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Agent: U.S. military intelligence took part in Abu Ghraib abuse

Hearing continues for accused U.S. soldier

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A hearing for Pfc. Lynndie England will determine whether she will be court-martialed.
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FORT BRAGG, North Carolina (CNN) -- U.S. military intelligence agents took part in the abuse and sexual humiliation of three suspected rapists at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, an American agent told a court hearing Thursday.

It was the first public testimony to implicate military intelligence in the prison scandal that has sent shock waves through Iraq and much of the rest of the world.

The intelligence analyst, former Spec. Israel Rivera, testified he was invited to watch as three nude detainees were taken from the cells and made to crawl on the floor, then were piled together in a tangle of limbs and torsos.

In Rivera's words, "They were put together in a big bundle of bodies and they were handcuffed." He went on, "They were made to look like they were having sex."

His testimony came in the third day of a preliminary hearing at Fort Bragg on charges against Pfc. Lynndie England, who is prominently featured in several of the now-notorious photos from Abu Ghraib. However, England was not named as among those said to have taken part in this incident late last October.

Rivera said several prison guards participated in the abuse. He named Spec. Charles Graner Jr. and Spec. Sabrina Harman. Both are among the guards charged and awaiting courts-martial. Rivera did not remember the names of other guards who were there.

He said another intelligence analyst, Spec. Armin Cruz, had asked him to come watch for "entertainment," as Rivera termed it.

Rivera testified Cruz put his foot on the pile of bodies and pressed down on the buttocks of the men to make it appear they were having homosexual sex.

Rivera said Cruz told him the men were involved in the rape of a teen-ager, saying, "One had held the boy and the other one had raped the boy." The third detainee was said to have seen what happened, then recanted his account .

A third person from military intelligence, Spec. Roman Krol, was also present during the abuse, Rivera said.

Rivera testified Cruz asked, "You aren't going to tell anyone, are you?" Rivera answered, "No, I'm not. You've got nothing to worry about."

Rivera said he confided in a colleague the next day, but never told anyone else, and in fact, took the Fifth Amendment under questioning when the scandal first broke in January.

No military intelligence personnel have been charged in the Abu Ghraib abuses. But Cruz and Rivera have been named publicly as people still under investigation.

Earlier Thursday, an investigator testified that abuse by American guards at the Abu Ghraib prison apparently happened "all the time."

Special Agent Tyler Pieron said that the photographs showing nudity and sexual degradation were taken "here and there," but he said, "the abusive behavior -- running people into walls, that sort of thing -- seemed to go on all the time."

Pieron was the first investigator to learn of the photos and abuse allegations. He said that on the night of January 13, as he was getting ready to go to bed, a clerk walked in with an envelope addressed to CID -- the Army's Criminal Investigative Division.

"I opened it up and there was a one-page typed anonymous letter and a compact disc," Pieron said. On the disc were photos of nudity and abuse of Iraqi prisoners.

He said it took him an hour to trace the letter to Spec. Joseph Darby, a 24-year-old from Corriganville, Maryland, serving with the 372nd Military Police Company at Abu Ghraib.

When he persuaded Darby to talk, Darby said he got the photos, almost accidentally, from Spec. Graner, a former Pennsylvania prison guard assigned to the high-security section of Abu Ghraib.

When Darby saw the photos, Pieron said, "He was troubled by it. He didn't know what to do. It shocked his conscience, basically."

He said Darby gave him the impression that "Graner was the ringleader of the abuse. If he wasn't there, it didn't happen as much."

The agent testified Darby was worried that Graner was scheduled to return to the guard shift after doing convoy duty. "He was quite frankly concerned for the detainees' lives," Pieron said.

England, who is pregnant with Graner's child, is in the third day of a preliminary hearing at Fort Bragg to determine whether she will be put on trial. Hers is the only court case related to Abu Ghraib taking place in the United States.

She faces 19 proposed charges that could lead to as much as 38 years in prison.

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