Marines Were Investigated for Iraq Jail Abuse
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    Cool Marines Were Investigated for Iraq Jail Abuse

    Marines Were Investigated for Iraq Jail Abuse

    The 2003 cases of eight reservists, including one in which an inmate died, prompted officials in the Corps to change how their prisons are run.

    By Tony Perry and Esther Schrader, Times Staff Writers


    FALLOUJA, Iraq Before many of the notorious photos of Iraqi prisoners being abused by U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison were taken, American military officials were investigating accusations of abuse by eight Marine reservists at a detention facility outside Nasiriya, including a case in which one prisoner died.

    The Whitehorse detention case is among several dozen cases of potential abuse of prisoners by American personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan investigated by the military dating back to December 2002. Criminal charges have been filed in only a handful of the incidents so far, and some of the accused faced no punishment beyond demotion, discharge or sacrifice of pay, according to available reports and public records.

    In addition to charges filed against six military police officers at Abu Ghraib, the Army discharged three soldiers in January for mistreating detainees at the Camp Bucca detention facility in southern Iraq. And the military is investigating the deaths of two Afghan men who died in U.S. custody at Bagram air base, Afghanistan, in December 2002, Army officials said.

    The emerging details of detainee abuse dating to the early days of U.S.-led military actions against Afghanistan and Iraq suggest that defense officials had a trail of evidence of problems in the system long before the shocking Abu Ghraib abuses had occurred.

    Human rights groups that have questioned U.S. detainee efforts for months expressed skepticism of Bush administration statements that top officials were unaware of the extent of abuses at Abu Ghraib until graphic, sexually oriented photographs documenting the mistreatment were revealed a week ago.

    "We've been raising questions since the first detentions in the Afghanistan conflict," said Alistair Hodgett, a spokesman for Amnesty International, the London-based human rights group.

    "These cases and these concerns have been well-known. It should not have taken graphic photographs to trigger a response from the Bush administration."

    Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross said Thursday that it had compiled "detailed, precise and systematic" reports of abuse at Abu Ghraib as far back as last summer and had provided them to the U.S. government. The Red Cross inspected the prison periodically and was told of the abuse by prisoners and their families, officials said.

    Pentagon officials said this week that 35 cases of possible detainee abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan at the hands of U.S. personnel have been detailed in the last 17 months.

    Ten of the 35 cases involve allegations of rape, assault and other injuries and are still under investigation, military officials said.

    Twenty-five cases of possible abuse involved deaths. Of those, 12 were labeled "undetermined or natural" causes.

    Ten others remain under investigation, including the deaths of the two Afghan men at Bagram air base. The remaining three cases are suspected homicides, one of them considered justifiable.

    Pentagon officials say they have been moving as quickly as military judicial proceedings allow to get to the bottom of the remaining cases of alleged abuse in detention facilities across Afghanistan and Iraq.

    In the Camp Bucca case, three Army soldiers were found by investigators to have held down a detainee while soldiers beat and kicked him at the urging of their superior, Master Sgt. Lisa Girman, according to an Army statement.

    The three were discharged after electing a less serious nonjudicial hearing rather than court-martial. A fourth soldier charged in the case accepted a dishonorable discharge in lieu of court-martial.

    At Camp Bucca, one Iraqi detainee allegedly was knocked to the ground and repeatedly kicked, and Girman reportedly encouraged subordinates to follow suit.

    Another inmate was thrown to the ground by a staff sergeant who stepped on a previously injured arm. An Army specialist was charged with holding an inmate's legs apart while kicking him the groin.

    Two of the Marines involved in the Whitehorse detention facility case face more stringent punishment. At Whitehorse, Marines made prisoners stand for hours with sandbags over their heads, testimony at hearings at Camp Pendleton showed. Some prisoners were struck and kicked, according to the testimony. The death of a Baath Party member may have been the result of inadequate medical care, witnesses testified.

    Last October, eight U.S. Marine reservists, including two officers, were charged with the mistreatment at Camp Whitehorse. Of those, two face court-martial proceedings this summer. Another was given nonjudicial punishment, and cases against five more were dismissed.

    Maj. Clark Paulus and Sgt. Gary Pittman, accused of kicking and beating prisoners of war, were arraigned at Camp Pendleton this week. And disciplinary action was taken against a lance corporal, officials said.

    Like the soldiers at Abu Ghraib later, the accused Marines complained of a lack of instruction on how to be jailers. And there was apparent confusion involving the amount of authority that interrogators at Whitehorse had in dealing with prisoners.

    As a result of the Whitehorse case, Marine Corps officials said they made sweeping changes in how their detention camps would be run before the Marines' return to Iraq in March.

    Training sessions were held, including a two-week practice session at March Reserve Air Force Base in Riverside for troops assigned to run detainee facilities. And a 55-page manual was compiled to explain to Marine Corps personnel each step for handling detainees.

    Maj. Gen. James N. Mattis, commanding general of the 1st Marine Division, ordered the investigation into the Marine cases.

    In an interview this week in Fallouja, where he has been leading Marine operations, he said he did so in order to put a halt to any improprieties lest the problem grow.

    Since the Marines' return, Mattis has banned the practice of placing hoods over the heads of detainees. He also sent word through the ranks that he would closely watch the treatment of detainees.

    The detention camp here, where Iraqis are held in tiny cells behind rows of concertina wire, is an example of the new policy at work, Marine officials say.

    The Fallouja camp among several in the region is meant to hold prisoners for 72 hours as they await word on whether they would be transferred to a secondary facility and then on to Abu Ghraib.

    Of 82 detainees held at the camp since the Marines' return, 63 have been released after interrogation.

    Under the rules for interrogation procedures, each detainee must be examined by a Navy medical corpsman before and after being interrogated by Marines or by intelligence agency officers, providing a record that could be used to detect any abuse.

    The technique of sleep deprivation to get detainees to spill their secrets has not been used at this camp, officials say.

    A sign on the wall now informs detainees: "You will be treated fairly and humanely as long as you are cooperative and follow the rules."

    Extensive documentation is required of Marines who have arrested any detainee. Every 24 hours a medical corpsman visits each detainee.

    Marine rules call for a respectful attitude, while still maintaining an emotional distance and a sense of control.

    "We want to be positive with them," said Staff Sgt. Juan Plancarte, a senior noncommissioned officer at the site. "We want to emulate the American way: respect for everyone."

    Mattis said abuse of prisoners is as serious a crime as a U.S. service member can commit and must be examined and punished.

    "We cannot lose our humanity," he said. "We're Americans, and we should act like it at all times. Americans don't do things like this."

    *


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Perry reported from Fallouja and Schrader from Washington.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationwo...eadlines-world


    Ellie


  2. #2
    I skimmed this so I might have missed something but it doesn't sound like the Marines did anything to Iraqis that wasn't done to them at PI. Probably where they learned it.


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