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Thread: Lejeune Marines accused of abuse
10-20-05, 06:12 AM #1
Lejeune Marines accused of abuse
Published: Oct 20, 2005
Modified: Oct 20, 2005 3:00 AM
Lejeune Marines accused of abuse
Ex-soldier says Iraqi prisoners were beaten
By JAY PRICE, Staff Writer
A former Army interrogator says that troops from Camp Lejeune's 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit routinely beat detainees before bringing them in for questioning and that Marine and Army officers ignored his formal complaints.
His is the second such allegation against troops base in North Carolina in less than a month. It comes as Congress considers a bill that would set stricter rules on the treatment of detainees.
The back of one man's foot had been smashed with the back of an ax head, and others arrived with burns, broken ribs or broken bones in their hands or feet, Tony Lagouranis, 36, of Chicago said in an interview Tuesday. Hours later, he appeared on the PBS television show "Frontline" and made similar allegations without naming the military unit involved.
He also said that his Army supervisor ordered him to use dogs during interrogations at another camp and that pressure on interrogators to extract information created a climate for encouraging abuse.
Capt. David Nevers, a spokesman for the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, said Lagouranis had reported to the Marines only one allegation of abuse involving one detainee. The Marines conducted a preliminary investigation that found the claim unsubstantiated, and a Navy investigation is under way, he said.
Nevers said there was no pattern of abuse.
"We knew, in the wake of Abu Ghraib, how serious this issue is," Nevers said. Some detainees were inevitably injured when they were arrested, he added.
"Were our Marines aggressive in apprehending known criminals and murderers? Absolutely. Were they abusing detainees? No way."
Responses too uniform
Lagouranis, then a specialist with a Georgia-based Army intelligence unit, served as an interrogator first at Abu Ghraib prison west of Baghdad and then was put on a four-member interrogation team that moved around Iraq. From August to October 2004, his team was at Forward Operating Base Kalsu, south of Baghdad, with Marines of the 24th.
Lagouranis said he didn't see beatings himself but said the nature of the detainees' injuries was obvious. He also said the stories his team got from prisoners were too uniform not to be true.
"I'd get a whole family of 14 and ask them one at a time what had happened, and they would all say the same thing, that the Marines had come into their house, that they had been flex-cuffed and then subjected to beatings and questioning," he said. (Flex-cuffs are sturdy plastic handcuffs.)
Lagouranis said he had taken photos of the injuries and given written and oral reports about the abuse to Marine commanders and to his own company commander, but nothing changed.
"No one came to see the photos or talk to me or anything," he said. "I just don't think the Marines cared."
Capt. Brenda Suggars, a spokeswoman for his former Army brigade, said Wednesday that she hadn't heard about the allegations and would have to look into them before commenting.
Lagouranis left the Army this summer and hasn't found a new job. The reason he stepped forward to discuss the case was simple, he said.
"It's just wrong, and I want it to stop," he said.
Lagouranis' allegations came three weeks after the story broke of an Army captain who claimed that soldiers from Fort Bragg routinely abused prisoners at a base near Fallujah -- stacking them in pyramids, punching them and in one case breaking a man's leg with a metal baseball bat. Capt. Ian Fishback, a West Point graduate, made those charges to the watchdog group Human Rights Watch and to members of Congress.
Sen. John McCain mentioned Fishback's allegations Sept. 27 when he spoke in support of a bill that would tighten standards for treatment of detainees.
Reports of detainee abuse have become routine. The Army, for example, has conducted 400 investigations of detainee abuse, resulting in punishment for 230 soldiers that ranged from courts martial to administrative punishment, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon said last month.
Nevers said that four other allegations of detainee abuse by members of the unit have been reported. One was found to be unsubstantiated, another is being investigated, and in two cases, investigators found that detainees were abused. The Marines involved were punished.
Nevers pointed to the other investigations and the punishments as proof that the unit aggressively investigates abuse reports.
