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Iraq Prisoners Faced 'Sadistic' Abuses-Magazine
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By Caroline Drees
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iraqi prisoners faced numerous "sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses" by U.S. soldiers, including sodomy and beatings, according to a U.S. Army report quoted by the New Yorker magazine.
The New Yorker said it had obtained a 53-page, internal U.S. military report into alleged abuses at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad. In an article posted on its Web site on Saturday, the magazine said the report had been authorized by Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top U.S. officer in Iraq (news - web sites), and was completed in February.
The May 10 issue of the magazine goes on sale on Monday.
The army report listed abuses such as "breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on 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 in his cell; sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick."
The report, written by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, said evidence to support the allegations included "detailed witness statements and the discovery of extremely graphic photographic evidence."
A senior Pentagon (news - web sites) official said he had seen no allegations of rape or the use of chemicals against prisoners in Iraq, but said abuse of prisoners was "despicable and inexcusable."
News of the military report comes days after photographs showing abuse by U.S. troops of Iraqi prisoners were published and broadcast around the globe.
The photos showed U.S. troops smiling, posing, laughing or giving the thumbs-up sign as naked, male Iraqi prisoners were stacked in a pyramid or positioned to simulate sex acts with one another.
President Bush (news - web sites) said on Friday he was deeply disgusted by the abuse but said only a "few people" were to blame. He defended the conduct of the U.S. occupation forces as the White House scrambled to head off a backlash in Iraq and across the Arab world.
A British newspaper also published pictures showing British soldiers apparently urinating on a shackled Iraqi prisoner of war. Prime Minister Tony Blair (news - web sites) said on Saturday that abuse of Iraqi prisoners was "completely and totally unacceptable."
INVESTIGATIONS UNDER WAY
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman declined to comment on the allegations in the New Yorker, but stressed that "we take all reports of detainee abuse seriously and all allegations are thoroughly investigated."
He said that when incidents of abuse first came to light earlier this year, the army immediately ordered an investigation, and Sanchez ordered a separate probe to make sure that such incidents were not widespread throughout the military detention system in Iraq.
U.S. officials said on Thursday that the military is weighing disciplinary action against the Army general who was in charge of the Abu Ghraib prison, a center of torture and executions under toppled President Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)'s government.
The U.S. military now holds several thousand prisoners at Abu Ghraib, most of them rounded up on suspicion of carrying out attacks against U.S.-led forces.
The U.S. military announced on March 20 it had brought criminal charges against six soldiers with the 800th Military Police Brigade, which could lead to courts-martial. The charges, stemming from a probe launched in January, relate to accusations of abuses carried out in November and December 2003 on around 20 detainees at the prison.
The charges included indecent acts with another person, maltreatment, battery, dereliction of duty and aggravated assault. (Additional reporting by Charles Aldinger)
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