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Abu Ghraib Officer Escapes Abuse Charges

(CBS/AP) A military court Tuesday acquitted a U.S. Army officer of failing to control U.S. soldiers accused of abusing detainees at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, but it found him guilty of disobeying an order.

Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan was the only officer and the last of 12 defendants to go to trial in the Abu Ghraib 2003 scandal.

The allegations of detainee abuse at the U.S.-run prison first came to light with the release of photos of U.S. soldiers smiling while detainees, often naked, were held in painful and humiliating positions at the prison. Jordan, 51, never appeared in the inflammatory photos, but he was accused of fostering a climate conducive to abuse.

The jury of nine colonels and one brigadier general deliberated for about seven hours before issuing its verdicts Tuesday.

It acquitted Jordan of three counts: cruelty and maltreatment for subjecting detainees to forced nudity and intimidation by dogs; dereliction of a duty to properly train and supervise soldiers in humane interrogation rules; and failing to obey a lawful general order by ordering dogs used for interrogations without higher approval.

Jordan was found guilty of disobeying a general's order not to talk to others about the investigation into the abuse.

Ň™t√‘ ironic but not entirely surprising given the military make-up of the jury that the only charge of which he was found guilty had to do with him disobeying an order not to discuss the matter with others,°¶said CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen.

Jordan faces a maximum sentence of five years. The court planned to begin the sentencing hearing Tuesday afternoon.

Attorneys for the government and the defense declined to comment.

Jordan was director of Abu Ghraib's interrogation center from mid-September until mid-November 2003. He was also the senior officer inside a prison cellblock on Nov. 24, 2003, during at least part of an episode that included a strip-search for smuggled weapons and a dog brought in to intimidate a detainee during questioning in his cell.

The prosecutor said in his closing argument Monday that Jordan was not court-martialed for what he did at Abu Ghraib, but for what he did not do.

"He didn't train. He didn't supervise," Lt. Col. John P. Tracy told the military panel.

The defense said Jordan was outside the command chain and therefore not responsible for the military intelligence soldiers who interrogated detainees and the military police who guarded them.

"There is no evidence of a failure to train and supervise, no evidence of failure to ensure compliance," Maj. Kris Poppe said in his closing for the defense.

The verdict on the allegations involving the Abu Ghraib abuses effectively ends the legal phase of the scandal, reports CBS News Radio correspondent Peter Maer.

Eleven soldiers have been convicted of crimes in connection the Abu Ghraib scandal. The longest sentence, 10 years, was given to former Cpl. Charles Graner Jr. in 2005.

Lynndie England, who was the most recognizable face from the Abu Ghraib photos, was sentenced to three years.


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The General’s Report

On the afternoon of May 6, 2004, Army Major General Antonio M. Taguba was summoned to meet, for the first time, with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in his Pentagon conference room. Rumsfeld and his senior staff were to testify the next day, in televised hearings before the Senate and the House Armed Services Committees, about abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, in Iraq. The previous week, revelations about Abu Ghraib, including photographs showing prisoners stripped, abused, and sexually humiliated, had appeared on CBS and in The New Yorker. In response, Administration officials had insisted that only a few low-ranking soldiers were involved and that America did not torture prisoners. They emphasized that the Army itself had uncovered the scandal.

If there was a redeeming aspect to the affair, it was in the thoroughness and the passion of the Army’s initial investigation. The inquiry had begun in January, and was led by General Taguba, who was stationed in Kuwait at the time. Taguba filed his report in March. In it he found:



Numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees . . . systemic and illegal abuse.

Taguba was met at the door of the conference room by an old friend, Lieutenant General Bantz J. Craddock, who was Rumsfeld’s senior military assistant. Craddock’s daughter had been a babysitter for Taguba’s two children when the officers served together years earlier at Fort Stewart, Georgia. But that afternoon, Taguba recalled, “Craddock just said, very coldly, ‘Wait here.’ ” In a series of interviews early this year, the first he has given, Taguba told me that he understood when he began the inquiry that it could damage his career; early on, a senior general in Iraq had pointed out to him that the abused detainees were “only Iraqis.” Even so, he was not prepared for the greeting he received when he was finally ushered in.

“Here . . . comes . . . that famous General Taguba—of the Taguba report!” Rumsfeld declared, in a mocking voice. The meeting was attended by Paul Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld’s deputy; Stephen Cambone, the Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence; General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (J.C.S.); and General Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, along with Craddock and other officials. Taguba, describing the moment nearly three years later, said, sadly, “I thought they wanted to know. I assumed they wanted to know. I was ignorant of the setting.”

In the meeting, the officials professed ignorance about Abu Ghraib. “Could you tell us what happened?” Wolfowitz asked. Someone else asked, “Is it abuse or torture?” At that point, Taguba recalled, “I described a naked detainee lying on the wet floor, handcuffed, with an interrogator shoving things up his rectum, and said, ‘That’s not abuse. That’s torture.’ There was quiet.”

Rumsfeld was particularly concerned about how the classified report had become public. “General,” he asked, “who do you think leaked the report?” Taguba responded that perhaps a senior military leader who knew about the investigation had done so. “It was just my speculation,” he recalled. “Rumsfeld didn’t say anything.” (I did not meet Taguba until mid-2006 and obtained his report elsewhere.) Rumsfeld also complained about not being given the information he needed. “Here I am,” Taguba recalled Rumsfeld saying, “just a Secretary of Defense, and we have not seen a copy of your report. I have not seen the photographs, and I have to testify to Congress tomorrow and talk about this.” As Rumsfeld spoke, Taguba said, “He’s looking at me. It was a statement.”

