- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 1, 2004

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) — Attorneys for Pfc. Lynndie England yesterday moved to throw out statements she made when first questioned about Iraqi prisoner abuse, including that reservists were just “joking around, having some fun.”

The motion was one of five taken up by military judge Col. Stephen Henley during a hearing in advance of Pfc. England’s Jan. 18 court-martial on abuse charges stemming from photos of her pointing and smiling at naked detainees at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison.

Paul Arthur, an Army special investigator, testified that Pfc. England was aware of her rights, including to have an attorney present, when she was interviewed for more than four hours on Jan. 14 — three months before the photos became public.

Mr. Arthur testified that Pfc. England was brought in for questioning — without an attorney present — because investigators had obtained several pictures of her, including the infamous shot of her holding a naked detainee by a leash.

He said Pfc. England was cooperative and did not appear fearful, and if she had asked for an attorney, he would have ended the interview. At the end of the questioning, she wrote and signed a statement detailing her actions, Mr. Arthur said.

In a hearing this summer, Mr. Arthur said Pfc. England told him the reservists took the photos while “they were joking around, having some fun, during the night shift.”

Mr. Arthur said he thought the reservists from the 372nd Military Police Company were responding to the stress of being in a war zone.

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

Pfc. England, a 21-year-old reservist from Fort Ashby, W.Va., was one of seven members of the Maryland-based 372nd charged with humiliating and assaulting prisoners at the prison. She became a focal point of the scandal after the photos surfaced.

During testimony at a pretrial hearing, defense attorneys maintained that Pfc. England was being used as a scapegoat for a military run amok.

Pfc. England has said she and the others were following orders from military intelligence operatives to “soften up” prisoners for interrogations. The defense sought unsuccessfully to call Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in an attempt to show that those directives came from or were known to the highest echelons of the Bush administration.

Military prosecutors argued that there were no such orders. Pfc. England faces up to 38 years in prison if convicted.

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