CBS - Photos show abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers

Thursday, April 29, 2004

The Associated Press

NEW YORK -- U.S. military police stacked naked Iraqi prisoners in a human pyramid, and attached wires to one detainee to convince him he might be electrocuted, according to photographs obtained by CBS News which led to criminal charges against six American soldiers.

CBS said the photos, shown Wednesday night on "60 Minutes II," were taken late last year at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, where American soldiers were holding hundreds of prisoners captured during the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

In March, the U.S. Army said that six members of the 800th Military Police Brigade faced court martial for allegedly abusing about 20 prisoners at Abu Ghraib. The charges included dereliction of duty, cruelty and maltreatment, assault and indecent acts with another person.

In addition to those criminal charges, the military has recommended disciplinary action against seven U.S. officers who helped run the prison, including Brig. Gen. Janice Karpinski, the commander of the 800th Brigade, a senior military official said Wednesday in Baghdad.

The investigation recommended administrative action against several of the commanders, which could include punishments up to relieving them of their commands, said the official, speaking on condition on anonymity.

When the abuse charges were first announced, U.S. military officials declined to provide details about the evidence. But on Wednesday, at a news briefing in Baghdad, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said the investigation began in January when an American soldier reported the abuse and turned over evidence that included photographs.

"That soldier said, 'There are some things going on here that I can't live with,"' said Kimmitt, who also confirmed that CBS had obtained the photographs.

One picture shows an Iraqi prisoner who was told to stand on a box with his head covered and wires attached to his hands. CBS said the prisoner was told that if he fell off the box, he would be electrocuted.

In another photograph, prisoners' bodies were stacked in a pyramid, and one man had a slur written in English on his skin.

The Army ordered an investigation into the actions of 17 soldiers from the 800th Brigade, which is based in Uniondale, N.Y. Ten were investigated for criminal actions, six of whom were charged in March.

The other seven were officers who faced an administrative investigation. Those officers have received copies of the probe and will now have the chance to rebut the claims, with a final decision expected within a month, the senior military official said.

In an interview with CBS correspondent Dan Rather, Kimmitt said the photographs were dismaying.

"We're appalled," Kimmitt said. "These are our fellow soldiers, these are the people we work with every day, they represent us, they wear the same uniform as us, and they let their fellow soldiers down."

"If we can't hold ourselves up as an example of how to treat people with dignity and respect, we can't ask that other nations do that to our soldiers," Kimmitt said.

"60 Minutes II" identified one of the implicated soldiers as Army Reserve Staff Sgt. 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.

"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-based 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.

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