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Court-martial set in Iraqi prison scandal

Journalist describes new prison photos


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A U.S. Army military police officer watches over detainees at Abu Ghraib prison.
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Jeremy Sivits' hometown stands behind him. CNN's Elina Cho reports.

A new image of prisoner abuse surfaces as investigations continue into what went wrong.

Court-martial proceedings set for U.S. soldier acccused of abusing Iraqi prisoners.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is taking heat over the prisoner abuse scandal.

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Court-martial proceedings are scheduled for May 19 for a U.S. soldier accused in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, a military spokesman said Sunday.

Spc. Jeremy Sivits was charged in March with maltreatment of prisoners, conspiracy to maltreat prisoners and dereliction of duty for not preventing the maltreatment of prisoners, said Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, a U.S. military spokesman.

Sivits could face a bad conduct discharge, Kimmitt said. The court-martial will take place at coalition headquarters in Baghdad.

In an article last week by Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker magazine, Sivits was named as one of at least six soldiers facing charges in the abuse of Iraqi prisoners.

Last week, the military brought four counts against Army Pfc. Lynndie England, the woman shown smiling next to naked Iraqi prisoners in several of the photographs that were made public.

The charges against England include committing an indecent act, and assaulting Iraqi detainees on multiple occasions.

England, who has returned from Iraq and is now stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, is five months pregnant. (Full story)

The abuse revelations, along with the publication of graphic photographs from the prison, have prompted international condemnation and apologies from President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. (Full story)

Hersh has another article in The New Yorker this week that includes a photograph that shows American guards apparently setting dogs on a naked prisoner.

The photo was one of 20 pictures Hersh says were taken by a soldier in one of the MP units at the prison.

"[The prisoner's] hands are clasped behind his neck and he is leaning against the door to a cell, contorted with terror, as the dogs bark a few feet away," Hersh writes in the latest article.

"In another, taken a few minutes later, the Iraqi is lying on the ground, writhing in pain, with a soldier sitting on top of him, knee pressed to his back. Blood is streaming from the inmate's leg."

Hersh reports that military commanders did nothing about allegations of abuse from the International Committee of the Red Cross until a military policeman turned over a computer disk containing images of prisoners forced to simulate homosexual acts while American soldiers watched.

Hersh said on CNN's "Late Edition" on Sunday he learned that Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top American commander in Iraq, put U.S. prisons under the command of military intelligence in November and changed procedures that allowed MPs to participate in interrogations.

Hersh said Abu Ghraib's problems stemmed from a Defense Department thick with patterns of secrecy, disdain for the Geneva Conventions and indifference to the possibility that their plans could be wrong.

"It's not because it's a cover. It's because they don't listen to what they don't want to hear," said Hersh, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his article on the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War.

Hersh said he believed the military was under pressure last fall to end a steadily rising insurgency -- and that military intelligence officers receiving the pressure from above passed it on to military police standing guard at detention facilities. (Full story)

Editorial blames failure at top

An editorial appearing Monday in four military-oriented newspapers calls the abuses of Iraqi prisoners in Baghdad "a failure that ran straight to the top" and says accountability in the scandal is essential, "even if that means relieving top leaders from duty in a time of war."

"If their staffs failed to alert [Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard] Myers and Rumsfeld, shame on them. But shame too on the chairman and secretary who failed to inform even President Bush," says the editorial to be published in the Army Times, Air Force Times, Navy Times and Marine Corps Times.

The four newspapers together constitute the Military Times Media group, a private venture published by Gannett Co., the national newspaper chain. The newspapers cover the military and circulate among the military community.

The editorial was written by the all-civilian staff, though an official with the group told CNN that the editorial's author and one of the editors are veterans.

Interrogation techniques

The Defense Department approved a classified list of interrogation techniques last year for detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, that were aggressive but only to be used in highly controlled circumstances with approval from high levels of the Bush administration, a Pentagon official said Sunday.

The official said there was "no protocol for disrobing detainees" or taking pictures of them naked.

The official did not know if a similar list was provided for interrogations in Iraq. All detainees in Iraq are supposed to be treated according to the rules and guidelines set down by the Geneva Conventions.

Although he would not give specific examples of the techniques, the official said "the possibility that anybody could have their sleep disrupted or be made to stand for a period of time is not inconsistent with the mission of Gitmo," referring to Guantanamo.

He noted that Guantanamo detainees are believed to be people with knowledge of terrorist activities, so there is a significant effort to get information from them.

Other developments

  • The British government came under further pressure Sunday as it admitted it has been aware since as early as February that Iraqi prisoners may have been abused by British soldiers. The Red Cross said it told ministers about allegations of mistreatment months before. (Full story)
  • In his weekly radio address, Bush called the abuse "a stain on our country's honor and reputation." (Full story)
  • Vice President Dick Cheney issued a rare weekend statement Saturday, in which he voiced support for Rumsfeld. "As a former secretary of defense, I think Donald Rumsfeld is the best secretary of defense the United States has ever had. People ought to let him do his job," he said.
  • The Washington Post reported Saturday that another soldier charged in the case, Spc. Sabrina D. Harman, said in an e-mail interview that she had been assigned to break down prisoners for interrogation. Harman reportedly said that members of her military police unit took direction from Army military intelligence officers, from CIA operatives and from civilian contractors who conducted interrogations.
  • CNN's Barbara Starr, John King, Jamie McIntyre, Ed Henry and Dana Bash contributed to this report.


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