Sonic Puke
It's all fun and games until somebody pokes out an eye

8/07/2004

Abu Ghraib Hearing: No Testimony That G.I.'s Acted on Orders

In the three months since photographs of detainees in sexually humiliating
positions triggered the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal, the soldiers charged
with mistreatment have defended themselves by saying they were simply following
orders.


But as of the end of testimony here on Friday in a military court
hearing for Pfc. Lynndie R. England - the last, the longest and the most closely
watched of the proceedings to determine whether the seven soldiers should be
court-martialed - there have been no witnesses and no evidence to back up that
central assertion.

Witnesses, more than 25 for Private England's hearing
alone, have described a prison in chaos, where military police even ran a
prostitution and liquor ring. Soldiers often did not know who was in charge or
how they were supposed to treat detainees. Prisoners were left naked for long
periods as punishment and were at least occasionally abused, in one case leading
to a death from what investigators called trauma to the head.

Yet no one has said there were direct orders to carry out the treatment
seen in photos, or even, as Private England has told investigators, that the
military police soldiers were encouraged to "keep it up" as a way of encouraging
better interrogations.

"To my knowledge, ma'am, they were never ordered to do anything,"
Specialist Joseph M. Darby, the soldier who first turned in the photos, replied
to a question from a prosecutor here on Friday.

Witness after witness has said that the treatment in the pictures,
including forcing prisoners to masturbate and piling naked detainees in a
pyramid, would never be allowed under any stretch of the rules.
"It was wrong


- it was more than wrong," testified Specialist Matthew Wisdom, who like the
charged soldiers, is a member of the 372nd Military Police Company. "It was
absolutely wrong."

Capt. Donald Reese, the commander of the company, testified that
military intelligence soldiers conducting interrogations would ask the police
soldiers to strip detainees or deprive them of sleep. Then a prosecutor asked
him about whether there had been requests for the behavior seen in the photos:
Slapping? A dog pile of naked detainees? Forced masturbation? Taking nude
photographs?


"No, ma'am," he replied grimly.


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