At best, Taguba said, “Rumsfeld was in denial.” Taguba had submitted more than a dozen copies of his report through several channels at the Pentagon and to the Central Command headquarters, in Tampa, Florida, which ran the war in Iraq. By the time he walked into Rumsfeld’s conference room, he had spent weeks briefing senior military leaders on the report, but he received no indication that any of them, with the exception of General Schoomaker, had actually read it. (Schoomaker later sent Taguba a note praising his honesty and leadership.) When Taguba urged one lieutenant general to look at the photographs, he rebuffed him, saying, “I don’t want to get involved by looking, because what do you do with that information, once you know what they show?”

Taguba also knew that senior officials in Rumsfeld’s office and elsewhere in the Pentagon had been given a graphic account of the pictures from Abu Ghraib, and told of their potential strategic significance, within days of the first complaint. On January 13, 2004, a military policeman named Joseph Darby gave the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division (C.I.D.) a CD full of images of abuse. Two days later, General Craddock and Vice-Admiral Timothy Keating, the director of the Joint Staff of the J.C.S., were e-mailed a summary of the abuses depicted on the CD. It said that approximately ten soldiers were shown, involved in acts that included:



Having male detainees pose nude while female guards pointed at their genitals; having female detainees exposing themselves to the guards; having detainees perform indecent acts with each other; and guards physically assaulting detainees by beating and dragging them with choker chains.

Taguba said, “You didn’t need to ‘see’ anything—just take the secure e-mail traffic at face value.”

I learned from Taguba that the first wave of materials included descriptions of the sexual humiliation of a father with his son, who were both detainees. Several of these images, including one of an Iraqi woman detainee baring her breasts, have since surfaced; others have not. (Taguba’s report noted that photographs and videos were being held by the C.I.D. because of ongoing criminal investigations and their “extremely sensitive nature.”) Taguba said that he saw “a video of a male American soldier in uniform sodomizing a female detainee.” The video was not made public in any of the subsequent court proceedings, nor has there been any public government mention of it. Such images would have added an even more inflammatory element to the outcry over Abu Ghraib. “It’s bad enough that there were photographs of Arab men wearing women’s panties,” Taguba said.

On January 20th, the chief of staff at Central Command sent another e-mail to Admiral Keating, copied to General Craddock and Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, the Army commander in Iraq. The chief of staff wrote, °»Sir: update on alleged detainee abuse per our discussion. DID IT REALLY HAPPEN? Yes, currently have 4 confessions implicating perhaps 10 soldiers. DO PHOTOS EXIST? Yes. A CD with approx 100 photos and a video—CID has these in their possession.°… In subsequent testimony, General Myers, the J.C.S. chairman, acknowledged, without mentioning the e-mails, that in January information about the photographs had been given °»to me and the Secretary up through the chain of command. . . . And the general nature of the photos, about nudity, some mock sexual acts and other abuse, was described.°…

Nevertheless, Rumsfeld, in his appearances before the Senate and the House Armed Services Committees on May 7th, claimed to have had no idea of the extensive abuse. °»It breaks our hearts that in fact someone didn°«t say, °∆Wait, look, this is terrible. We need to do something,°« °… Rumsfeld told the congressmen. °»I wish we had known more, sooner, and been able to tell you more sooner, but we didn°«t.°…

Rumsfeld told the legislators that, when stories about the Taguba report appeared, °»it was not yet in the Pentagon, to my knowledge.°… As for the photographs, Rumsfeld told the senators, °»I say no one in the Pentagon had seen them°…; at the House hearing, he said, °»I didn°«t see them until last night at 7:30.°… Asked specifically when he had been made aware of the photographs, Rumsfeld said: There were rumors of photographs in a criminal prosecution chain back sometime after January 13th . . . I don°«t remember precisely when, but sometime in that period of January, February, March. . . . The legal part of it was proceeding along fine. What wasn°«t proceeding along fine is the fact that the President didn°«t know, and you didn°«t know, and I didn°«t know.

°»And, as a result, somebody just sent a secret report to the press, and there they are,°… Rumsfeld said. Taguba, watching the hearings, was appalled. He believed that Rumsfeld°«s testimony was simply not true. °»The photographs were available to him—if he wanted to see them,°… Taguba said. Rumsfeld°«s lack of knowledge was hard to credit. Taguba later wondered if perhaps Cambone had the photographs and kept them from Rumsfeld because he was reluctant to give his notoriously difficult boss bad news. But Taguba also recalled thinking, °»Rumsfeld is very perceptive and has a mind like a steel trap. There°«s no way he°«s suffering from C.R.S.—Can°«t Remember Shit. He°«s trying to acquit himself, and a lot of people are lying to protect themselves.°… It distressed Taguba that Rumsfeld was accompanied in his Senate and House appearances by senior military officers who concurred with his denials.

°»The whole idea that Rumsfeld projects—°∆We°«re here to protect the nation from terrorism°«—is an oxymoron,°… Taguba said. °»He and his aides have abused their offices and have no idea of the values and high standards that are expected of them. And they°«ve dragged a lot of officers with them.°…

In response to detailed queries about this article, Colonel Gary Keck, a Pentagon spokesman, said in an e-mail, °»The department did not promulgate interrogation policies or guidelines that directed, sanctioned, or encouraged abuse.°… He added, °»When there have been abuses, those violations are taken seriously, acted upon promptly, investigated thoroughly, and the wrongdoers are held accountable.°… Regarding early warnings about Abu Ghraib, Colonel Keck said, °»Former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld has stated publicly under oath that he and other senior leaders were not provided pictures from Abu Ghraib until shortly before their release.°… (Rumsfeld, through an aide, declined to answer questions, as did General Craddock. Other senior commanders did not respond to requests for comment.)

