdad. Hundreds of unreleased photographs and short digital videos depict U.S. soldiers using a wide variety of abusive techniques at Iraq 's Abu Ghraib prison and appearing to enjoy the mistreatment, The Washington Post reported on May 21, 2004. The new pictures and videos, which the newspaper said amplified the picture of violence in the prison and go beyond the photos previously shown in the media. Photos and videos from Abu Ghraib were presented to Army investigators in January. The images began surfacing publicly last month, severely damaging the United States' reputation in the Arab world.
In this undated still photo, a hooded Iraqi detainee appears to be cuffed at the ankle and chained to a door handle, inside the Abu Ghraib Prison, west of Baghdad.
In this undated still photo, a hooded Iraqi detainee appears to be cuffed at both wrists and collapsed over a rail inside the Abu Ghraib Prison, west of Baghdad.
This undated still photo provided by The Washington Post on Friday, May 21, 2004, shows an unidentified U.S. soldier poised to punch a detainee at Abu Ghraib prison on the outskirts of Baghdad, as other hooded detainees lay bound at the hands.
This undated still photo made available by The Washington Post on Friday May 21, 2004, shows a U.S. soldier holding a dog in front an Iraqi detainee at Abu Ghraib prison on the outskirts of Baghdad.