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by Richard A. Serrano and Greg Miller
Monday, May. 24, 2004 at 6:23 AM
"The Christian in me says it's wrong, but the corrections officer in me says, 'I love to make a grown man piss himself.' "
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Prison intelligence officers scrutinized
Los Angeles Times, May 23, 2004
WASHINGTON -- Military investigators who combed through the Abu Ghraib prison this year learned that one detainee was slammed head-first into a wall and later died, and that another was dunked in urine. They also encountered intelligence officers who said that they never saw the abuse and humiliation that was occurring.
Only one intelligence team member said he saw any of the thousands of photographs and videos that were floating through the complex -- images of naked detainees so accessible that some were visible on computers at an Internet cafe in the prison.
Six military prison guards are awaiting courts-martial on charges of abusing prisoners and a seventh has pleaded guilty. As they seek to determine how far up the chain of command responsibility lies, agents of the Army's Criminal Investigative Command are turning their attention to the role played by intelligence officers, civilian contract employees and linguists who routinely had contact with detainees.
But their insistence that they were in the dark about prisoner abuse could make it more difficult for investigators to seek criminal charges against intelligence unit members who the guards claim encouraged them to get rough with detainees in the first place.
Revelations about the intelligence squads and new forms of abuse are found in more than 100 pages of case files compiled by Army investigators. The material includes questionnaires, agents' handwritten notes, victim statements and prison flow charts. It is not clear how much of the material was seen by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, who investigated the abuse and issued a highly critical report that became public earlier this month.
The documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times also provide new details of the treatment of Iraqi prisoners.
Detainees were forced to participate in contests in which military police tried to see how many detainees they could make cry or urinate on themselves. Happy faces were drawn across the chest of a detainee, who was nicknamed "Happy Nipples."
Some of the documents are notes taken by an investigator as he worked his way down the cellblocks interviewing detainees. One prisoner told him he smelled alcohol "many times" on guards. Another said he was whipped and beaten and held for 40 days in isolation.
Both victims and guards cited by Army investigators tended to confirm characterizations of Cpl. Charles Graner as the most violent on Tier 1A in what was known as the prison's "hard site." A guard said Graner would beat prisoners and then encourage his colleagues to "come get some of this."
At one point Graner, who worked in a state prison in Pennsylvania before being deployed to Iraq, allegedly told another guard: "The Christian in me says it's wrong, but the corrections officer in me says, 'I love to make a grown man piss himself.' "
Another guard described in the investigative reports as particularly vicious was Staff Sgt. Ivan L. "Chip" Frederick II, who previously had worked in a prison in Virginia. After the investigation into the abuse was launched, he allegedly told a fellow soldier that this would ruin his civilian career. "Nineteen and a half years down the drain," he lamented.
The investigation began Jan. 13 when Spc. Joseph Darby, another member of the military police unit, slipped an anonymous, typewritten note under the door of the Army investigation command's office at the prison, along with a photo disc that he had been given by Graner.
"To Whom It May Concern," the note began. "I am writing this letter as a matter of moral ethics."
He identified Graner, Frederick, Pfc. Lynndie England, Spc. Sabrina Harman and Spc. Megan Ambuhl, as key players in the drama against detainees, all charged in the investigation, as well as Spc. Jeremy Sivits, who pleaded guilty to maltreatment of detainees and dereliction of duty last week and was sentenced to a year in prison. Sivits is expected to testify against the others.
"I am writing this to try to right the wrongs that I have seen in these photos and video clips," Darby wrote. "Since no one will come forward ... I feel something must be done. So I am giving this disc to you. Do with it as you wish." He signed the note, "Concerned MP."
Much of the alleged abuse began in October, when the military was under mounting pressure to collect information regarding the whereabouts of Saddam Hussein and other potential threats to U.S. forces.
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