- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 16, 2006

FORT MEADE, Md. — Defense attorneys rested their case yesterday in the court-martial of an Army dog handler accused of abusing detainees at Abu Ghraib prison.

The jury was dismissed until 8 a.m. today.

The defense rested after an army major testified that there was nothing inhumane about having a dog bark at prisoners.

Maj. David DiNenna oversaw military police at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison in late 2003 and early 2004. His soldiers included the defendant, Sgt. Michael Smith.

Maj. DiNenna, who testified for the defense, said unmuzzled dogs helped maintain order by barking at unruly prisoners. Part of Sgt. Smith’s defense is that his charges stem from his dog simply barking at detainees.

When a detainee would become unruly, Maj. DiNenna said, “You come in with a show of force — and of course, for a dog, that’s barking.”

Maj. DiNenna was asked whether a dog should be muzzled, and he replied, “If you take a muzzled dog to an uprising, it doesn’t have any effect on the situation.”

Sgt. Smith faces 13 counts that he abused detainees.

Prosecutors say Sgt. Smith and another handler used dogs to terrify inmates as part of a macabre and illegal game. Sgt. Smith’s attorneys say he was just following orders.

Maj. DiNenna testified a day after the former military intelligence chief at Abu Ghraib said he regretted not setting “appropriate controls” at the prison, where detainees were bitten by dogs and assaulted and sexually humiliated by guards.

Col. Thomas M. Pappas, commander of military intelligence at Abu Ghraib in late 2003 and early 2004, testified Wednesday.

“If I had to list my biggest failure, I think it was not setting appropriate controls,” said Col. Pappas, the highest-ranking witness scheduled to testify at the trial.

“In hindsight, clearly, we probably needed to establish some definitive rules and put out some clear guidance to everybody concerned,” said Col. Pappas, testifying for the defense under a grant of immunity on the third day of the proceeding.

Nevertheless, he said under cross-examination that a photograph showing Sgt. Smith’s unmuzzled dog straining at its leash just inches from the face of a terrified prisoner, wasn’t consistent with any policy or guidance.

The colonel, speaking publicly for the first time about the scandal, testified for nearly two hours before a seven-member jury in the courtroom at Fort Meade.

He provided few details about the genesis of harsh interrogation tactics that included “exploit Arab fear of dogs” — a technique recommended in a policy dated Sept. 14, 2003.

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