During the next two years, Taguba assiduously avoided the press, telling his relatives not to talk about his work. Friends and family had been inundated with telephone calls and visitors, and, Taguba said, °»I didn°«t want them to be involved.°… Taguba retired in January, 2007, after thirty-four years of active service, and finally agreed to talk to me about his investigation of Abu Ghraib and what he believed were the serious misrepresentations by officials that followed. °»From what I knew, troops just don°«t take it upon themselves to initiate what they did without any form of knowledge of the higher-ups,°… Taguba told me. His orders were clear, however: he was to investigate only the military police at Abu Ghraib, and not those above them in the chain of command. °»These M.P. troops were not that creative,°… he said. °»Somebody was giving them guidance, but I was legally prevented from further investigation into higher authority. I was limited to a box.°…


Abu Ghraib Officer's Statement Tossed

Military Judge Tosses Abu Ghraib Officer's Statement to Army Officer

A military judge on Tuesday threw out a statement made by the only officer charged in the abuse of Abu Ghraib prisoners because he wasn't properly advised of his rights. The ruling will likely force the government to drop its allegation that Army Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan lied when he said he never saw prisoners being mistreated.

"The reality is that this is the only piece of evidence there is" to support the charge, Maj. Kris Poppe, a member of Jordan's defense team, told reporters. Dropping the charge wouldn't seriously weaken the government's case that Jordan allowed detainees to be stripped naked and intimidated by dogs at the Iraqi prison, however. Those allegations are based on other people's statements.

Col. Stephen R. Henley found during a three-hour hearing that Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, who spoke with Jordan, didn't properly advise Jordan of his rights during his investigation of prisoner abuse by U.S. soldiers. Prosecutors say Jordan, who headed an interrogation center, lied when he told Taguba he never saw nude detainees, did not know of dogs being used in interrogations and had not supervised interrogators or anybody guarding prisoners.

Dismissing the charge would leave Jordan still facing six counts and up to 16 years in prison. Prosecutors on Tuesday also dismissed another count failure to obey a lawful order after the defense argued it duplicated another allegation. Jordan, a reservist from Fredericksburg, Va., was at Abu Ghraib in fall 2003, when the prisoner abuse occurred. He is on extended active duty with the Intelligence and Security Command at Fort Belvoir, Va. Eleven other U.S. soldiers, none ranking higher than staff sergeant, have been convicted of crimes, while several officers have been reprimanded but not charged. Jordan's attorneys contend that he wasn't involved in interrogations and that most of the abuses were committed by military police who weren't under his command.


Court Throws Out Rumsfeld Torture Case

rumsfeld at briefing

(AP) A federal judge says despite horrifying torture of U.S. prisoners alleged to have been committed in overseas prisons during former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's tenure, his position in the government shields him from being sued. U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan threw out a lawsuit brought on behalf of nine former prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan and said Rumsfeld cannot be held personally responsible for actions taken in connection with his government job.

The lawsuit contends the prisoners were beaten, suspended upside down from the ceiling by chains, urinated on, shocked, sexually humiliated, burned, locked inside boxes and subjected to mock executions. Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights First had argued that Rumsfeld and top military officials disregarded warnings about the abuse and authorized the use of illegal interrogation tactics that violated the constitutional and human rights of prisoners.

Hogan appeared conflicted during arguments last year. On one hand, he said he was hesitant to allow allegations of torture to go unheard. On the other hand, he said the case was unprecedented. °»This is a lamentable case,°… Hogan began his 58-page opinion Tuesday. No matter how satisfying it might seem to use courts to correct allegations of severe abuses of power, Hogan wrote, government officials are immune from such lawsuits. Additionally, foreigners held overseas are not normally afforded U.S. constitutional rights. °»Despite the horrifying torture allegations,°… Hogan said, he could find no case law supporting the lawsuit, which he previously had described as unprecedented. Hogan's opinion can be appealed.

Allowing the case to go forward, Hogan had said in December, might subject government officials to all sorts of political lawsuits. Even Osama bin Laden could sue, Hogan said, claiming two American presidents tried to have the al Qaeda leader killed. °»There is no getting around the fact that authorizing monetary damages remedies against military officials engaged in an active war would invite enemies to use our own federal courts to obstruct the armed forces' ability to act decisively and without hesitation,°… Hogan wrote Tuesday. Had the Rumsfeld lawsuit been allowed to go forward, attorneys for the ACLU might have been able to force the Pentagon to disclose what officials knew about abuses such as those at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and what was done to stop them. °»The court ruled that innocent civilians tortured by the United States cannot seek recourse in the federal courts to hold responsible U.S. officials legally liable,°… said ACLU attorney Lucas Guttentag. °»We believe that the law and Constitution require more, and that the former secretary of defense must be held accountable for his policies that led to this abuse.°…

The Justice Department had no immediate comment. Hogan also dismissed the charges against other officials named in the lawsuit: retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, former Brig. Gen. Janis L. Karpinski and Col. Thomas M. Pappas. Karpinski, whose Army Reserve unit was in charge of the Abu Ghraib prison, was demoted and is the highest-ranking officer punished in the scandal. Sanchez, who commanded U.S. forces in Iraq, retired from the Army and said his career was a casualty of the prison scandal.


Exposing The Truth Of Abu Ghraib

(CBS) Exposing the truth has not been easy for Joe Darby. He turned in the pictures of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib in Iraq °¶pictures he discovered purely by accident.
Growing up in Appalachia, Joe Darby was just an ordinary Joe. He signed up to be an MP in the Army Reserve. His local unit was sent to Abu Ghraib where Darby worked in an office, while others guarded the prisoners. And then, one day when Darby wanted scenic pictures to send home, he spotted the unit's camera buff, prison guard Charles Graner.
"So I walked up to Graner and I, you know, 'Hey do you have any pictures?' And he said 'Yeah, yeah, hold on.' Reaches into his computer bag and pulls out two CDs and just hands them to me," Darby remembers.

Asked if he thinks Graner realized what was on these discs, Darby says, "I don't think he realized what was on, but I don't think it would have mattered either way. I knew Graner and Graner trusted me."

That trust was about to change Darby's life forever. He copied Graner's discs and gave him back the originals. Later, when Darby looked at the photos he first saw scenic shots of Iraq, but then he came upon the pictures that launched the scandal. One of the first shots was a photo of a pyramid of naked Iraqis.

