Ordered Into Reports of Prisoner Abuse
New York Times
January 17, 2004
16 - The top American commander in Iraq has ordered a criminal
investigation into allegations that detainees at the sprawling
Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad have been abused by American
forces, military officials said Friday.
A statement by the
military command in Baghdad gave no details about the scope or
severity of the incidents, saying only that Lt. Gen. Ricardo S.
Sanchez, the senior American officer in Iraq, had directed an
inquiry into the latest in a string of reported abuses of prisoners.
of specific information concerning the incidents could hinder
the investigation, which is in its early stages," the statement
A senior Pentagon
official said authorities had been alerted to the possible abuse
of detainees in the past few days and were taking the allegations
occupation is holding thousands of suspected insurgents and criminals
at Abu Ghraib, a large prison west of Baghdad that was notorious
during the rule of Saddam Hussein for overcrowded cells and torture
The inquiry ordered
by General Sanchez is expected to add fuel to allegations by Amnesty
International and many former detainees that the American captors
have treated prisoners harshly or abused them in certain cases.
Earlier this month,
three Army reservists were discharged for abusing prisoners at
Camp Bucca, a detention center near Basra, in southern Iraq. In
late December, Brig. Gen. Ennis Whitehead III determined that
the three soldiers had kicked and punched prisoners or encouraged
others to do so.
Late last year, Lt. Col. Allen B. West, a battalion commander
in the Fourth Infantry Division, was allowed to resign from the
Army after he fired a pistol near a suspected supporter of insurgents
during an interrogation in August to frighten him into giving
up information about impending attacks against allied soldiers
near Tikrit. Colonel West has defended his actions as necessary
to protect his troops.
In addition, the
Marine Corps has charged eight Marine reservists in the death
of an Iraqi prisoner near Nasiriya last June. Two of the eight
marines face charges of negligent homicide, while others face
lesser charges, Marine officials said.