New photos of Abu Ghraib abuse surface
Updated: 2006-02-16 07:44
New images showing Iraqis abused by U.S. guards at Abu Ghraib prison three
years ago threatened Wednesday to enflame public anger already running high over
footage of British soldiers beating youths in southern Iraq.
Images of naked prisoners, some bloodied and lying on the floor, were taken
about the same time as earlier photos that triggered a worldwide scandal and led
to military trials and prison sentences for several lower-ranking American
A TV frame grab
shows an image made available by Australia's Special Broadcasting Service
(SBS) on February 15, 2006, of what the broadcaster says is a detainee
being abused in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison taken in
Many of the pictures broadcast Wednesday by Australia's Special Broadcasting
Service, including some that appear to show corpses, were more graphic than
those previously published. One of the video clips depicted a group of naked men
with bags over their heads standing together and masturbating. The network said
they were forced to participate.
In the Middle East, where there have been widespread anti-Western protests
recently over caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya TV
aired some of the Australian station's footage but refrained from using the most
shocking and sexually explicit images. CNN also broadcast excerpts.
Iraq's acting human rights minister, Nermine Othman, said she was "horrified"
by the pictures and would study whether any action could be taken against those
responsible, even though some offenders have been imprisoned.
"There will be two kinds of reactions from Iraqis," she told The Associated
Press. "One will be anger and others will feel sorry that they (SBS) didn't give
them to the Iraqi government to investigate. Why use them? Why show them? We
have had enough suffering and we don't want any more."
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the Defense Department believed the
release of additional images of prisoner abuse was harmful and "could only
further inflame and possibly incite unnecessary violence in the world."
Whitman said he did not know whether the photos and video clips were among
images the Pentagon has been withholding from public release since 2004.
But another defense official said Army officials had reviewed the photographs
posted on the Sydney Morning Herald's Web site and matched them to images that
were among those turned over to military authorities in 2004 by a U.S. soldier.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not
authorized to address the matter publicly, said the photos contained no new
information about abuse.
Although the Abu Ghraib case was exhaustively reported here years ago, the
new images could revive the issue of treatment of Iraqis by U.S.-led occupation
forces, who face the ever-present threat of death or serious injury at the hands
This week's release of video showing British troops beating Iraqi youths
during a violent 2004 protest in the southern city of Amarah prompted the Basra
provincial administration to severe ties with British authorities.
Members of Shiite political groups opposed to the U.S.-led coalition appeared
to have engineered that move. They were apparently seeking to exploit public
sensitivities after attempts by the British to crack down on Shiite militias.
The fresh Abu Ghraib pictures were broadcast as the United States is trying
to reach out to the disaffected Sunni Arab community, the backbone of the
insurgency, in hopes of encouraging Sunni insurgents to lay down their arms and
join the political process.
Most of those who suffered abuse at Abu Ghraib were believed to have been
Sunni Arabs. Sunni leaders have also alleged mistreatment by Shiite-led Iraqi
government security forces, a development that has sharpened sectarian tensions.
Mindful of the risks, some key Iraqi officials either avoided comment or
sought to play down the images, noting the Americans had already punished Abu
"I feel bringing up these issues is only going to add heat to an already
fragile situation in Iraq and they don't help anybody at all," said Labeed
Abbawi, an adviser to Iraq's Foreign Ministry. "It will only lead to extra
condemnation of Americans, British and later Iraqis" who have also been accused
National Security Adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie said he would discuss the
pictures with U.S. authorities. "They don't help in forming a good relationship
between the multinational forces and Iraqi citizens," he said.
The Australian station refused to say how it obtained the images, and their
authenticity could not be verified independently.
However, they were consistent with earlier photographs of abuse by American
soldiers at Abu Ghraib. Nine American soldiers ¡ª all low-ranking reservists ¡ª
were convicted in the abuse and sentenced to terms ranging from discharge from
the Army to 10 years imprisonment.
"The abuses at Abu Ghraib have been fully investigated," Whitman said. "When
there have been abuses, this department has acted upon them promptly,
investigated them thoroughly and where appropriate prosecuted individuals," he
He said more than 25 people have been held accountable for criminal acts and
"other failures" at Abu Ghraib.
The network, which aired the pictures on its "Dateline" program, did not
identify anyone in the images. However, several photos appear to show former
Spc. Charles Graner Jr., who is serving a 10-year prison term for his role in
In one image, men wearing combat-style uniforms and holding dogs on leashes
appear. Another showed two naked men whose hands were cuffed together. Another
depicted an Iraqi's face in agony.
Other images showed what appear to be dead bodies, as well as wounded people
and prisoners performing sex acts. SBS said the bodies were of people who died
at the prison.
The SBS also showed photographs of a bloodied cell block and the corpse of a
man it said was killed during a CIA interrogation.
Another video, also aired by Al-Jazeera, showed a man described as mentally
disturbed beating his head against a wall. Al-Jazeera's brief excerpts included
a hooded Iraqi male in his underwear, a naked figure lying on the floor next to
what appeared to be a pool of blood and another with a man who appeared to be
Graner smiling as he held a male prisoner.
The SBS broadcast said many of the new photos showed Graner having sex with
Lynndie England, a 23-year-old reservist from Fort Ashby, W.Va., who is serving
a three-year prison term for abusing detainees. England said Graner fathered her
Those photos were not shown.
SBS said the images it showed were among photographs the American Civil
Liberties Union was trying to obtain from the U.S. government under a Freedom of
The ACLU said it did not know how the images broadcast by SBS corresponded to
its litigation. But it called on the U.S. government to investigate whether the
abuse was systematic instead of blaming it on a few individuals.
"We continue to see undeniable evidence that abuse and torture has been
widespread and systematic, yet high level government officials have not been
held accountable for creating the policies that led to these atrocities,"
Anthony D. Romero, the ACLU's executive director, said in a statement.