"I didn't realize it was Iraqis at first, you know? 'Cause we lived in prison cells too," Darby says.

At first, Darby thought the pictures were maybe of American soldiers goofing off. "I laughed. I looked at it and I laughed. And then the next photo was of Graner and England standing behind them. And I was like, 'Wait a minute. This is the prison. These are prisoners.' And then it kind of sunk in that they were doing this to prisoners. This was people being forced to do this," Darby recalls.

Forced, Darby said, by Graner, who he called the ring leader.

Asked what Charles Graner was like, Darby says, "If you were around him long enough you saw that he had a dark side, a morbid side."

And a sadistic side, according to Darby, who told 60 Minutes Graner directed the abusive posing and picture taking during his night shift when he and his buddies were alone with the prisoners.

What was going through his mind when he clicked through the photos?

"Disbelief," Darby says. "I tried to think of a reason why they would do this, you know."

"Well there's some who say, 'Look, this is a valuable interrogation tool,'" Cooper remarks.

"These were MPs. Our job wasn't to interrogate prisoners," Darby says.

"There has been testimony that some of the MPs were told to soften the prisoners up, that this was part of that," Cooper says.

"And I've heard that. And I wasn't there. I didn't work the tier. I can't say that that didn't happen," Darby replies.

But no matter why they were doing it, Darby knew what they were doing was wrong.

"I've always had a moral sense of right and wrong. And I knew that you know, friends or not, it had to stop," Darby says.

Darby says his unit was close-knit, many of the members coming from similar small town backgrounds.

Still, Darby decided he had to turn in the pictures but he didn't want his friends to know that he had done it.

Asked why it was important to him to remain anonymous, Darby says, "I knew a lot of them wouldn't understand and would view me being a stool pigeon or however, a rat, however you want to put it."

"You knew there would be some kind of investigation?" Cooper asks.

"I knew these people were going to prison," Darby says. And in his opinion, they deserved to go to prison.

Darby copied Graner's pictures onto a disc and put it in an envelope with an anonymous letter. He took the envelope to the Criminal Investigations Division °¶
CID °¶and told them it had been left on his desk.

"I said, 'This was left in my office. I was told to give it to the CID.' I said, 'Have a nice day, Sir,' and turned around and walked away," Darby recalls.

Darby hoped that would be the end of it but within less than 45 minutes, the investigator came to him.

And the investigator knew that Darby wasn't telling the truth. He promised to keep Darby's name secret, and convinced him to explain how he had really gotten those pictures. Then investigators immediately began to round up the suspects.

"Once they were brought in, once this investigation began, were they removed from the base?" Cooper asks.

"No," Darby says. "They still had their weapons. They still had unlimited access to the facility and me the whole time, for almost a month."

He says he was very scared and even slept with a pistol under his pillow. "With my hand on it. I put it in my pillow case, I put my hand on it and cocked it, cocked the hammer and I'd sleep with it under my hand under my pillow," he remembers.

He slept like this every night. "I slept in a room by myself. And anybody could come in in the middle of the night. You walk in the door, you hang a left, and then come in and cut my throat," Darby says.

"And you really thought that could happen, someone could cut your throat?" Cooper asks.

"I knew that if they found out who did it, they would be after me," he says.

Weeks later, the guards under investigation were removed and Darby could finally sleep without a gun under his pillow. The suspects were gone, and his name was still secret.

Several months later, 60 Minutes II broke the story of the pictures. An article in "The New Yorker" revealed Darby's role, though no one in Iraq seemed to notice.

But then, while Darby was having lunch in the mess hall watching Donald Rumsfeld testify before Congress about Abu Ghraib, the defense secretary said, "There are many who did their duty professionally and we should mention that as well. First, Specialist Joseph Darby, who alerted appropriate authorities that abuses were occurring."

"I just stopped in mid bite. I was eating and I just stopped. What the hell just happened? Now the anxiety came back. Now, I'm worried," Darby remembers. "Everyone in the unit knew within four hours."

What was the reaction?

"It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. You know, I got support," Darby says.

But he didn't get support back home in Cumberland, Md., a military town that felt Darby had betrayed his fellow soldiers.

The commander of the local VFW post, Colin Engelbach, told 60 Minutes what people were calling Darby.

"He was a rat. He was a traitor. He let his unit down. He let his fellow soldiers down and the U.S. military. Basically he was no good," Engelbach says.

Asked if he agrees with that, Engelbach says, "I agree that his actions that he did were no good and borderline traitor, yes."

"What he says in his defense is 'Look. I'm an MP. And this is something which was illegal,'" Cooper remarks.

"Right. But do you put the enemy above your buddies? I wouldn't," Engelbach replies.

Their hometown held a vigil for members of his unit, including the accused, not however, for Joe Darby.

"These were people who knew me since I was born. These were people who were my parents' friends, my grandparents' friends that turned against me," Darby says.

To prevent any soldiers from retaliating against him in Iraq, the military sent Darby back to the states early, ahead of the rest of his unit.

"I get called into my commander's office at like ten o'clock at night. He said, 'Do you have your bags packed?' I said 'Sir, we live in a tent. I always have my bags packed.' He said 'Good. Be on the flight line. In an hour you leave,'" Darby recalls.

When Darby arrived at Dover Air Force Base, his wife Bernadette was there to meet him. He thought they would head back home, but the Army had other plans.

An officer asked Darby what he wanted to do. "I said, 'Sir, I just want to go home. I've always just wanted to go home.' He said, 'Well son, that's not an option.' He said, 'The Army Reserve has done a security assessment of the area and it's not safe for you there. You can't go home,'" Darby remembers. "'You can probably never go home.'"

"They said, 'If you had to choose, where would you want to live?' And you know basically where do you pick, you know? You've lived a whole life in one area," he says.

