August 7, 2004 in Nation/World

Soldier says intelligence officials led, directed abuse at Iraq prison

David Dishneau Associated Press
 

HAGERSTOWN, Md. – An Army reservist who saw naked detainees being humiliated at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq says military intelligence officials led and directed the abuse.

The account by Kenneth A. Davis, a former sergeant in the Maryland-based 372nd Military Police Company, contradicts the government’s position that only members of Davis’ unit were directly responsible for the abuse.

Davis’ account – in a May statement to Army investigators and in interviews this week with the Associated Press – makes him the first member of the unit who is not facing charges to publicly describe one of the episodes that led to criminal charges against others. No military intelligence personnel have been charged.

Davis says military intelligence soldiers were more culpable in the incident he witnessed than a military intelligence analyst acknowledged during testimony Thursday at the pretrial hearing of Pfc. Lynndie England, one of seven members of the 372nd charged with abusing detainees.

Davis, 33, said Friday that testimony given Thursday by Spc. Israel Rivera, an analyst with the 325th Military Intelligence Battalion, was “inaccurate.”

Rivera testified Thursday that military police forced detainees to crawl naked “low enough that their genitalia were rubbing on the floor, causing pain.” Rivera said two members of his unit, Spc. Armin J. Cruz and Spc. Roman Krol, participated in the abuse, and that he was disgusted by it.

Davis said it was Cruz and Krol who forced the men to crawl across the floor while demanding that they confess to raping a boy in the prison. Davis said he doesn’t recall any military police joining in the abuse.

He said that when he questioned Rivera about the possibility that the men were innocent, Rivera replied, “I’ve been doing this longer than you’ve been in the military. You know, sergeant, they are guilty.”

Davis and Rivera are among seven soldiers and a civilian interpreter photographed standing around three naked men shackled together on the floor of an Abu Ghraib corridor on Oct. 25. Davis said he happened upon the scene when he went looking for a soldier in a prison area where interrogations took place.

He said he found the soldier talking with Spc. Charles A. Graner Jr., one of the reservists charged with abuse. Davis said Cruz and Krol were the perpetrators, while he and Rivera looked on. The military intelligence soldiers called on Graner mainly to yell at the detainees using his commanding voice, Davis said.

Davis said Cruz and Krol also handcuffed the naked men together face-to-face, forcing them to embrace. He said Cruz approached him and asked sarcastically, “Do you think we crossed the line?”

Davis said he replied, “I’m not sure – you are MI.” He said Cruz told him the men were being interrogated and said, “We know what we are doing.”

Krol has denied engaging in improper conduct. Cruz did not respond to e-mailed requests for comment.

Col. Jill E. Morgenthaler, a public affairs officer for the Army in Baghdad, said Rivera, Cruz and Krol have not been charged. She declined to comment whether they are under investigation or on Davis’ account.

Davis said he told his platoon leader, 1st Lt. Lewis C. Raeder, the next day that military intelligence soldiers were interrogating naked detainees. According to Davis’ written statement, Raeder replied, “They are MI and they are in charge. Let them do their job.”

The Army has admonished Raeder for not training his troops on the Geneva Convention’s prohibition on mistreatment of prisoners of war and civilian detainees.

Davis shared his story privately in April with several members of the House Armed Services Committee. He said he spoke Wednesday to an Army prosecutor who told him he may be asked to testify at courts-martial in Baghdad.

Davis said he waited until the 372nd had returned from Iraq before speaking publicly. The Cresaptown-based unit returned on Monday to Fort Lee, Va., without the accused members.

Davis returned to the United States in December for treatment of a groin injury. He received an honorable discharge for disability on July 28.

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