|In the eyes of much of the world
this man is a torturer.
SHALEEK: The prodigal son has returned! This is
him, we love him to death.
But in his hometown of Roselle, New Jersey Javal
Davis is a young man who lives with his grandparents and
goes to church every Sunday. When he left school he
joined the army to serve his country.
Soon after spending several months peacekeeping in
Bosnia he was shipped off to Iraq.
JAVAL DAVIS, FORMER MILITARY POLICEMAN: We were
trained up before we left, you know, all we were going
to do, that we were going to go over there, we were
going to fight, fight, fight, fight, kill, kill, kill,
you know, the enemy.
Once they're destroyed, then we would go home. It didn't
turn out to be exactly that way.
Like other guards at Abu Ghraib Javal Davis put
prisoners in stress positions, threw cold water on them
and played loud music to keep them awake in preparation
He pleaded guilty to assaulting a group of prisoners and
then lying about it to investigators, but he says we
shouldn't condemn him.
JAVAL DAVIS: Unless you were there, unless you
were there, live it, sleep it, eat it every day, you
know, stay open about drawing an opinion. It's easy to
draw conclusion or what I would have, should have, could
have did from the comforts of your living room, from the
couch watching CNN.
If you were actually on the other side of CNN, on the
other side of the camera, fighting for your life, that's
the only way you'd understand, that's it.
KEN DAVIS, FORMER MILITARY POLICEMAN I hate that I
would even know the word Abu Ghraib, I hate it because
it hurts. it's like a wound that doesn't heal.
Like Javal, Ken Davis was a military policeman in
the 372nd Company. He enlisted on September 11, 2001,
wanting to do something for his country, but scarred by
his experiences in Iraq he left the army and became a
policeman in Maryland.
KEN DAVIS: I went over there believing that I can
help Iraqi people be free. I believe in that. But after
Abu Ghraib, I wish I had never been a part of it.
When someone will come up to me and say, "Hey, we hear
you were in Iraq, what unit were you in?" I have to pick
my head up and say, "I was with 372nd MP company."
Last year, in my first story on Abu Ghraib, I
interviewed Iraqis who were tortured in the prison. Abu
Maan and Haj Ali shared terrible stories with me about
months they spent without charge being abused by guards
HAJ ALI, (Translation): They’d load a pistol and
put it here and tell me in Arabic, “Execution,
ABU MAAN (Translation): What has information got to
do with making you drink urine? If his aim was to get
It’s not about information at all, it’s about a few
Americans in a frenzy of sadism, headed by Rumsfeld,
sadist number one. And sadism filtered down to some
Americans, not all.
HAJ ALI, (Translation): I can never forget their
faces. It’s true their features differed but the monster
was the same behind the masks they were wearing.
I wanted to find out what had turned ordinary
American soldiers into the apparent monsters revealed in
According to Ken and Javal, Abu Ghraib was living hell
for the guards as well as the prisoners.
JAVAL DAVIS: It was very fearful being alone was,
you know, we were out there, we were pretty much on our
own at Abu Ghraib.
Like you drive three miles up the street from our prison
you're in Fallujah and if you drive a couple miles west,
you're in Ramadi. Now if you remember watching
television, Fallujah and Ramadi were like the hottest
spots in Iraq. We were right there. They would come down
from Fallujah, shoot mortars at us and drive back into
The military police from the 372nd Company, like
Ken and Javal were never trained to guard prisoners, but
at times there were up to 7,000 Iraqis being held in
overcrowded conditions for months on end. There were
around 75 prisoners to each soldier.
JAVAL DAVIS: We worked seven days straight, you
know, 12-, 16-hour days. We didn't have enough people to
man all the positions and it was just... it was hard.
REPORTER: And where did you sleep?
JAVAL DAVIS: I slept in the prison cell. It was
myself and seven other soldiers, you know, we were seven
to a cell. I mean, we slept in the same conditions that
the prisoners did.
But the prisoners certainly received different
treatment. When I met with Ken and Javal I had already
obtained a disc with thousands of previously unreleased
photographs taken by MPs who served at the prison. Of
the thousands of photos and videos taken at Abu Ghraib
most are snapshots of the everyday life of the soldiers.
Others reveal how out of control the prison had become.
The most shocking experience for both Javal and Ken, was
on November 24, 2003 in the camp compound outside the
cellblocks. The prisoners started a riot to protest
their living conditions, which official reports say were
overcrowded and dangerous.
JAVAL DAVIS: I heard it over the radio, I heard
it. All you heard was over the radio "We're out of less
lethal, it's not working," you know, "what do we do?"
KEN DAVIS: And the command came back across the radio
and it just sent shivers down our backs. They said, "If
you're out of non-lethal rounds, we are in a combat zone
- you go to lethal rounds."
JAVAL DAVIS: "We're going hot. We're going live." And
the next thing you know - boom, boom, brrrr. And you
just heard it, like a turkey shoot.
KEN DAVIS: You've got to understand these are Iraqis,
unarmed, they might have shanks, spoons that they've
sharpened, whatever, tent stakes, rocks, but they're
inside of concertina wire, they're not going anywhere.
And now they're being shot.
