RE: Creative cruelty and responsibility: Photos from Iraq

From: Eugene Matusov (
Date: Sun May 02 2004 - 20:40:40 PDT

Latest update on the story from New York Times.

Talking about "grey area," "The report said the 'ambiguous command
relationship, in the prison was made worse by orders that seemed to give
military intelligence officials broad authority."

Slippery slop to torture, abuse, and dehumanization: "The Taguba report
states that 'military intelligence interrogators and other U.S. Government
Agency interrogators actively requested that M.P. guards set physical and
mental conditions for favorable interrogation of witnesses.' The report
noted that one civilian interrogator, a contractor from a company called
CACI International and attached to the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade,
'clearly knew his instructions' to the military police equated to physical

Dehumanizing semiotics: "`Look what these animals do when you leave them
alone for two seconds.'"

Read the full text:


Command Errors Aided Iraq Abuse, Army Has Found


Published: May 3, 2004
An internal Army investigation has found that key military intelligence
officers and civilian employees may have spurred acts of abuse and
humiliation by American enlisted personnel against Iraqi detainees at an
overcrowded prison outside Baghdad.

A report on the investigation, seen yesterday by The New York Times, as well
as other documents seen by The Times, also reveal a much broader pattern of
command failures than initially acknowledged by the Pentagon and the Bush
administration in responding to outrage over the abuse at the Abu Ghraib


Officials said yesterday that the Army had opened two new investigations
into the abuse allegations. One inquiry just under way by Maj. Gen. George
R. Fay, the incoming deputy commander of Army intelligence, is examining the
interrogation practices of military intelligence officers at all
American-run prisons in Iraq and not just the Abu Ghraib prison 20 miles
west of Baghdad, where the worst abuses occurred.

The second review was ordered on Saturday by Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, head
of the Army Reserve, to assess the training of all reservists, especially
military police and intelligence officers, the soldiers most likely to
handle prisoners. Six members of an Army Reserve military police unit
assigned to Abu Ghraib face charges of assault, cruelty, indecent acts and
maltreatment of detainees.

The main Army investigation of abuse was first reported in the May 10 issue
of The New Yorker.

The inquiry, led by Army Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, identified two
military intelligence officers and two civilian contractors for the Army as
key figures in the abuse cases at Abu Ghraib. In his internal report on his
findings in the inquiry, General Taguba said he suspected that the four were
"either directly or indirectly responsible for the abuses at Abu Ghraib and
strongly recommended disciplinary action."

The Pentagon and the Bush administration have called the abuse an isolated
case as they have sought to respond to the widespread condemnation of
photographs released last week that show American soldiers abusing and
sexually humiliating detainees late last year.

So far, six enlisted personnel from a reserve military police unit have been
charged in the military abuse cases. The Taguba report found that they were
never properly trained or supervised and that they had done the bidding of
secret interrogators from the intelligence community. It found that in
effect, the military police were told to soften up the prisoners so they
would talk more freely in interrogations conducted by intelligence

The Taguba report states that "military intelligence interrogators and other
U.S. Government Agency interrogators actively requested that M.P. guards set
physical and mental conditions for favorable interrogation of witnesses."
The report noted that one civilian interrogator, a contractor from a company
called CACI International and attached to the 205th Military Intelligence
Brigade, "clearly knew his instructions" to the military police equated to
physical abuse.

The report and other documents reveal that Army investigators found a
virtual collapse of the command structure in the prison, allowing midlevel
military intelligence officers to skirt the normal chain of command to issue
questionable orders to enlisted personnel from the reserve military police
unit handling guard duty there.

Gary Myers, a lawyer for Staff Sgt. Ivan Frederick, one of the enlisted men
charged in the case, requested this weekend that the Army open a court of
inquiry into the abuse at Abu Ghraib, a move that would broaden the
investigation beyond the six enlisted personnel to look at the broader
command failures.

Some photographs of abuse at Abu Ghraib have been broadcast and published in
recent days, since the CBS News program "60 Minutes II" first broadcast them
on Wednesday. One photo shows a naked Iraqi man kneeling in front of another
naked Iraqi man, who is standing over him with a bag over his head, while
another shows a female American soldier pointing as an Iraqi man with a bag
over his head is masturbating.

Another photo shows an American soldier sitting on top of a naked Iraqi man,
and still more photos show naked Iraqi men in a human pyramid.

