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Abu Ghraib convict breaks silence
Question of the Day
A key figure in the Abu Ghraib detainee abuse scandal has given Army investigators a lengthy sworn statement accusing others of misconduct at the Iraq prison.
The statement from Pvt. Charles Graner, who is serving a 10-year prison sentence at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., comes as the Army may file more charges in the case against personnel who supervised military police officers such as Pvt. Graner. He had first refused to talk, but later agreed under a grant of immunity.
At his court-martial, prosecutors portrayed Pvt. Graner as the ringleader in a group of Reserve MPs who abused and humiliated detainees as discipline and as a way to elicit information on a deadly Iraqi insurgency. Pvt. Graner did not testify at trial, but made an unsworn statement, in which he said he was just following orders from military intelligence personnel desperate for tips on the enemy.
Army investigators and defense lawyers took Pvt. Graner's sworn statements earlier this month at Leavenworth. The Army is collecting evidence against other MPs awaiting trial and against personnel who remain under investigation.
Pvt. Graner, a member of the 372nd Military Police Company, stated that a civilian contractor and military intelligence officers all told him it was OK to play rough.
"I was instructed to start sleep-management programs by [a civilian contractor] on three high-profile prisoners," he said, according to a 10-page statement, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times.
"The prisoners [were] known to me as Taxi Driver, an Iraqi; Smiley, a prisoner from Yemen; and Piggy ... also a third country national. Yell and scream at the prisoners. In Taxi Driver's case, have him wear the female underclothing on his head. Cuff them in different standing positions when they would not remain standing on their own. And utilize loud music in the middle of the night. With Piggy, I was to use the isolation cell."
Pvt. Graner said an Army sergeant from the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, visited Abu Ghraib as a consultant in 2003. He quoted the visitor as saying "the gloves came off" after the September 11 attacks. "In a phrase, I was to manhandle them and treat them rough," Pvt. Graner said. "If a prisoner was not following your instructions, smack them around a little or use cold water, such as throwing a 1.5-liter bottle of water on them. Use the sandbags as hoods always."
He said that when he complained to a captain that the MPs were breaking the law, the officer replied, "If MI (military intelligence) tells you to do things, it is OK, and follow their instructions."
Asked to comment on Pvt. Graner's statement, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon said yesterday, "Army investigators do question those subjects whose cases have been adjudicated. New information can lead to further criminal prosecution. The Army is committed to fully investigating cases of detainee abuse, no matter where the information leads investigators."
The court-martial convicted Pvt. Graner on nine criminal charges, including maltreatment of detainees and conspiracy. He was demoted from specialist to private and will receive a dishonorable discharge upon leaving prison.
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