Asked if it seemed fair to him, Darby says, "No."

"It's not fair. That we're being punished for him doin' the right thing," his wife Bernadette adds.

The local VFW commander told Cooper the military was right to keep Darby out of town. "Probably so. There was a lot of threats, a lotta phone calls to his wife," Engelbach remembers.

He says there was a lot of anger in Cumberland. "ѧause it really did put our troops in harm√‘ way more so than they already were," Engelbach says.

Bernadette Darby says she heard people calling her husband a traitor, that he was a dead man and that he was walking around with a bull's eye on his head.

To keep Joe and Bernadette safe, the military moved them to an Army base with body guards around the clock. "I couldn't go anywhere without security. Nowhere," Darby remembers.

"Even goin' to a restaurant?" Cooper asks.

"We walk in with, me and her and six guys?" Darby says, laughing. "And all of 'em are armed."

Darby says he was protected by bodyguards for almost six months.

While he was a villain to his neighbors, he was a hero to people he had never met, including Caroline Kennedy and Sen. Ted Kennedy, who gave him a "Profile In Courage" award in honor of President John F. Kennedy.

Joe left the Army recently, and he misses it. He and Bernadette miss their hometown as well. They say they'll never move back to Cumberland. Instead they've moved on, but they are still wary.

All Darby will say is that they have started over. He doesn't want to share what he does now, where he lives or talk about his family. "I worry about the one guy who wants to get even with me," he explains. "And that one guy could hurt me and my family."

Asked if this has made him paranoid, Darby says, "To a degree."

And some relatives from both sides of the family have turned against him and his wife.

Six of the seven guards involved in the abuse went to prison. Darby testified against Charles Graner. "He just gave me this stone cold evil stare, the entire time I was on the stand. Didn't take his eyes off me once," Darby recalls.

"What was the look?" Cooper asks.

"'You put me here. And someday I'll repay you for it,'" Darby says.

Darby had been under a gag order until the trials ended. He gave his first interview to "GQ." And he told 60 Minutes he wants to restore his unit's honor.

"I want people to understand that I went to Iraq with 200 of the finest servicemen I've ever seen in my life. But those 200, for the rest of their lives, their unit is gonna carry a bad name because of what seven individuals did," Darby says.

Maj. Gen. George Fay, who investigated Abu Ghraib, told 60 Minutes that Graner and his gang took the vast majority of the pictures for their own sadistic amusement, but that in a few cases, military intelligence officers had asked the gang to soften up a prisoner. The general called Darby "courageous" for blowing the whistle.

Darby says he didn't want the pictures leaked to the media. "I never thought it would be anything the media would get a hold of, and even if they did, I didn't think it would be as big as it was," he says.

"Do you wish that it wasn't you who was given the CDs?" Cooper asks.

"No, because if they had been given to somebody else, it might not have been reported," Darby says.

"And would that have been so bad, if it had never been reported?" Cooper asks.

"Ignorance is bliss they say but, to actually know what they were doing, you can't stand by and let that happen," Darby replies.

"There's still a lot of people though that'll say 'Look, you know, so what they did this. You know, Saddam did things that were much worse,'" Cooper remarks.

"We're Americans, we're not Saddam," Darby says. "We hold ourselves to a higher standard. Our soldiers hold themselves to a higher standard."

Asked if he'd do it again, Darby says, "Yes. They broke the law and they had to be punished."

"And it's that simple?" Cooper asks.

"It's that simple," he replies.


Defense secretary laments Abu Ghraib in farewell

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Leaving office, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld bade a sometimes emotional farewell Friday, saying the single worst day of his nearly six years there was when he learned of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse in Iraq.

Rumsfeld choked up briefly while recalling a woman in Alaska giving him a bracelet last August as a reminder of the sacrifices by soldiers of the Army's 172nd Stryker Brigade, whose yearlong tour in Iraq was extended by four months to help try to quell sectarian violence in Baghdad.

Showing it still on his wrist, Rumsfeld recalled that he told the woman he would wear the green bracelet until the 172nd came home.

He spoke at length about his concern that the United States not let Iraq and Afghanistan collapse.

"We have every chance in the world of succeeding in both those countries, but only if we have the patience and only if we have the staying power," he said. Asked about the bipartisan Iraq Study Group's recommendations for a change in approach to the Iraq war, Rumsfeld said none of the suggestions were new.

"I can't think of a thing that anyone's thought of that General (Peter) Pace and General (John) Abizaid and those folks have not been working on and analyzing and studying and adjusting to over time," he said, referring to the top two generals overseeing the Iraq war. He said the Pentagon had sent its advice to the White House on possible new approaches.

In a question-and-answer session, he was asked about his best day and his worst day as defense secretary.

"Clearly, the worst day was Abu Ghraib, seeing what went on there and feeling so deeply sorry that that happened," he said without hesitation, referring to the scandal in the spring of 2004 that triggered worldwide condemnation and prompted him to twice offer his resignation to President Bush at that time. Bush rejected those offers.

"I guess my best day, I don't know, may be a week from Monday," he said with a big grin, referring to the fact that his successor, Robert Gates, is scheduled to take over at the Pentagon on December 18.

In prepared remarks to his audience, Rumsfeld predicted that the period since he took office in January 2001 would eventually be seen as one of "enormous challenge and historic consequence."

Asked how he wants history to remember him, he said simply, "Better than the local press."

With a couple dozen troops from each military service and a few civilian Pentagon employees seated behind him on stage in the Pentagon's main auditorium, Rumsfeld spoke to an audience of several hundred people. With a big smile, he strode into the room to a cascade of applause and a few approving yelps.

"I suspect this will be among my last public remarks as secretary of defense," he said. His last full day will be December 17.

It was one of the few public appearances Rumsfeld has made since Bush announced November 8 at the White House that he was replacing Rumsfeld with Gates to get a "fresh perspective" on the Iraq war. Gates won confirmation by the Senate this week.

