Skip to comments.Handful of Soldiers Spoke Out, as Many Kept Quiet on Abuse
Posted on 05/21/2004 8:44:39 PM PDT by conservative in nyc
May 22, 2004
Handful of Soldiers Spoke Out, as Many Kept Quiet on AbuseBy KATE ZERNIKE
pecialist Joseph M. Darby had just arrived at Abu Ghraib in October when his friend, Specialist Charles A. Graner Jr., showed him a picture on his digital camera, of a naked prisoner chained to his cell with his arms hung above him.
"The Christian in me says it's wrong," Specialist Darby would later tell investigators Specialist Graner had said. Specialist Darby said Specialist Graner then said that as a corrections officer he enjoyed it.
Specialist Darby came forward two months later, he told investigators, after deciding that the photo and others he saw were "morally wrong." He said in his sworn testimony: "I knew I had to do something. I didn't want to see any more prisoners being abused because I knew it was wrong."
Specialist Darby's report would initiate the investigation into mistreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and other military facilities in Iraq and raise questions about whether the misconduct was authorized by military officials.
In alerting criminal investigators, Specialist Darby, a 24-year-old from from Maryland, stood out from other soldiers who learned of the abuse. According to documents obtained by The New York Times, many other people, including medics, dog handlers and military intelligence soldiers and even the warden of the site where the abuses occurred saw or heard of similar pictures of abuse, witnessed it or heard abuse discussed openly at Abu Ghraib months before the investigation started in January.
Mistreatment was not only widely known but also apparently tolerated, so much so that a picture of naked detainees forced into a human pyramid was used as a screen saver on a computer in the interrogations room. Other soldiers easily stumbled onto photographs of naked detainees left on computers in the Internet cafe at the prison. Some soldiers saw detainees being left naked for days, screamed at, threatened with dogs and beaten with furniture. A few made attempts to report or stop abuse, but nothing came of it.
"I saw prisoners being handcuffed to each other naked, having two inmates walking in the isolation section of the cells naked and handcuffed to each other," said Specialist Roman Krol, a reservist with the 325th Military Intelligence Battalion. "One of the M.P.'s took a Nerf football and threw it at the detainees, and another M.P. threw water at the detainees. I had never seen anything like that before."
Specialist Darby left a disc with the photographs and a letter describing its contents anonymously, then came forward a day later. When asked why he wanted to be anonymous, he said, "I was worried about retaliation from other people in my company if they found out." The seven soldiers charged in the investigation are all from his unit, the 372nd Military Police Company based in Cresaptown, Md.
Much of the evidence of abuse at the prison came from medical documents. Records and statements show doctors and medics reporting to the area of the prison where the abuse occurred several times to stitch wounds, tend to collapsed prisoners or see patients with bruised or reddened genitals. Two doctors recognized that a detainee's shoulder was hurt because he had his arms handcuffed over his head for what they said was "a long period." They gave him an injection of painkiller, and sent him to an outside hospital for what appeared to be a dislocated shoulder, but did not report any suspicions of abuse. One medic, Staff Sgt. Reuben Layton, told investigators that he had found the detainee handcuffed in the same position on three separate occasions, despite instructing Specialist Graner to free him.
"I feel I did the right thing when I told Graner to get the detainee uncuffed from the bed," he told investigators. Sergeant Layton also said he witnessed Specialist Graner hitting a metal baton against the leg wounds of a detainee who had been shot. He did not report that incident.
Sgt. Neil Wallin, another medic, recorded on Nov. 14: "Patient has blood down front of clothes and sandbag over head," noting three wounds requiring 13 stitches, above his eye, on his nose and on his chin.
He later told investigators that when he got to the prison: "I observed blood on the wall near a metal weld, which I believed to be the place where the detainee received his injury. I do not know how he was injured or if it was done by himself or another." He also told investigators that he had seen male detainees forced to wear women's underwear and that he had seen a video in which a prisoner known to smear himself with his own feces repeatedly banged his head against the wall, "very hard."
Helga Margot Aldape-Moreno, a nurse, told investigators that in September she reported to the cell to tend to a prisoner having a panic attack, and opening the door, saw naked Iraqis in a human pyramid, with sandbags over their heads. Military police officers were yelling at the detainees. She tended to the prisoner, then left the room and did not report what she saw until the investigation began in January.
In the first week of November, Specialist Matthew Wisdom told investigators later, he witnessed detainees being thrown into a pile, and Specialist Graner and Staff Sgt. Ivan L. Frederick II punching several of them. He said he reported what he saw to his team leader. The team leader said he would talk to Sergeant Frederick who has since been charged with abuse and described as one of the ringleaders of the mistreatment. Specialist Wisdom said he asked not to work in that site anymore.
The names of Specialist Graner, who was also charged in the abuse, and Sergeant Frederick are woven through the statements from witnesses and detainees. Witnesses told investigators it was widely known that Specialist Graner had explicit photographs and videos on his computer.
Sergeant Layton told investigators that Specialist Graner borrowed his computer to download photographs. When Sergeant Layton discovered that the photographs were sexually explicit, he told investigators, he told Specialist Graner he could not use the computer. Cpl. Matthew Bolinger told them of Specialist Graner's pulling a disc from beneath his mattress, revealing on it a video of him having sex with an unidentified woman.
Specialist Hannah Schlegel reported that another soldier went to her in November, upset, because he had seen two prisoners naked and tied together and forced to crawl like dogs on leashes. She reported the concerns to a sergeant, who said he would report the allegations to the officer in charge. The report apparently went nowhere, perhaps, an investigator said later, because the officer in charge was Sergeant Frederick.