So as I roll up, I have my weapon out, I'm thinking
people are breaching the wire, they're coming through.
No-one's coming through the wire.
JAVAL DAVIS: Next thing you know, the Medevac
chopper's coming in, the helicopters coming in like
crazy, they were taking out the wounded ones and the
KEN DAVIS: I see them all huddled in a second
containment where their tents are and they're dragging a
dead guy out and throw him by my feet. So I looked at
the chaplain's aide who responded, he had ended up right
beside me I said, "What are we doing?" I said, "This
guy's dead and he's unarmed."
JAVAL DAVIS: When they went to live ammunition, wow,
I mean it's one of those things. I mean, unfortunate a
lot of lives were lost that day. Oh, yeah.
These are the corpses of the men killed that day.
The US Army told Dateline that the use of live rounds
KEN DAVIS: And I remember calling home that night
and... saying "I can't take this any more because if
this is what we're going to do, if this is what we have
come to, I'm done." But being done and being able to
leave is two different things. So you just have to suck
it up, get over it, as they say, and just do what you're
told to do.
In the months leading up to the riot, the
insurgency had taken hold and the Americans were
desperate for intelligence to stop the killing of their
troops. In September 2003 General Geoffrey Miller, who
was in charge of Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay, was sent
to Abu Ghraib to upgrade interrogation techniques. When
Javal Davis arrived, soon after Miller's new regime had
started, things were already far from normal.
JAVAL DAVIS: When we took over from the 72nd MP
Company, you know, the guys were butt naked in the jail
cells and had like panties on their head. I'm like, I'd
never seen that before. I'm like, "Why are these guys
naked?" Our company commander was even like, "What's
going on with all the nakedness? Why are all these guys
naked?" And they're answering back to them from the
other MP company was, "Hey, this is what the MI guys -
this is what they want", you know. That's how it goes,
Putting MI or military intelligence in charge of
the MPs was one of General Miller's recommendations,
even though it runs counter to army doctrine.
REPORTER: Who told you to stress the prisoners out or
who told you to prepare them for interrogation?
JAVAL DAVIS: The military intelligence personnel,
they had an analyst, a linguist and an interrogator,
their job, they come up with a list of instructions -
"OK, keep this guy up, he can sleep up to two hours, up
to 5 hours, sleep for 15 minutes, up. Slam the doors,
keep them up.” You know, stress positions, things like
REPORTER: Nothing inside you thought, "I shouldn't
be doing this?"
JAVAL DAVIS: Of course, I mean, it's... I mean who
wants to... First off my attitude was I'm tired, I'm the
MP, I'm the combat support MP, it's not my job. I don't
feel like going around waking everybody up, I want to go
to sleep myself.
So some nights I didn't do what they told me to do,
that's why I ultimately I was replaced, you know, the
story be told correctly.
While he spent several months at Abu Ghraib, Javal
Davis only spent one week guarding high value prisoners
in Cell Block 1A which is where most of the photos of
abuse were taken.
REPORTER: So what did you do in that week you were in
Cell Block 1A?
JAVAL DAVIS: Hit the garbage cans, slammed doors,
threw cold water, played the radio music loud, stuff
like that. That's what I did. I just kept them awake,
made life miserable. Put the radio up to the megaphone
and play heavy metal music for like four hours straight,
you know. That's it.
Some of the younger detainees, you know, they started
liking it so you see them playing air guitar out of
their cell door, you know, they're like "Yeah." So oh,
God, I've got to change this. So I changed all that. I
put in rap music one time.
It's like everyone loves hip-hop music, all the youth.
So you see them bobbing their heads in the cell, so
you're like "Oh, I can't play that." So then I settle
with country music. They hate country music. That was
the kicker. That worked.
REPORTER: Did you get to... Did you feel that you
were turning into a monster?
JAVAL DAVIS: Yeah, I could see... I wouldn't say a
monster but, yeah, you could say a monster. I was
totally desensitised. It was like after time, over time
at being at Abu Ghraib, you know, with your life on the
line every day, you just start to not care. I mean,
that's pretty much how it went.
The soldier who was seen as the biggest monster of
all at Abu Ghraib was the so called ringleader, Charles
Graner. This is him on November 8, 2003. The prisoners
in these photos are the same people that Javal Davis was
convicted of assaulting.
These men were suspected of leading a riot in the
outside camp which resulted in a female MP being hit in
the face with a brick. This attack infuriated Javal.
JAVAL DAVIS: Everyone was very upset, myself
included. That was the last straw. We were eating the
same food, living in the same cells, my life sucks just
like yours. I'm away from home, you know. You're sitting
here, you trying to take our life, that's it. I snapped.
And that's what happened.
Your mind frame, your way of thinking is so jaded
because, you know, life sucks there. Your life's on the
line every day, you lose control. That's what happened.
It happened to anyone.
Javal Davis was charged with throwing his
bodyweight on the pile of prisoners. According to him it
was an isolated 10-second lapse of judgment.
JAVAL DAVIS: If you look at my record of trial, my
record of trial, exactly what I'm accused of, exactly
what I was charged with, step on the finger and toe of a
detainee, landed on them with my body weight, getting
up, yelling at them and leaving.
