- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 4, 2004

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) — Pfc. Lynndie England was often sloppy at her paperwork job at Abu Ghraib prison because of illicit, late-night visits to the part of the facility where detainees were abused, her supervisor testified yesterday.

The testimony by Spc. Matthew Bolinger at a pretrial hearing continued the government’s theme of portraying Pfc. England as one of a handful of out-of-control Army reservists who took it upon themselves to photograph detainees in humiliating poses at the prison near Baghdad.

Spc. Bolinger said Pfc. England was disciplined repeatedly for sneaking into the prison’s fortified “hard site” to visit her boyfriend, Spc. Charles A. Graner Jr., who also is charged in the prisoner abuse case and is the father of the child Pfc. England is carrying.

“Her performance was not so good,” Spc. Bolinger said. “She was sneaking out in the middle of the night, going to the hard site.”

Spc. Bolinger said Pfc. England also was disciplined after being caught in bed several times with Spc. Graner beginning in July 2003. He said authorities tried several punishments to keep her away from Spc. Graner and his part of the prison, including restricting her to her quarters and requiring that she be escorted any time she left the unit’s headquarters building.

Spc. Bolinger, who supervised Pfc. England in her prison paperwork processing job, testified by phone from Fort Lee, Va., where the 372nd Military Police Company, based in Cresaptown, Md., has been stationed since returning from Iraq.

On Tuesday, Army investigators testified that the naked detainees shown with Pfc. England in human pyramids and tethered to a leash were common criminals of little or no value to interrogators — and abused “for fun.”

The prosecution’s case has been aimed at rebutting a defense argument that Pfc. England had been acting on orders from seniors to break down prisoners for questioning.

The hearing, expected to last through the week, will determine whether a court-martial goes forward against Pfc. England on 13 counts of abusing detainees and six counts stemming from possession of sexually explicit photos. The maximum sentence is 38 years in prison.

Pfc. England and Spc. Graner are two of seven reservists from the 372nd who have been charged in the scandal. One, Spc. Jeremy C. Sivits, has pleaded guilty and been sentenced to a year in prison.

Spc. Graner also faces adultery charges for his suspected relationship with Pfc. England.

Investigator Paul Arthur testified Monday that when he interviewed Pfc. England about the photos three months before they became public in April, she told him that they had been taken while the soldiers “were joking around, having some fun, during the night shift.”

Mr. Arthur said he thought the reservists were responding to the stress of being in a war zone, “kind of venting their frustration.”

But when asked whether that assessment applied to Pfc. England, Mr. Arthur said, “She never mentioned that she was frustrated. She said it was more for fun.”

Defense attorney Rick Hernandez contends that the government is trying to shift its responsibility to a lowly private for a scandal that has stirred outrage in the Arab world.

The prosecution’s case is flawed, he said, because investigators didn’t look into accusations related to “other camps where my client has never been. … All the information out there indicates it is a systematic problem.”

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