The photographs, some included in evidence in the Army's investigation,
support the conclusions of the Taguba report, which found that "between
October and December, 2003, at the Abu Ghraib Confinement Facility, numerous
incidents of sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on
several detainees" by members of the 800th Military Police Brigade. "This
systemic and illegal abuse of detainees was intentionally perpetrated by
several members of the military police guard force in Tier 1-A of the Abu
Ghraib Prison."

In addition, the report said, "there were also abuses committed by members
of the 325th Military Intelligence Battalion, 205th Military Intelligence
Brigade, and the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center."

Documents from an April 2 military court hearing in Iraq for Sergeant
Frederick provide new details about the abuse. The documents show that
Specialist Matthew Carl Wisdom, of the 372nd Military Police Company at Abu
Ghraib, appeared in the hearing and described some of the acts of abuse he
saw committed by other military police.

"I went down to Tier 1 (the cellblock where much of the abuse is said to
have occurred) and when I looked down the corridor, I saw two naked
detainees, one masturbating to another kneeling with its mouth open," he is
quoted as saying. "I thought I should just get out of there. I didn't think
it was right, as it seemed like the wrong thing to do. I saw Staff Sergeant
Frederick walking towards me, and he said, `Look what these animals do when
you leave them alone for two seconds.' "

Some of the graphic photos of abuse were entered into evidence in the court
hearing, and individual soldiers involved in them were identified. One photo
shows a Pvt. Lynndie R. England standing next to an Iraqi man who is
masturbating. The court documents state that she told investigators that
Staff Sergeant Frederick "motioned the detainee's hands back and forward on
its penis to coax the detainee to masturbate himself," the court documents
state. "He then made Pfc. England pose in a picture next to the detainee.
She said she didn't want to pose, but she did it anyway," the court document

The Taguba report's sharpest criticism was for officers in charge of the
military police and military intelligence units in the prison.

"There is abundant evidence in the statements of numerous witnesses that
soldiers throughout the 800th M.P. Brigade were not proficient" in basic
skills needed to operate the prison, the report found.

A crucial problem, the report found, was the bad relationship between the
commanders of the military police unit and the military intelligence
officers. The report found that there "was clear friction and lack of
effective communication" between Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who was in
charge of the accused soldiers, and military intelligence officials
operating in the prison.

The report said the "ambiguous command relationship" in the prison was made
worse by orders that seemed to give military intelligence officials broad

The orders from occupation commanders in Iraq effectively made a military
intelligence officer, rather than an military police officer, responsible
for the military police units, the report said. This arrangement was not
supported by General Karpinski, the report added, and "is not doctrinally

But while the Taguba report criticizes military intelligence's role in the
abuse, it does not spare General Karpinski. It recommended that she be
relieved of command and reprimanded for a series of command failures. She
said Saturday that she was sickened by the abuse photos.

The report identifies Col. Thomas M. Pappas, commander of the 205th military
intelligence brigade, Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan, the former director of the
Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center and Liaison Officer to the 205th
Military intelligence Brigade, Steven Stephanowicz, an Army contract
employee from CACI, and John Israel, a contractor and civilian interpreter
with CACI, as the people suspected of being "either directly or indirectly
responsible for the abuses at Abu Ghraib."

The report concluded that Mr. Stephanowicz made a false statement regarding
the "locations of his interrogations, the activities during his
interrogations, and his knowledge of abuses." The report recommended that he
be fired.

Mr. Israel, the report found, "denied ever having seen interrogation
processes in violation" of Army standards, "which is contrary to several
witness statements." Colonel Pappas was recommended for a reprimand for,
among other things, failing to supervise his soldiers properly, and failing
to ensure that soldiers under his direct command knew, understood and
followed the Geneva Conventions for the treatment of prisoners of war.

Efforts to reach Colonel Pappas by e-mail yesterday were unsuccessful;
efforts to find a telephone number or e-mail address for Colonel Jordan also
did not succeed.

Officials at CACI International, which is based in Arlington, Va., did not
respond to telephone and e-mail messages yesterday requesting comment. In an
article about the prison abuse in the The New Yorker, a spokeswoman said the
company had received "no formal communication" from the Army about the

The report also states that an Air Force psychiatrist, Dr. Henry Nelson, has
determined "that there was evidence that the horrific abuses suffered by the
detainees at Abu Ghraib were wanton acts of select soldiers in an
unsupervised and dangerous setting."

"There was a complex interplay of many psychological factors and command
insufficiencies," he added.

Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker contributed reporting for this article
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