Dogs terrorized Abu Ghraib detainees: witness

More ghastly revelations about how your tax dollars are being used to secure freedom in Iraq. Via TruthOut:

Witness: Dogs Bit Abu Ghraib Detainees
By David Dishneau
The Associated Press

Tuesday 26 July 2005

Two Iraqis at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison were bitten by dogs as they were being handled by sergeants who were competing to see who could scare more detainees, a witness testified Tuesday.

Pvt. Ivan L. “Chip” Frederick II – himself convicted of abusing inmates at the military prison – testified by phone in the Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent of a grand jury proceeding, for Sgts. Santos A. Cardona and Michael J. Smith.

The Army had announced the hearing on Monday.

A dog handled by Cardona bit a detainee on both thighs, severely enough to require stitches, Frederick said. A dog handled by Smith bit an inmate on one of his wrists, but not hard enough to the break the skin, he said.

Frederick also said he heard both defendants say they were competing, using their dogs, to see how many detainees they could frighten into urinating on themselves.

He is serving an eight-year sentence at a military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., after pleading guilty to conspiracy, dereliction of duty, maltreatment of detainees, assault and committing an indecent act.

Frederick was the first witness at the hearing at Fort Meade, which is about 15 miles south of Baltimore.

Cardona, of the 42nd Military Police Detachment at Fort Bragg, N.C., and Smith, the 523rd Military Police Detachment of Fort Riley, Kan., face various counts of cruelty and maltreatment, conspiracy to maltreat detainees, aggravated assault, dereliction and duty and making a false official statement. Smith also faces one count of wrongfully committing an indecent act.

If convicted, Cardona faces up to 16 1/2 years in prison, Smith up to 29 1/2 years. They both also could face reduction in rank to private, dishonorable discharge and forfeiture of pay.

The abuses allegedly happened from November 2003 to January 2004, when both soldiers were attached to the 320th Military Police Battalion, one of the units guarding Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.

Smith told investigators in February 2004 that he and Cardona used their unmuzzled dogs to help a military intelligence unit, “psychologically breaking (detainees) down” before interrogations.

Investigators said Cardona acknowledged that his dog bit a detainee in December 2003.

Col. Thomas M. Pappas, commander of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, which conducted interrogations at Abu Ghraib, was reprimanded and fined in May.

Eight Army reservists have been convicted of abusing detainees at Abu Ghraib. Another, Pfc. Lynndie England, is awaiting trial.

Cardona’s civilian attorney, Harvey J. Volzer, didn’t return messages seeking comment Monday afternoon. It wasn’t immediately known who represented Smith.

See our last post on the ongoing torture scandal.

  1. Further details
    Via TruthOut:

    Abu Ghraib Dog Tactics Came from Guantanamo
    By Josh White
    The Washington Post

    Wednesday 27 July 2005

    Testimony further links procedures at 2 facilities.

    Military interrogators at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq learned about the use of military working dogs to intimidate detainees from a team of interrogators dispatched from the US detention facility in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, according to court testimony yesterday.

    One interrogation analyst also testified that sleep deprivation and forced nudity – which were used in Cuba on high-value detainees – later were approved tactics at Abu Ghraib. Another soldier said that interrogators would regularly pass instructions to have dog handlers and military police “scare up” detainees as part of interrogation plans, part of an approved approach that relied on exploiting the fear of dogs.

    The preliminary hearing at Fort Meade, Md., for two Army dog handlers accused of mistreating detainees provided more evidence that severe tactics approved for suspected terrorists at Guantánamo migrated to Iraq and spiraled into the notorious abuse at Abu Ghraib in the late summer and early fall of 2003. The testimony came days after an internal military investigation showed the similarity between techniques used on the suspected “20th hijacker” in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and tactics seen in photographs at the prison that shocked the world.

    Several Republican senators are pushing legislation – opposed by the White House – that would regulate the treatment of detainees at Guantánamo and other military prisons. One of them, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), released recently declassified internal memos written in 2003 by the military’s top lawyers in which they warned the Pentagon about developing severe tactics, arguing that they would heighten danger for US troops caught by the enemy, among other problems.

    “We have taken the legal and moral ‘high-road’ in the conduct of our military operations regardless of how others may operate,” Air Force Maj. Gen. Jack L. Rives wrote in a Feb. 5, 2003, memo. “We need to consider the overall impact of approving extreme interrogation techniques as giving official approval and legal sanction to the application of interrogation techniques that US forces have consistently been trained are unlawful.”

    At Fort Meade yesterday, soldiers testified that the top military intelligence officer at the prison, Col. Thomas M. Pappas, approved the use of dogs for interrogations. Maj. Matthew Miller, a prosecutor, also revealed that Pappas, faced with a request from interrogators to use dogs on three stubborn detainees captured at the same time as then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, “admitted he failed to ask” Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, then the top general in Iraq, for approval as he was supposed to have done.

    Pvt. Ivan L. “Chip” Frederick, one of the ringleaders of abuse by military police who is serving an eight-year prison term, testified by phone from Fort Leavenworth, Kan., that interrogators were authorized to use dogs and that a civilian contract interrogator left him lists of the cells he wanted dog handlers to visit. “They were allowed to use them to . . . intimidate inmates,” Frederick said.

    Sgt. Santos A. Cardona, 31, of California, and Sgt. Michael J. Smith, 24, of Florida, are charged with maltreatment of detainees, largely for allegedly encouraging and permitting unmuzzled working dogs to threaten and attack them. Prosecutors have focused on an incident caught in published photographs, when the two men allegedly cornered a naked detainee and allowed the dogs to bite him on each thigh as he cowered in fear.

    The dog handlers also allegedly participated in a “contest” to see who could make more detainees urinate or defecate on themselves, but defense attorneys contended that there is no actual witness to such a game and that the claims were merely rumors that spread throughout the prison.

    This week’s hearing is the military’s equivalent of a civilian preliminary court hearing or grand jury investigation. Maj. Glenn Simpkins, as investigating officer, will recommend whether authorities should send charges to a court-martial, whether the soldiers should face administrative punishment or whether no charges should be pursued.

    Cardona faces nine separate counts and a possible maximum sentence of 16 1/2 years in prison; Smith faces 14 separate counts and a possible maximum sentence of 29 1/2 years in prison.