Adel Nakhla, a translator for the Titan Corporation, witnessed detainees being held naked for days, and later, naked detainees forced to crawl and lie on top of one another. "Why did you not report what you felt was abuse toward the prisoners?" an investigator asked him in January, after Specialist Darby had handed over the discs with photographs. "I have seen soldiers get in trouble for reporting abuse, and I was scared," he replied. "I didn't want to lose my job."
Even Specialist Sabrina Harman, one of the women now accused, recognized the abuse as something that should be reported to higher-ups, but did not do so. When she went home on leave to Virginia in November, she took home a disc with photographs of prisoners in sexual positions and gave it to her roommate, saying she wanted to present it to higher-ups when she returned permanently. The roommate told investigators that Specialist Harman "could not report anything while there because her superiors were aware of the actions taking place against the prisoners."
In statements to investigators, many witnesses expressed regret that they had not come forward. "I even apologized to the detainees after this was done," Mr. Nakhla said. "I told them I thought what had happened was very degrading."
It might be time for the administration to release the full report with annexes to stop this crap. Without it, we can't refute the Slimes spin. They will only print the quotes advantageous to their theory that what a handful of soldiers did was part of some grand conspiracy.
Whoops. Link is here: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/22/international/middleeast/22WITN.html
The Post story linked to Drudge notes that the guys in the photographed naked threesome were accused of raping a teenage boy. That doesn't excuse the behavior, but it does provide context, context that is completely lacking in the Times article. Not surprising.
pecialist Joseph M. Darby left an anonymous letter and a disc with photographs of abuse at Abu Ghraib with investigators on Jan. 13. The next day he acknowledged that he was the author of the letter. Following are excerpts from that previously secret testimony, as obtained by The New York Times:
I arrived at Abu Ghraib sometime around Oct. 25 or 26, 2003. Shortly after I arrived, I was talking with Corporal Graner and he showed me pictures on his digital camera of a prisoner chained to his cell. The prisoner's arms were chained above his head and he was naked.
At the time I didn't think too much of it, as I thought perhaps it was procedure in the Hard Site. . . . I went on emergency leave from Nov. 9, 2003, until Nov. 26, 2003. When I returned, I learned of a shooting that occurred in the Hard Site, so I asked Corporal Graner if he had pictures of the cell where the inmate was shot because I was curious. Corporal Graner told me that he did have pictures of the cell, and he handed me two compact discs. I thought the discs just had pictures of Iraq, the cell where the shooting occurred and other personal photos. . . . I discovered a bunch of pictures of palaces in Iraq, photos of the city of Hilla and pictures of Abu Ghraib. I also found a bunch of folders that had dates on them. With these folders were a bunch of photos that showed naked female prisoners, naked male prisoners and other photos of male prisoners in sexual positions. I also saw a pyramid of naked prisoners. I returned the discs that I borrowed from Corporal Graner two or three days after I initially borrowed them. . . .
I made two compact discs with all the photos. After I made the compact discs, I deleted the photos from my hard drive. I thought about the pictures showing the prisoners in sexual positions and I thought that it was just wrong.
When I learned Corporal Graner was going to go back and work at the Hard Site, which is where the photos showing the prisoners being abused occurred, I knew I had to do something. I didn't want to see any more prisoners being abused because I knew it was wrong. So I created another compact disc with the photos showing the prisoners being abused and I wrote an anonymous letter and gave it to C.I.D. (Criminal Investigations Division). . . .
Q Why did you want to be anonymous?
SPECIALIST DARBY I was worried about retaliation from other people in my company if they found out I gave these pictures to C.I.D.
Q Why did you decide to come forward?
SPECIALIST DARBY I felt the pictures were morally wrong, and I was worried that if Corporal Graner went back to the Hard Site, he would abuse more prisoners.
Hmmm. The news reports make the charge that guards did this to him.
Excellent idea. The Clinton Administration used to do damage control by releasing info at a time & in a manner most favorable to them. Its time this administration take the initiative & do the same.
Is the Post going to print a photo of the rape or, lacking that, an artist's depiction of it?
I doubt it as it would not advance the cause of sabotaging the U.S. war effort.
".. On Oct. 24, the MPs decided to punish three detainees suspected of raping a teenage boy at the prison. To make the men confess, the MPs stripped them and handcuffed them together.
"They started to handcuff the two rapist together in odd positions/ways," England told investigators. "Once the two were handcuffed together, the third guy was brought over and handcuffed between the other two. Then they were laying on the floor handcuffed together, so all the other prisoners could see them. CPL Graner and SSG Frederick then asked me to start taking pictures with the camera."
The resulting images, which show several soldiers other than Graner and Frederick, have been cited by Graner's attorney as evidence that such practices were condoned by military intelligence officers. .."
If the alleged MI officers in the photograph knew the reason for the treatment, I could see them not interferring. If those detainees on the floor in the picture did that, they deserved much worse.
Agreed. The whole thing should be released, somehow. It needs to get to more honest media outlets quickly. We can upstage left/liberal media by preceding them and killing their story with ridicule that the Democrats are too blame for policies leading to the whole affair.
...to blame, even.
>>the American public less sympathetic for what was actually done to the "innocent" prisoners.<<
As long as our troops are getting shot at by cowards who hide behind civilians and blown apart by mines there will be no sympathy in my heart for terrorists.
Some Democrat politico has leaked the report to the NYSlimes. I heard McCain earlier today say that his strategy is simply to get it ALL out now. The lefties' strategy is to drip, drip, drip it out from now until the sheeple cry "UNCLE"! Sadly, it seems to be an effective tactic. The solution is to deluge the media with EVERYTHING NOW. Get it out, get it over with, move on. As the Clintonistas loved to say, "That's OLD NEWS."
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