- The Washington Times - Monday, May 16, 2005

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — A letter from Spc. Sabrina Harman to her roommate in Virginia suggested that the Army reservist took pictures of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib prison because she was opposed to the treatment and wanted to document the wrongdoing.

“At first I thought it was funny, but these people are going too far,” Spc. Harman wrote to Kelly Bryant in the Oct. 20, 2003, letter, which was introduced in court yesterday during defense arguments at her trial.

“Kelly, it’s awful,” it continued. “I thought I could handle anything, but I was wrong.”

Spc. Harman, a former pizza-shop manager from Lorton, is the second soldier to be tried for purportedly mistreating detainees in the Iraqi prison. The defense began presenting its case yesterday morning and wrapped up later in the day without calling Spc. Harman to the stand.

Spc. Harman is depicted in several of the most notorious photos taken at Abu Ghraib in late October and early November 2003, and she is accused of taking other pictures.

Spc. Harman posed for a photo with Pvt. Charles Graner Jr. behind a group of naked detainees stacked in a pyramid. In another photo, the 27-year-old reservist is shown with a prisoner on whose leg she is accused of writing “rapeist.”

She faces up to 6 years if convicted of conspiracy to maltreat detainees, five counts of maltreating detainees and dereliction of duty.

Spc. Harman said in the letter that her initial amusement at how the detainees were mistreated gave way to the realization that her co-defendants were engaged in illegal actions.

?It hit me it was a form of molestation — you can’t do that,” she wrote.

The letter to Miss Bryant, described on ABC’s “20/20” as Spc. Harman’s lover, was written a few days before the first instance of abuse that Spc. Harman is accused of committing. Miss Bryant read Spc. Harman’s words from the witness stand yesterday.

Defense attorney Frank Spinner doesn’t dispute that Spc. Harman took and appeared in several of the Abu Ghraib photos but contends the images don’t tell the whole story of what went on inside the Baghdad-area prison.

He said Spc. Harman was a novice soldier who had no prison-guard experience and who received virtually no training before going to work at the chaotic and overcrowded prison as part of the 372nd Military Police Company, based in Maryland.

Six co-defendants in the Abu Ghraib case have made plea bargains. Graner was convicted in January and is serving a 10-year sentence in an Army prison.

Pfc. Lynndie England also reached a plea deal, but the judge threw it out earlier this month after Graner’s testimony contradicted Pfc. England’s assertion that she knew her actions were wrong.

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