Camp was open-door
The unit arrived in that part of Iraq well after the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal erupted in 2004, and the unit's commander, Col. Ron Johnson, was interested in details right down to the quality of ventilation in the detainee holding facility, the amount of space each prisoner had and the proximity of each to bathrooms, Nevers said. After it opened, he got daily reports on the condition of the prisoners and routinely visited the facility, he said.
The camp had an open-door policy for the detention facility. Iraqi officials dropped in, as did the Red Cross and Red Crescent. Journalists went so often that public affairs officers stopped bothering to escort them, Nevers said.
"If you've got all these prisoners coming in battered, bruised, with broken bones, it would have been noticed by the stream of visitors," he said.
The Marines weren't the only ones to abuse prisoners, Lagouranis said. His team worked in several places in Iraq. While in Mosul, he received a prisoner who had been detained by a Navy SEAL unit, he said; the prisoner's toes had been smashed and his legs burned, and he had been placed in icewater to induce hypothermia and, with the help of a rectal themometer, held just above fatal body temperature.
The ice-water technique was common, he said. "Everyone did that."
Lagouranis said that after he came home in January to his unit's base, Fort Gordon, Ga., he reported the abuse to Army criminal investigators. They seemed interested, he said, but he has heard nothing from them.
Staff writer Jay Price can be reached at 829-4526 or email@example.com.
IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
ONE PROUD MARINE
Once a Marine...Always a Marine
10-20-05, 08:18 AM #2
I bet the media is going to have a field day with this!!!! Is it just me or was there a war going on???? Broken bones, cuts, bruises, and burns??? Yep sounds like a war to me.
10-20-05, 09:45 AM #3
Damn How They Are Treated They Drive Up With A Car Full Of Explosives And Kill Our Marines They Are F-ing Cowards. This Is War Get Them Before They Get Us And They Want To Pass A Law On How To Treat Them . That Is Bull#### And Evry Marine Reading This Should Agree. We Come To Eliminate A Problem That Is What The Marine Corps Is Good At.
10-20-05, 10:02 AM #4
I was a part of this MEU at that time frame. I will protect the rights of my Marines by saying that we did everything that was humanly possible to detain the POWs in a humanly acceptable fashion. When they POWs got aggressive so did we. When the enemy fired at us we fired back. We did not, and I said DID NOT, abuse any POW. Those POWs in question had been hurt prior to our Capturing them. We never disrepected the families that we " visited " and we never Hurt any-one that wasn't posing a threat to us. Some damn Military member is having night-mares and relapses about the things they had seen and confusing it with what has been said to try to gain attention and possibly a promotion from this.
10-20-05, 03:34 PM #5
copy and paste the link above....then ask me if I give a rats azz how a ****** piece of ****e insurgent is treated in order to get information wich will save lives. I dont care what happens to insurgents . I dont care how we stomp on their rights . I dont care if we hurt their feelings , I dont care if the international world isnt backing us. We went in there pretty much alone and since no one wanted to play with us then, they shouldnt come in and try to change the rules of the game now. Leave the Marines and soldiers to do their jobs.
We were the Marines that replaced 2/2 down in that ****hole . The Marines from the unit were good to go . I guarantee you that whatever they did , they did in order to save lives. Who cares .. Fuk insurgents.
10-20-05, 04:37 PM #6
I also understand that the rules of engagement have changed or maybe they have always been like this since the Marine Corps and the US Army have been there. What I mean by that is the AO are smaller for the Marine Corps units and the Marines cannot fire outside of their AO. IN other words the scuttlebutt that I have is that the Army has larger and more in number as a presents and they have larger and more AOs and they cannot keep them covered. I am wondering if this is the case. Only the Marines and others in country know the facts. This has bearing on the insurgents to me because while you are covering the AO insergents are going to be probing just like this gate that was shown in the video. If a Marine Corps unit at an AO could have covered better and had more support this may not have happen. That is if my scuttlebutt is correct. Anybody...???
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