Rumsfeld applauded the work and dedication of Pentagon employees and said he was proud to have been associated with them.

"Each of you and future generations of Americans, as well as future generations of Iraqis and Afghans, will be able to look on these past years as a time of enormous challenge and historic consequence," he said.

"As I leave at the end of my second -- and, good Lord willing, my last -- (term) I do leave believing as I did 30 years ago that America is a truly great nation, that the American people are wise and decent," he said.

He was introduced on the stage by Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who lauded Rumsfeld as a man of courage, integrity and vision.

"This man's work ethic is incredible," Pace said. "Is he demanding? You bet." Rumsfeld then interrupted, saying with a laugh, "No! I've been on my best behavior."

Rumsfeld, 74, is one of the longest-serving defense secretaries in U.S. history and is the only person to have held the position twice. His first stint was from November 1975 to January 1977, when he held the distinction of being the youngest defense secretary in history.


Abu Ghraib dog handler won't go on to Iraq with unit

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. Army dog handler who was one of the soldiers who abused detainees at Abu Ghraib prison will not go on to Iraq with his unit, which has arrived in Kuwait, the Army decided Friday.

Although Sgt. Santos Cardona left Monday for Iraq with the 23rd Military Police Company from Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, he will remain in Kuwait for safety's sake.

"It would not be prudent" to allow him to be sent on to Iraq, the spokesman said.

"We are extremely concerned, in light of the publicity about his situation, about his personal safety," said Paul Boyce, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon, according to The Associated Press. "So for the good of the soldier, as well as the situation, he has been stopped in Kuwait pending review by the chain of command."

His case is under review, but the Army says because of the publicity surrounding his conviction he would be a target for insurgents, which would also put his fellow soldiers in danger.

The Army said Cardona has served his sentence of 90 days of hard labor, and is in the process of paying his fine at the rate of $600 a month.

His sentence did not include jail time, and after his 90 days he chose to remain in the Army. He no longer handles dogs, Boyce told AP.

Time Magazine -- whose parent company, like CNN, is Time Warner -- first reported that Cardona was returning to the Middle East with his unit.

Cardona was convicted in a court martial this summer of dereliction of duty and aggravated assault when he used his dog to terrorize a kneeling prisoner.

In the infamous case in which photos of U.S. soldiers abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib surfaced around the world, 11 soldiers were convicted of crimes related to those abuses in 2003 and early 2004.


General: Abu Ghraib scandal forced me out of Army

McALLEN, Texas (AP) -- Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, who served a tumultuous year as commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, retired from the Army on Wednesday, calling his career a casualty of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

"That's the key reason, the sole reason, that I was forced to retire," Sanchez said for a story in Thursday's editions of The (McAllen) Monitor. "I was essentially not offered another position in either a three-star or four-star command."

Sanchez had been a candidate to become the next commander of U.S. Southern Command but was passed over after the prisoner abuse scandal exploded into an international controversy. He was criticized by some for not doing more to avoid mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners.

An Army spokeswoman declined comment early Thursday.

The Army's inspector general, Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Green, concluded last year that allegations of criminal wrongdoing by Sanchez were unsubstantiated.

Sanchez, 55, served for 33 years. As commander of the Army's 5th Corps in 2003, he issued three memos authorizing harsher interrogation techniques such as stress positions, sleep deprivation and dogs at Abu Ghraib -- but only with written authorization.

The changing policies confounded Col. Thomas M. Pappas, an intelligence officer who assumed the prison's management in late 2003. Pappas was reprimanded last year for approving a request to use dogs in an interrogation without Sanchez's approval -- something Pappas testified he believed at the time the policy allowed.

"We were all confused at one time or another," Pappas testified in June at the court-martial of an Army dog handler.

Sanchez retired in a formal ceremony at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. He told the newspaper he expects to stay in the San Antonio area and will try "to contribute to the Hispanic community, developing young Hispanic leaders."


Shays: Abu Ghraib 'About Pornography'

(AP) Republican Rep. Christopher Shays said Friday the Abu Ghraib prison abuses were more about pornography than torture.

The congressman, who is in a tough re-election fight, said a National Guard unit was primarily responsible for the abuses.

"It was a National Guard unit run amok," Shays said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "It was torture because sex abuse is torture. It was gross and despicable ... This is more about pornography than torture."

In fact, the 372nd Military Police Company from Cresaptown, Md., is an Army Reserve unit not National Guard.

Shays sought to defuse controversy over previous comments suggesting the Abu Ghraib abuses weren't torture but instead involved a sex ring of troops.

"Now I've seen what happened in Abu Ghraib, and Abu Ghraib was not torture," Shays said at a debate Wednesday.

"It was outrageous, outrageous involvement of National Guard troops from (Maryland) who were involved in a sex ring and they took pictures of soldiers who were naked," added Shays. "And they did other things that were just outrageous. But it wasn't torture."

The lawmaker's comments were in a transcript of the debate provided by his opponent, Diane Farrell. Shays' campaign, contacted Friday, did not dispute the comments.

Abu Ghraib is the Baghdad prison where abuse of prisoners by U.S. soldiers led to an international scandal. Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib were brutalized and sexually humiliated by military police and intelligence agents in the fall of 2003. At least 11 U.S. soldiers have been convicted in the scandal.

In the debate, the congressman had been asked what the government should do to restore the nation's moral image in the wake of torture accusations at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and Guantanamo Bay.

Shays said Friday he wished he had more fully explained his views at the debate.

"I was maybe not as expansive as I needed to be," he said. "Of course, the degrading of anyone is torture. We need to deal with it."

Shays said his debate comments reflected the disturbing photos he has seen of Abu Ghraib abuses: "Naked Iraqis, naked Americans, Americans having sex ... gross and despicable pictures."

Shays is waging a bruising re-election fight against Farrell.

"Once again, Chris is trying to back away from an earlier statement because it's politically expedient," Farrell said Friday. "It's typical Chris."

