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5/4/04 - INVESTIGATING PRISONER ABUSE - 2004-05-05


The U.S. is investigating charges that U.S. soldiers abused Iraqi detainees. Criminal charges have reportedly been brought against six soldiers. They were members of a U.S. military police unit assigned to Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad. The charges include assault, cruelty, committing indecent acts, and maltreatment of detainees. Others may also be charged. In addition, seven soldiers, including officers, have been reprimanded or admonished for failing to oversee properly the treatment of Iraqi prisoners. A U.S. Army report says that midlevel intelligence officers issued questionable orders to soldiers responsible for guarding the detainees.

Media in the U.S. and elsewhere have televised pictures allegedly showing U.S. soldiers jeering at naked Iraqi prisoners. As U.S. Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt put it, “There is no excuse for what you see in those photos.”

General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that troops found to have abused prisoners will be brought to justice. Such abuses, says General Myers, do not reflect the ethics of the U.S. military:

“This is unacceptable behavior. All you have to do is look at the photographs and know that’s not how we do business. We don’t torture people.”

General Myers says that an investigation into the abuses will also examine reports that some U.S. military guards working at Abu Ghraib prison and other facilities claim that military intelligence authorities compelled them to humiliate detainees.

Dan Senor, the Coalition Provisional Authority spokesman, says that those found guilty will be punished. The fact that U.S. soldiers abused Iraqi detainees, says Mr. Senor, “offends the sensibilities” of all Americans, including “the overwhelming majority of men and women in uniform over in Iraq.”

President George W. Bush says he shares “a deep disgust over the way “those prisoners were treated”:

“That’s not the way we do things in America. And so, I don’t like it one bit. But I also want to remind people that those few people who did that do not reflect the nature of the men and women we’ve sent overseas."

U.S. military officials are sending a clear message: abuse of prisoners will not be tolerated.

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