US military high court hears Abu Ghraib appeal

The US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces on May 3 heard arguments in the appeal of Army Spc. Charles Graner, sentenced to 10 years for abuses committed at Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison. Graner, alleged ringleader of the Abu Ghraib abuse, was convicted in 2005 of conspiracy, assault, maltreating prisoners, dereliction of duty, and committing indecent acts. Graner’s lawyer argued that the defense was denied access to classified documents that may have shown some of the detainee treatment was actually part of the “enhanced interrogation techniques” approved by then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The government argued that the defense had access to the documents before the trial. A ruling is expected by August.

In February, the same court upheld the convictions of two soldiers found guilty of offenses committed as guards at Abu Ghraib. Army Spc. Sabrina Harman had been convicted of conspiracy, dereliction of duty and maltreatment of prisoners dating back to November 2003. Sgt. Michael Smith, similarly, was found guilty of conspiracy to maltreat prisoners, dereliction of duty, and indecent acts. Harman first gained notoriety by posing with a thumbs-up sign beside a pyramid of naked detainees, while Smith is best known for using a Belgian shepherd dog to intimidate prisoners. The appeals court upheld the convictions, finding no reversible error in the decision of the lower court, the Army Court of Criminal Appeals. Last May, the Obama administration decided not to release photographs allegedly depicting rape and sexual assault carried out against Abu Ghraib detainees. In 2006, Abu Ghraib was turned over to Iraqi authorities and has since been renamed Baghdad Central Prison.

From Jurist, May 3. Used with permission.

See our last posts on the Abu Ghraib and US atrocities in Iraq.

  1. Abu Ghraib MP unit remobilized to Iraq
    From CBS News, April 9:

    The Army Reserve unit tarnished by the Abu Ghraib detainee-abuse scandal has been mobilized to return to Iraq in its first deployment since photographs of naked, humiliated prisoners surfaced more than six years ago, the Army said Friday…

    The 372nd Military Police Company of Cresaptown will leave April 29 for one to three months of training at Fort Bliss, Texas, followed by a planned deployment to Iraq, said Sgt. Darius Kirkwood, a spokesman for the 200th Military Police Command at Fort Meade. Few members of the unit remain from when the detainee photographs were taken, due to normal turnover, he said.

    Kirkwood said the group’s final destination could change, depending on the military’s needs.