US Soldier Took Torture Photos 'Just for Fun'

8/4 Abu Ghraib Updates: Witness Say US Soldier Took Torture Photos 'Just for Fun'

News Updates from Peace No War Network Military Watch
URL: http://www.PeaceNoWar.net

Photos on the Abu Ghraib Torture:

Report from Baghdad, July 2003

Witness: Iraq Abuse Photos 'Just for Fun'
.c The Associated Press

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) - Pfc. Lynndie England was ``having some fun,'' not following orders, when she posed in photos pointing, smiling and giving the thumbs-up to naked Iraqi detainees, investigators told a military court.

The testimony in a pretrial hearing Tuesday was part of a government strategy to portray England as one of a handful of rogue Army reservists who took it upon themselves to abuse detainees at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

Rebutting the defense claim that England was acting on orders from higher-ups to break down prisoners for questioning, Army investigators testified that the naked detainees shown with her in human pyramids and tethered to a leash were common criminals of little or no value to interrogators - abused only for sport.

Investigator Paul Arthur testified that when he interviewed England about the photos three months before they became public, she told him they were taken while ``they were joking around, having some fun, during the night shift.''

Arthur said he believed the reservists from the 372nd Military Police Company, based on Cresaptown, Md., were responding to the stress of being in a war zone. Just before the pictures were taken in October 2003, there had been a prison riot and some soldiers had been injured.

"It was just for fun, kind of venting their frustration,'' Arthur testified.

But when asked if that assessment applied to England, Arthur replied: "She never mentioned that she was frustrated. She said it was more for fun.''

Defense attorney Rick Hernandez contends the government is trying to shift its responsibility to a lowly private for a scandal that has stirred outrage in the Arab world.

But the prosecution's case is flawed, he said, because investigators didn't look into allegations "at other camps where my client has never been. ... All the information out there indicates it is a systematic problem.''

Hernandez countered contentions that England was having fun, saying she was smiling because in a prison "you don't go around looking scared.''

He was especially angry about testimony about additional photos for which England is charged showing her engaged in "oral sodomy'' with a soldier, nude by a pool, and waving her breasts in front of a sleeping soldier.

Hernandez said they were "private intimate photos that should have been kept that way,'' adding they were no worse than what someone might see at Mardi Gras or spring break.

The military Article 32 hearing, expected to last through the week, will determine whether a court-martial goes forward against England on 13 counts of abusing detainees and six counts stemming from possession of sexually explicit photos. The maximum possible sentence is 38 years in prison.

England is one of seven reservists from the 372nd who have been charged in the scandal. One, Spc. Jeremy C. Sivits, has already pleaded guilty and been sentenced to a year in prison.

Spc. Charles A. Graner Jr., 35, another soldier in England's unit, also has been charged with abuses and was involved in a romantic relationship with England; he faces adultery charges for allegedly having sex with England last October. England's lawyers have said she is pregnant with Graner's child.

08/04/04 02:44 EDT

More on the Abu Ghraib Updates..
1) The Secret File of Abu Ghraib (Rolling Stone Magazine)
2) Abu Ghraib general claims conspiracy (Associated Press)
3) Unit hit by Abu Ghraib scandal goes home (Associated Press)

1) The Secret File of Abu Ghraib
New classified documents implicate U.S. forces in rape and sodomy of Iraqi prisoners
Rolling Stone Magazine, July 28, 2004

2) Abu Ghraib general claims conspiracy
Aug 3, 2004

LONDON -- The general who headed the U.S. military prison at Abu Ghraib said in an interview broadcast Tuesday that there had been a conspiracy to prevent her knowing about prisoner abuse at the jail.

Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who was suspended by the Pentagon in May, has denied knowing about any mistreatment prisoners until photographs surfaced at the end of April. U.S. investigators have not implicated Karpinski directly in any of the abuses.

Karpinski told British Broadcasting Corp. radio that she had information suggesting officials took action to keep her in the dark about the mistreatment.

"I have been told there's a reliable witness who's made a statement ... indicating that not only was I not included in any of the meetings discussing interrogation operations, but specific measures were taken to ensure I would not have access to those facilities, that information or any of the details of interrogations at Abu Ghraib or anywhere else," Karpinski said. She didn't identify the witness.

"Correct," Karpinski responded when asked if she thought there was a conspiracy at senior level to stop her knowing what was going on.

"From what I understand ... it was people that had full knowledge of what was going on out at Abu Ghraib who knew that they had to keep Janis Karpinski from discovering any of those activities," she added.

Asked whether she thought the conspiracy reached up to the Pentagon or the White House, she said: "The indication is that it may have."

Karpinski also dismissed an Iraqi man's allegation in a federal lawsuit that she witnessed abuses at Abu Ghraib. In a videotaped deposition, Saddam "Sam" Saleh Aboud said he endured beatings at the prison. During one session, his hood was removed and he said he saw Karpinski.

She rejected that claim.

"There's no truth to his statement," Karpinski told the BBC. "There was never a time when I witnessed any abuse at Abu Ghraib or at any other facility anywhere.

"I was never at a location where, if a prisoner was in a detention cell, he would have been hooded. That never took place."

She added that for security reasons she had never visited Abu Ghraib after dark and that she now believed most of the abuse had occurred in the early hours of the morning.

A military hearing opened Tuesday in the United States to begin gathering evidence to see if one of the soldiers in the photographs, Pfc. Lynndie England, should be court-martialed. She was photographed smiling and giving the thumbs-up sign in the presence of naked, hooded detainees.

3) Unit hit by Abu Ghraib scandal goes home
August 4, 2004
Associated Press

PETERSBURG, Va. (AP) - Members of the Army reserve unit at the center of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal returned home from Iraq to a patriotic welcome, with their commanding officer saying their accomplishments shouldn't be overlooked.

"We've done a lot of really, really good things," Capt. Donald J. Reese, commander of the 372nd Military Police Company, said Monday as more than 100 members of the company, based in Cresaptown, Md., were reunited with their families at the Fort Lee Army base in Petersburg, Va.

Family members in bleachers yelled and waved flags as the reservists marched into an old airplane hangar, many with solemn expressions. A giant American flag hung from the rafters and a military band played patriotic songs. Some held signs with messages such as "We love our MP's" and "God bless that you're safe."

After listening to a brief ceremony, the soldiers hugged family members and did not speak with the media, although the Army said some members will be available later this week.

Reese said the scandal, which has ensnared seven company members, "definitely made it more difficult, but we got through it. I'm sure the military justice system will sort it all out." Reese himself was criticized in an Army report for failing to adequately supervise his soldiers.

Informant: SIUHIN


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