WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon today was investigating to find out who took and released photographs of terror suspects as they were flown in heavy restraints to the high-security prison in Cuba.
Four photographs of prisoners -- handcuffed, heads covered with black hoods and bound on the floor of a cargo plane with nylon straps -- appeared overnight on the Web site of radio talk show host Art Bell.
"Anonymous mailer sends us photos taken inside a military C-130 transporting POWS," the headline said.
The new photos are the first giving a glimpse into security measures aboard any of the airplanes used this year as prisoners were transferred from Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world to the Guantanamo Bay naval facility.
It has long been known that prisoners were heavily restrained, and photos of prisoners bound and kneeling after arrival at the prison early this year created a stir among human and prison rights groups.
Officials said the photos on the plane were not authorized for release. It wasn't clear whether they were official photos or taken for personal use by an individual soldier.
It is at least the third time prisoner photos have troubled the Pentagon.
The Defense Department has limited the news media in the kind of photos it can take of prisoners from the war in Afghanistan, arguing that photos subjecting the prisoners to humiliation violate the Geneva Convention.
But officials discovered that troops posed for photos with American Taliban captive, John Walker Lindh, as he was handcuffed and wearing a blindfold with an obscenity scrawled across it.
The military itself takes photos for documentation and individual soldiers often take their own photos as souvenirs of deployments.
In a court motion, Lindh's lawyers also said earlier this year that unofficial photos and videos of Lindh were taken aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu, where he was confined. Officials said an officer confiscated cameras and film and erased digital images.
Also as part of a court filing, Lindh's lawyers released a picture of him in Afghanistan, blindfolded, strapped to a stretcher and naked. Defense officials have said that while that photo may have appeared shocking, he was naked as part of his preparation for medical treatment.