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by Eric Schmitt
Tuesday, Jun. 01, 2004 at 7:53 PM
"confidential Army documents have chronicled a widespread pattern of abuse involving prisoners in US custody in Iraq and Afghanistan that implicates more military units than previously known."
NY Times, May 31, 2004
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The US Army is investigating at least two dozen cases in which American soldiers are accused of assaulting civilian Iraqis or stealing their money, jewellery and other property during raids, patrols and house-to-house searches, senior defence officials said on Sunday.
In some instances, investigators say, soldiers were reported to have stolen cash from Iraqis they stopped at roadside checkpoints, apparently under the pretext of confiscating money from suspected insurgents.
These statistics and broad descriptions are included in an internal summary prepared by the investigation command at the request of senior army officials who are struggling to understand the scope of mistreatment and potential crimes committed by US soldiers in Iraq beyond the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison and other Army-run detention sites.
The army has acknowledged it is investigating 37 deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan involving prisoners in US custody. Other confidential Army documents have chronicled a widespread pattern of abuse involving prisoners in US custody in Iraq and Afghanistan that implicates more military units than previously known. But this new summary of previously undisclosed reported abuses, a description of which was provided by a senior Defense official, widens the scope of potential wrongdoing beyond the walls of Abu Ghraib and other prisons, to the daily operations of US forces in Iraq.
The summary lists categories of offenses under review -- 18 theft and six assault cases in Iraq as of May 21 -- but it does not describe details of each incident, which units were involved, whether each case is pending or closed, or what, if any, disciplinary action was taken. The incidents were reported to have taken place in the past 15 months. A spokesman for the investigation command did not respond to several phone calls and e-mail messages.
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