Shays stirred controversy recently when he defended House Speaker Dennis Hastert's handling of a congressional page scandal, saying no one died like at Chappaquiddick in 1969 when Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy was involved.


Group: U.S. commanders encouraged abuse after Abu Ghraib report

NEW YORK (AP) °¶The group Human Rights Watch said in a report released Sunday that U.S. military commanders encouraged abusive interrogations of detainees in Iraq, even after the Abu Ghraib prison scandal called attention to the issue in 2004. Between 2003 and 2005, prisoners were routinely physically mistreated, deprived of sleep and exposed to extreme temperatures as part of the interrogation process, the report said.

"Soldiers were told that the Geneva Conventions did not apply, and that interrogators could use abusive techniques to get detainees to talk," wrote John Sifton, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch. The organization said it based its conclusion on interviews with military personnel and sworn statements in declassified documents. A Pentagon spokesman, Cmdr. Greg Hicks, said he wasn't aware of the report, but noted the military is reviewing its procedures regarding detainees following a Supreme Court ruling that the Geneva Conventions should apply in the conflict with al-Qaeda.

The Bush administration had previously held that certain enemies, including terrorists, were illegal combatants and not protected by those rules. The conventions prohibit "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment." Human Rights Watch focused much of its report on a detention facility called Camp Nama at Baghdad International Airport.

One soldier, whose name was withheld from the report, described a suspected insurgent being stripped naked, thrown in the mud, sprayed with water and then exposed to frigid temperatures in an attempt to soften him up for interrogators. Commanders, the soldier said, seemed confident that their treatment of prisoners was legal.

He described computerized authorization forms that had to be filled out before subjecting detainees to strobe lights, loud music, extreme heat or cold, or intimidation by barking dogs. The allegations of abuse at the camp were first reported in March by The New York Times.


After a Dark Time, A Walk Into the Sun

489 More Detainees Freed at Abu Ghraib

Iraqi soldiers wash the face of Abdul-Kader of Ramadi at Baghdad's bus station after his release. Hundreds of

"I was just driving my car," he said. "Two soldiers came up to me and said, 'Why are you stopped?' I said, 'I am scared.' Then they took me here."

On Thursday, Taha was one of 489 detainees who walked under a harsh sun out of the chain-link pen at Iraq's most infamous prison. The mass release, part of a larger plan to free 2,500 prisoners this month, is intended to bolster Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's efforts to defuse the Sunni Arab insurgency.

This week Maliki, a member of the Shiite Muslim majority, expressed a willingness to talk with insurgents and proposed pardoning people involved in the resistance that has destabilized Iraq. A fuller description of his reconciliation plan is expected soon.

The prisoner release on Thursday was the third this month. Before walking out in single file, the men stood quietly behind the fence as Deputy Prime Minister Salam al-Zobaie addressed them from atop a wooden platform.

"We want to see people who are innocent released, and go back to their homes, and go back to their normal lives," Zobaie said, adding: "Anyone who is innocent must be released. Anyone whose hands are drenched in blood must not be let go."

Some of the men were barefoot; others wore sandals. They were each given a copy of the Koran, a new set of clothes, $25 and a bus ticket. Some held up their Korans to reporters, who were kept outside the fence, and others put towels over their heads to block the sun. One elderly man, missing his left leg, hobbled out of the prison on crutches.

Mizher Jasim, 20, said he had fallen behind his economics classmates at the University of Tikrit after 6 1/2 months in prison for a "random arrest."

"There was some shootout, and they brought a lot of people in," he said, calling his treatment "not so bad."

"But I was still in detention," he said.

As of early June, more than 15,000 inmates were being held in five U.S. prisons in Iraq, according to the Iraqi Justice Ministry. Abu Ghraib currently holds 3,600 prisoners, but the number fluctuates because the prison serves as a transfer point for detainees moving to and from other detention centers, said Lt. Col. Keir-Kevin Curry, a spokesman for the American military command.

To gain their freedom, the detainees -- most of whom have not been formally charged -- had to renounce violence and pledge to be good citizens, Curry said. Their cases were reviewed, and those who were found to be "relatively low risk" were released, he said.

"In the spirit of unity and reconciliation, we need to reintegrate the detainees who were found not guilty of the serious violent crimes -- bombing, torture, kidnapping, murder," Curry said.

Iraq's deputy justice minister, Pusho Ibrahim Ali Daza Yei, sharply criticized the U.S.-led forces for imprisoning so many people.

"If there is an incident in this neighborhood or that neighborhood, they will arrest the whole neighborhood, 400 or 500 people, and there are only four or five criminals. This is why they don't send them to court," he said in an interview this week. "I say, why keep them here? They are chickens? They say, if we send them to the court, the court will release them. I say this is the law, but it's in one ear and out the other."


Pentagon to disclose interrogation tactics Pressure from lawmakers, rights groups helped sway reluctant military

WASHINGTON - In the face of growing criticism over the treatment of detainees, Pentagon officials have decided to make public all of the military°«s interrogation techniques. The decision, which comes after months of internal debate and pressure from members of Congress, would reveal interrogation tactics in a long-awaited revision of the Army Field Manual, despite arguments that it could allow enemy prisoners to better resist questioning.

Defense officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision is not public yet, said Tuesday that the Pentagon had dropped plans to keep some interrogation techniques secret by putting them in a classified section of the military manual. The two senior officials said there will not be a classified section in the manual. One of the officials said descriptions of interrogation techniques initially planned for the classified section are either being made public or are being eliminated as tactics that can be used against prisoners.

Rights groups hail decision

One human rights group hailed the decision as a welcome victory. °»I think this is huge — it°«s a very significant step toward creating the kind of clarity in the rules that military personnel have said that they lack, and that led to a lot of the abuses,°… said Elisa Massimino, Washington Director for Human Rights First. Military leaders had argued that making all of the interrogation tactics public would allow enemy combatants to train and prepare for specific techniques.

