" -- --
Nearly two years after the first pictures of naked and
humiliated Iraqi detainees emerged from Abu Ghraib prison, the
full extent of the abuse became known for the first time
yesterday with a leaked report from the US army's internal
investigation into the scandal.
The catalogue of abuse, which was obtained by the online
American magazine Salon, could not have arrived at a worse time
for the Bush administration, coinciding with yesterday's United
Nations report on abuse of detainees at Guantánamo, the release
of a video showing British troops beating up Iraqi youths, and
lingering anger in the Muslim world over cartoons of the prophet
Bush administration officials had already been fending off a new
wave of anger about the torture of detainees - following the
airing of graphic images from Abu Ghraib on Australian
television - when Salon posted a story on its website yesterday
saying it had obtained what appears to be the fullest
photographic record to date of the abuse.
It said the material, gathered by the army's criminal
investigation division, included 1,325 photographs and 93 video
clips of suspected abuse of detainees, 546 photographs of
suspected dead Iraqi detainees, as well as 660 images of adult
pornography, and 29 pictures of US troops engaged in simulated
sex acts. Based on date stamps, all were recorded between
October 18 and December 30 2003, the same timeframe as the
The website published 18 pictures from the prison. Aside from
the ritualised images of humiliation - naked Iraqi men kneeling
or lying on the ground alone or in a heap or wearing women's
underwear on their heads - they also reveal the apparent
normality of those bizarre scenes within Abu Ghraib. One of the
pictures shows an army sergeant standing calmly to fill out
paperwork on a wall. Behind him is a hooded, naked detainee.
Another photograph shows Staff Sergeant Ivan Chip Frederick -
who was tried for his role in the abuse scandal - trimming his
fingernails beside an Iraqi who is standing on a box wearing a
hood and electrical wires.
There are also images of physical violence: a blood-streaked
cell, and a picture of the battered face of a corpse packed in
ice. "The DVD also includes photographs of guards threatening
Iraqi prisoners with dogs, homemade videotapes depicting hooded
prisoners being forced to masturbate, and a video showing a
mentally disturbed prisoner smashing his head against a door.
Oddly, the material also includes numerous photographs of
slaughtered animals and mundane images of soldiers travelling
around Iraq," Salon said.
The magazine said it thought the material included all of the
pictures that originally surfaced when the abuse became known in
April 2004, as well as the pictures aired on Australian
television. Human rights organisations have been fighting for
months for the army to release a full record of the abuse at Abu
Ghraib. Salon said it received the material from a member of the
military who had spent time at the jail and was familiar with
The first official response from Washington as well as
Baghdad was concerned as much with the impact these new pictures
of abuse could have in the Middle East at a time when anger
against the west is high. A Pentagon spokesman said the release
of additional images of abuse "could only further inflame and
possibly incite unnecessary violence in the world".
Iraq's prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, while condemning
the abuse at Abu Ghraib, noted that US soldiers had already been
punished for it.
Mr Jaafari's government was also on the defensive about
torture yesterday after the first direct evidence emerged that
death squads had operated from within the interior ministry.
The US general in charge of training the Iraqi police, Major
General Joseph Peterson, told the Chicago Tribune that the death
squads that had been arresting and killing Sunnis had been
operating from within the police force although they wore
commando uniforms. "We have found one of the death squads," Gen
Peterson told the paper. "They are a part of the police force of
In another development, ABC television on Wednesday night
aired audio tapes of Saddam Hussein's cabinet meetings during
the mid-1990s, including a segment in which he says he warned
Washington of a terror attack. "Terrorism is coming. I told the
Americans," Saddam is heard saying, adding that he "told the
British as well". However, he adds: "This story is coming, but
not from Iraq."