- The Washington Times - Friday, August 6, 2004

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) — The soldier who was the first to report the abuse of Iraqi inmates at Abu Ghraib prison testified yesterday that he agonized for a month about disclosing what he had seen, but decided he could not let the abuse go on.

“It violated everything I personally believed in and all I’d been taught about the rules of war,” Sgt. Joseph Darby testified during a pretrial hearing for Pfc. Lynndie England. “It was more of a moral call.”

Sgt. Darby turned over two compact discs of photos, including some that showed Pfc. England leading a naked prisoner by a leash and smiling as she pointed at the genitals of a hooded detainee. Sgt. Darby had known the 21-year-old reservist since basic training with the Maryland-based 372nd Military Police Company and wrestled with the decision to come forward.

“These people were my friends,” Sgt. Darby testified by phone from an undisclosed location. “It’s a hard call to have to make the decision to put your friends in prison.”

The Article 32 hearing at Fort Bragg is to determine whether Pfc. England should face a court-martial on 13 counts of abusing detainees and six counts stemming from possession of sexually explicit photos. If convicted, she could get up to 38 years in prison.

Meanwhile, in Maryland, an Army reservist who witnessed the abuse said military intelligence officials led and directed it.

The account by Kenneth A. Davis, a former sergeant in the 372nd Military Police Company, contradicted the government’s position that only members of Mr. Davis’ unit were directly responsible for the abuse.

Mr. Davis’ account — in a May statement to Army investigators and in interviews this week with the Associated Press — makes him the first member of the unit who is not facing charges to publicly describe one of the episodes that led to criminal charges against others. No military intelligence personnel have been charged.

Mr. Davis said military intelligence soldiers were more culpable in the incident he witnessed than a military intelligence analyst acknowledged during testimony Thursday at the pretrial hearing of Pfc. England, one of seven members of the 372nd charged with abusing detainees.

Friday’s fourth day of testimony painted a picture of a prison in disarray, where it was often unclear whether guards or military intelligence officers were in charge and where barely trained reservists were often left to make decisions alone.

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