25
Okt
2004

ACLU Receives Govt Documents On Abuses At US' Iraq Prisons

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

October 21, 2004

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP)--Poor living conditions for U.S. soldiers and an immersion in an unfamiliar culture may have contributed to abuses at U.S. detention facilities in Iraq, according to government documents released to the American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday.

The New York-based group received 6,000 pages of documents, one of which said that because of an "atmosphere of danger, promiscuity and negativity, the worst human qualities and behaviors came to the fore and a pervasive dominance came to prevail, especially at Abu Ghraib."

Abu Ghraib is the prison on the western outskirts of Baghdad where U.S. soldiers are accused of having abused Iraqi prisoners.

The same document cited instances where U.S.-contracted interpreters raped a male juvenile detainee and said military personnel operated in a "conspiracy of silence."

The document, prepared by an Air Force psychiatrist, was part of a previously unreleased annex to a report released earlier this year by Army Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba. His report found that some soldiers had committed "sadistic, blatant and wanton" criminal acts at Abu Ghraib.

The 6,000 pages were received about a year after the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request, said Amrit Singh, a staff attorney.

"After more than a year of stonewalling, the government has finally released some documents, though many are heavily redacted," Singh said. "The records confirm the abuse was widespread."

The documents stated that in certain areas of the prison abuse was commonplace. One platoon leader, whose name was redacted, allowed guards to carry illegal weapons.

Certain psychological factors for U.S. soldiers could have contributed to the abuse, the documents said, including poor living conditions at the prison, the physical danger in Iraq, the lack of command structure and the lack of understanding and respect for Islamic culture.

The report said U.S. troops were immersed in the Islamic culture, "a culture that many were encountering for a first time. Clearly there are major differences in worship and beliefs and there is the association of Muslims with terrorism. All these causes exaggerate difference and create misperceptions that can lead to fear or devaluation of a people."

The documents also said there needed to be a new support system for a new "psychological battlefield," where military personnel are faced with factors that include "negativity, anger, hatred and desire to dominate and humiliate."

Some of the documents were posted on the ACLU's Web site, and the group said the remaining documents would be posted soon.

Other documents cite details of abuse at other U.S. detention facilities including outposts in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.


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