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Military's official report calls prisoner abuse `systemic and illegal'

WASHINGTON—Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the commander of American forces in Iraq, on Jan. 19 ordered an official investigation into reports of abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison. Excerpts follow from the investigative report by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, who was a key witness at the Tuesday hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee:

"Numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees. This systemic and illegal abuse of detainees was intentionally perpetrated by several members of the military police guard force," the classified report's executive summary states.

Specific abuses cited include:

_ Sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broomstick.

_ Forcing male detainees to masturbate while being photographed and videotaped.

_ Arranging naked male detainees in a pile, then jumping on them.

_ Forcing naked male detainees to wear women's underwear.

_ Positioning a naked detainee on a box, with a sandbag on his head, and attaching wires to his fingers, toes and penis to simulate electric torture.

_ Punching, slapping and kicking detainees and jumping on their naked feet.

_ Reporting a male MP guard having sex with a female detainee.

_ Videotaping and photographing naked male and female detainees.

_ Forcibly arranging detainees in various sexually explicit positions for photographing.

_ Using military dogs to intimidate detainees, leading to at least one severe injury by biting.

_ Forcing detainees to remove clothing and keeping them naked for days.

_ Placing a dog chain or strap around a naked detainee's neck and having a female soldier pose holding it.

_ Breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees.

_ Threatening detainees with a loaded pistol.

_ Pouring cold water on naked detainees.

_ Beating detainees with a broom handle and a chair.

_ Threatening male detainees with rape.

_ Allowing a military police guard to stitch the wound of a detainee who was injured after being slammed against the wall.

Sgt. Javal Davis of the 372nd Military Police Company, when asked why he didn't inform his superiors about the abuses, said: "Because I assumed that if they were doing things out of the ordinary or outside the guidelines, someone would have said something. Also, the wing belongs to (Military Intelligence) and it appeared MI personnel approved of the abuse."

Davis also stated that he had heard MI insinuate to the guards to abuse the inmates. When asked what MI said, he stated, "Loosen this guy up for us. Make sure he has a bad night. Make sure he gets the treatment."

Among Taguba's conclusions:

"I find that the 800th MP Brigade was not adequately trained for a mission that included operating a prison or penal institution at Abu Ghraib Prison Complex. ... (The units) did not receive corrections-specific training during their mobilization period. MP units did not receive pinpoint assignments prior to mobilization and during the post mobilization training and thus could not train for specific missions."

" ... There is no evidence that the command, although aware of these deficiencies, attempted to correct them in any systemic manner other than ad hoc training by individuals with civilian corrections experience."

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(c) 2004, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

Iraq

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