- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 13, 2005

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — The defense for Army Spc. Charles Graner rested its case yesterday without the accused ringleader of abuses at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison taking the stand.

The jury of four Army officers and six senior enlisted men was expected to begin deliberating after closing arguments today.

Spc. Graner’s attorneys had indicated earlier that he probably would be the final witness, and that he would offer his version of what occurred in a scandal that stirred outrage against the United States.

But defense attorney Guy Womack said the other witnesses provided all the evidence necessary to make the case that military and civilian intelligence agents controlled Abu Ghraib and had ordered Spc. Graner to soften up detainees for questioning.

“We came in with a checklist of things we wanted to present to the jury,” Mr. Womack said. “Once we accomplished that, there was no reason to continue.”

Spc. Graner, a 36-year-old reservist from Uniontown, Pa., is the first soldier to be tried on charges stemming from the scandal. He had appeared glum in recent days, but he said outside court yesterday, “I feel fantastic. I’m still smiling.”

He is charged with offenses including conspiracy, assault and committing indecent acts, and could get 171/2 years in a military prison.

Among other things, Spc. Graner is accused of stacking naked detainees in a human pyramid and later ordering them to masturbate while other soldiers took photographs. He also reportedly punched one man in the head hard enough to knock him out, and struck an injured prisoner with a collapsible metal stick.

A former guard at Abu Ghraib testified yesterday that intelligence officers wanted detainees roughed up, and that Spc. Graner did not take part in a number of the abuses he is accused of having committed.

But the witness, former Spc. Megan Ambuhl, admitted under cross-examination that she had a brief sexual relationship with Spc. Graner and remains a close friend.

“And you don’t want your friend to go to jail?” asked Maj. Michael Holley, the prosecutor.

“No, sir,” she answered.

Ambuhl, who made a plea deal with prosecutors regarding her actions at Abu Ghraib, testified that intelligence officers had directed the prison’s guards to rough up and sexually humiliate detainees, and that the guards had been praised for their efforts.

On one occasion, she said, two military intelligence officers told Spc. Graner to physically abuse a prisoner in a shower.

Ambuhl also said she had lied to investigators who had sought to search her personal computer for photos and other evidence of abuse.

Sgt. Kenneth Davis, another soldier at the prison, later told the jury about an incident in which intelligence officers stripped three detainees accused of raping a teenage boy at Abu Ghraib and forced them to crawl on the prison floor.

Sgt. Davis said he was disturbed by the incident and reported it to his platoon leader.

“I said military intelligence was doing some pretty weird things with naked detainees,” he said.

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