Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Documents Show String of Iraq Abuse Claims

Newly released U.S. Navy documents portray a series of abuse cases stretching beyond Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison where photos surfaced this year of U.S. troops forcing prisoners — often naked — to pose in humiliating positions.

The files released Tuesday document a crush of abuse allegations, most from the early months of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, including U.S. Marines forcing Iraqi juveniles to kneel while troops discharge a weapon in a mock execution and the use of an electric shock on a prisoner.

The approximately 10,000 files include investigation reports from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and witness interviews.

All names have been blacked out in the documents, which were released after a federal court ordered the government to comply with a Freedom of Information Act petition filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Constitutional Rights and other organizations.

"This kind of widespread abuse could not have taken place without a leadership failure of the highest order," said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero.

The Pentagon says cases of abuse are taken seriously and investigated.

"The fact that these cases have been investigated underscores the point that we've been making, which is when we have credible allegations of abuse we take them seriously and investigate them," said Maj. Michael Shavers, a Pentagon spokesman.

Some of the documents include the alleged executions of Iraqis. The Navy found the allegations to be "unsubstantiated" and closed the investigation. It remains unclear whether any other military branches are investigating.

In one of the reports, a Marine said he and two others were ordered to kill three Iraqis.

"The executions allegedly took place in early April 2003 while the unit was temporarily based at an abandoned Iraqi pharmaceutical factory south of Baghdad," according to the NCIS document, dated June 26, 2003.

The Marine said he was threatened with death if he did not carry out the order. The bodies of the dead Iraqis were allegedly dumped in a hole, the document said.

After the incident was reported, the Marines were interviewed. One, who was interviewed and advised of his rights, retracted his previous statements, saying the executions never took place.

I'm running out of things to say in response to these outrages. It seems our Preznit can escape all scrutiny just by repeating his "freedom is on the march" mantra. Maybe Mark Geragos should have tried that line in the Scott Peterson trial...

Much more troubling LA Times article on the subject here.


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