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Indybay Feature
Fri May 7 2004
Pictures Emerge Of US And UK Torture Of Iraqi Prisoners
Torture In Iraq
5/7/2004: On Wednesday April 28th, CBS aired footage showing US abuse of Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison. The pictures showed Iraqis with electrical wires strapped to their genitals, prisoners forced to simulate or engage in sex acts, and at least one person who appeared to have been tortured to death. As Bush and Blair denounced the incidents but claimed they were isolated, more examples of torture have come to light. On April 30th, Seymour Hersh detailed many additional abuses in an article in the New Yorker. Hersh based his article off of a report by General Antonio M. Taguba completed in late February but classified such that it was never seen by the US Congress until it appeared online. On May 6, the Washington Post published additional pictures and on May 7th an ICRC report on US torture of prisoners in Iraq was leaked to the Wall Street Journal and during hearings in Washington, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld admitted many more cases of torture had taken place and many more pictures and video could appear soon.

The torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib has resulted in the passing of blame between soldiers, officers, contractors and intelligence agencies. The most visible people taking the blame are the soldiers shown in pictures: Staff Sgt. Ivan "Chip" Frederick, Sgt. Javal Davis, Spec. Charles A. Graner Jr., Spec. Sabrina Harman, Spec. Jeremy Sivits, and Spec. Lynndie England. All six of these soliders are from the Army Reserve's 372nd Military Police Company based in Cumberland, Md. The 372nd Company was commanded by Captain Donald Reese and is part of the 800th Military Police Brigade. Another person taking a lot of the blame is Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski who was in charge of several jails and commander of the 800th Brigade, but she claims that "military intelligence officials who were not under her command had condoned the abuse." The Taguba Report also singles out for blame Colonel Thomas Pappas and Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade and private defence contractor/interrogators Steven Stephanowicz, Adel Nakhla, Torin Nelson and John Israel. The private contractors are believed to be from CACI International, Inc. based in Arlington, Virginia, and Titan which is based in San Diego, California. Lt. Col. Jerry L. Phillabaum and Maj. David W. DiNenna Sr. of the 320th Military Police Battalion and First Lt. Lewis C. Raeder, a platoon leader in the 372nd have also been mentioned as possibly being responsible for abuse at the prison.

For the past year, many Iraqis and independent reporters have been documenting abuses by "coalition" forces, but the mainstream US media has been largely unwilling to talk to ordinary Iraqis and has instead chosen to rely on embedded reporters and interviews with US military experts. Media in the Middle East has done a better job at talking to Iraqis and revealing the real costs of war, but that could change as the US government is putting pressure on governments in the region to restrict coverage of news that might hurt US interests.
Taguba Report (text and pdf) | Red Cross (ICRC) Report (pdf) | Amnesty International | The New Yorker: Torture At Abu Ghraib | Reportback From Iraq: Analysis of Prison Abuses | PHOTOS | AUDIO from Enemy Combatant Radio
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