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Prisoner abuse was routine at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib jail

Khalid Hasan

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

WASHINGTON: A former US soldier involved in prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib jail has said torture and third degree methods were routine in the notorious facility.

Megan Ambuhl told the Washington Post that she was stunned when she first got to the jail because there were "naked men in dusty cells, male prisoners wearing women’s underwear, others hooded and shackled in contorted positions to metal railings".

She also saw a group of men chained to a cell with one officer telling her that the bars were often "decorated like a Christmas tree", with prisoners as ornaments. He told her that this was a "military intelligence tactic" to break the detainees that were being interrogated. It was a military intelligence facility. She said, "As I saw it, I thought that if they were doing it, it must be all right for them to be doing it."

Her account makes it clear that there were few rules and the prison outside the city of Baghdad was running out of control. She said the military’s top brass have dodged responsibility for what was going on at the prison by scapegoating her and other low-ranking soldiers.

By the time of her tour in 2003, Ambuhl had been in the Army reserves for about a year. Ambuhl recalled that she and other MPs used aggressive techniques against detainees because that is what military intelligence personnel and civilian interrogators told her to do.

She described a "roster board" that included which military intelligence 'treatment’ to give to certain detainees and said trainers from the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, taught the MPs how to put detainees in "stress positions". She said military intelligence officials told them to keep detainees naked, embarrass them or make them exercise until they reached exhaustion.

She told the Post, "We were told to handcuff people in uncomfortable positions, to put people on boxes, to pour cold water on them, to make them do physical training. We did what we were told to do."

Paul Boyce, an Army spokesman, said there have been more than 500 investigations into allegations of detainee mistreatment and that the Army is taking each allegation seriously. "Thus far, allegations against more than 251 military members have been addressed in courts-martial, non-judicial punishment and other adverse administrative actions."

Her first-hand account discredits the position taken by the Pentagon that the abuse at Abu Ghraib was isolated to a few individuals who decided to break the rules. One CIA man told her that it would be 'funny’ if she burnt a detainee with a cigarette. She now wishes she had done more to stop the abuse.


:: Article nr. 19893 sent on 24-jan-2006 06:07 ECT

www.uruknet.info?p=19893

Link: www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2006%5C01%5C24%5Cstory_24-1-2006_pg7_54



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