Later that night, when Javal had left the scene,
the prisoners were stripped naked and ordered to
masturbate. Graner then put the prisoners in formation
for a human pyramid.
Ken Davis says that Graner felt he was being compromised
and did consult his conscience when he started to
torture the prisoners.
KEN DAVIS: Graner actually came to me early in
October and had told me that they're making him do
things that are legally and morally, he feels are
legally and morally wrong.
REPORTER: He said that?
KEN DAVIS: He did, and that was early October.
Late October is when all the pictures, a lot of the
events started taking place.
When people slate Graner and these seven as monsters,
you have to ask yourself who created the environment for
this to go on? Who opened the door for these people,
these young soldiers to walk through? Those are the
On November 16, 2003, a few weeks after the
torture had begun, Graner got a commendation from his
platoon leader, Captain Brinson.
STATEMENT: "Corporal Graner, you are doing a fine
job in tier one. You have received many accolades from
the military intelligence units here and specifically
from Lieutenant Colonel Jordan.
Continue to perform to this level and you will help us
succeed at our overall mission".
KEN DAVIS: For someone, after they've done all this,
to get a counselling statement praising the work you're
doing on Tier 1A in the hard site, you're not going to
stop. You're going to keep going and you're going to
take it up a notch. You're going to take it up a level,
especially when you're getting high fives and
that-a-boys and "keep up the great work", you know, from
officers of military intelligence and OGA.
Charles Graner is currently serving a 10-year
CHARLES GRANER: I was a soldier and if I did
wrong, here I am.
The longest sentence anyone has received for
torturing prisoners to death in Iraq is five months.
KEN DAVIS: This is actually my prison cell, that
is my bed, where I slept.
Ken Davis came home in early December 2003 to get
treatment for an injury. He says he reported the abuses
he witnessed to army superiors but no-one took any
KEN DAVIS: At first they're just like "Oh really,
see a chaplain, talk to a chaplain about it, talk to the
chaplain about it." A lot of people, they use psychology
on you, "Well it's all your perception. It's how you
perceive things. Maybe it's not as bad as what it really
A few weeks later, on January 14, MP Joseph Darby
handed investigators a disc containing photos of abuse.
Another three months passed before the scandal became
JAVAL DAVIS: I was sitting eating in chow hall and
I looked up at CNN and I saw a picture of me when I was
like 16 years old. I'm like, "What the hell am I doing
on television?" And then I saw like the photographs and
I couldn't believe it. I'm like, "Oh, my God."
When the torture scandal broke Javal Davis and six
other low ranking soldiers were charged for the abuses.
All defended themselves by saying they were acting under
direct orders. The army denies this, claiming they acted
on their own volition.
JAVAL DAVIS: They tried to say that we were some
uneducated, dumb, poor kids from 'Garbagecan' USA when
it didn't turn out to be that way. I actually do have a
brain, I do have some intelligence and I wasn't going to
lay down and let the government run my name into the
ground, or my family, or lead people astray. It just
isn't going to be that way.
Before Abu Ghraib, Javal Davis had an exemplary
record. He was a track and field star at high school,
and seeing his leadership potential his coach encouraged
him to join the army.
Even though Javal has served his time, he and his family
are determined to appeal his conviction. Paul Bergrin is
PAUL BERGRIN, LAWYER: Javal Davis, long time no
JAVAL DAVIS: What's going on brother?
Paul Bergrin is pinning his hopes on the upcoming
trial of two dog handlers at Abu Ghraib. Sergeants
Michael Smith and Santos Cardona who were also charged
with abusing prisoners.
PAUL BERGRIN: It's starting to explode from almost
the top now.
The former head of military intelligence at Abu
Ghraib has been given immunity to testify at the dog
handlers' trial. Paul Bergrin is sure this will expose
the entire chain of command's responsibility for the
PAUL BERGRIN: I don't think there's any way in the
world anyone wants to know what Rumsfeld told Sanchez,
and what Sanchez told Geoffrey Miller, because you know
what they told him "We don't care what you do, just get
in there and get us information. You can kill 'em for
all we care. Treat 'em like dogs". We don't care how you
get the information. Your job is to get the information"
And I think that is starting to roll down hill.
Javal Davis always saw himself as a proud and
dedicated soldier but the way he was treated by the
military has left him deeply disillusioned.
JAVAL DAVIS: If I could say something to the
decision makers, I'd say, "You stabbed me in the back,
you stabbed a whole bunch of soldiers in the back, you
know, left a whole lot of soldiers out there to dry, you
know." That's what I say to my leadership, "Shame on
Ken Davis hasn't lost faith in all of America's
institutions, but he thinks that by not telling the
truth about Abu Ghraib, the military and the
administration will pay the price.
KEN DAVIS: It was said, right in the New
Testament, the truth doesn't have to justify itself
because the truth will be known, So it's kind of one of
those things where OK, if you want to lie, go ahead
because the truth will be known and people are going to
see it and if that's what you want your legacy based on,
And there are soldiers that know the truth. We battle
with what we battle internally, the war isn't over for
us because inside is a fight every single day that we