The military°«s treatment of detainees has been under increased scrutiny since the Abu Ghraib prisoner scandal in Iraq became known two years ago. Photographs that surfaced at the time showed U.S. troops beating, intimidating and sexually abusing prisoners. Human rights groups have also called for the Bush administration to close the detention center at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where three detainees committed suicide late last week.

Last month, several members of Congress privately cautioned the Pentagon against including a classified section for interrogation details. The debate has contributed to the long delay in releasing the manual, which has been in the works for more than a year. Lawmakers argued that including a secret section that would detail what interrogators can and can°«t do to prisoners could fuel concerns both at home and abroad that the U.S. military was hiding torture techniques that violate the law or rules governing detainee treatment.

'Fueling a worldwide wave of hatred'

In a letter last week to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Rep. Marty Meehan, D-Mass., said the U.S. could suffer if the manual did not reflect the Geneva Conventions requirement for human treatment of detainees. °»By perpetrating human rights abuses in the name of the Global War on Terror we are in fact fueling a worldwide wave of hatred and violence against the United States,°… said Meehan. °»To regain credibility in the world we need to act in the same manner that we speak.°… As originally planned, the classified section would have included details such as how long prisoners can be forced to sit or stand in certain positions or how hot or cold their holding areas can be kept. The defense officials did not say which interrogation techniques would be included in the manual.

Opponents said greater transparency would dispel suspicions that the military was trying to exploit legal loopholes.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said for the first time last month that officials were at odds over whether the manual should endorse different interrogation techniques for enemy insurgents than are allowed for regular prisoners of war. There are concerns such a distinction could violate a law enacted last year that explicitly banned cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners by U.S. troops. Massimino, of Human Rights First, said that the new law, pressed by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., would ensure that any interrogation technique not included in the manual would be considered illegal. She said it also would help clear up any confusion troops may have had over what tactics are allowed


Hard labour for Abu Ghraib abuser

Sgt Santos Cardona

A US army dog handler convicted of using his dog to abuse an inmate at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison will not go to jail, a military court has decided.

Sgt Santos Cardona, 32, was instead sentenced to 90 days' hard labour by the panel. He will also be demoted and will have his pay docked.

He was found guilty on two out of nine charges of abuse and dereliction of duty at the prison near Baghdad.

He is the 11th US soldier convicted in connection with abuse at Abu Ghraib.

The US military panel at Fort Meade military base outside Washington cleared Cardona of seven other charges of abuse, including a more serious charge of allowing his dog to bite another prisoner.

Cardona, who had faced up to three-and-a-half years behind bars, will also have $7,200 (§’,800) docked from his wages over the next year.

It was not immediately clear what sort of hard labour he will have to do.

Cardona's lawyer civilian lawyer, Harvey Volzer, was clearly pleased with the sentence.

"It wasn't an acquittal but it was pretty darn good," the Associated Press quoted him as saying.

The prosecution said Cardona had used his Belgian shepherd dog like "a weapon" and had tormented Iraqi prisoners for fun.

But the defence said he was only obeying orders from senior officers.

No senior officers have so far been convicted for the abuse at Abu Ghraib.


Abu Ghraib dog handler convicted

Sgt Santos Cardona at a pre-trial hearing in Washington

A US Army dog handler has been convicted of abusing prisoners with his dog at Iraq's Abu Ghraib jail.

Sgt Santos Cardona, 32, was found guilty on two of nine charges of abuse and dereliction of duty at the prison, near Baghdad, in 2003 and 2004.

Cardona now faces up to three-and-a-half years in jail.

The military policeman is the 11th American soldier to be convicted in connection with abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib jail.

'Biggest mistake'

As well as his jail term, Cardona could also be discharged from the army or have his rank reduced.

Picture from SBS TV in Australia, showing dog and Abu Ghraib prisoner

A US military jury cleared Cardona of seven other charges of at a trial at Fort Meade in Maryland, in a court martial which began on Tuesday.

President George W Bush last week called the incident the biggest mistake of America's war in Iraq.

The prosecution had described Cardona as one of a group of "corrupt cops" who tormented Iraqi prisoners for fun.

But the defence argued the accused was only obeying orders from senior officers.

The conviction follows the March jailing of US army dog handler Sgt Michael Smith, who received six months for abusing detainees in Abu Ghraib from 2003 to 2004.

The Abu Ghraib scandal came to light in 2004, after photographs showing the abuse and sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners were leaked to the US press.

Some had shown unmuzzled dogs threatening naked prisoners.

No senior officers have so far been convicted for the abuse at the prison.

Cardona's verdict comes as the US investigates the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians last November at Haditha. US marines are suspected of carrying out a massacre.


Abu Ghraib accused was 'corrupt'

Sgt Santos Cardona at a pre-trial hearing in Washington

A court has heard opening statements in the trial of a US Army dog handler accused of abusing inmates at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison in 2003 and 2004.

Sgt Santos Cardona, 32, faces several charges including dereliction of duty, conspiracy and assault for allowing his dog to intimidate two detainees.

A military prosecutor said Sgt Cardona was one of a group of "corrupt cops" who tormented Iraqi prisoners for fun.

But the defence told the court Sgt Cardona was obeying senior officers.

Prosecutor Maj Matthew Miller told the court at Fort Meade, Maryland, that Sgt Santos served on the same shift as Charles Graner and Ivan Frederick, both jailed for their roles in the prisoner abuse scandal.

Maj Miller said the guards would shackle detainees and let dogs snarl and bark in their faces.

"It was done for nothing more than the entertainment of corrupt cops serving on the night shift," he said.

Sgt Cardona allowed his dog to bite an inmate and took part in a contest with another guard to see who could make the most prisoners urinate out of fear, Maj Miller told the court.

'Conflicting rules'

But defence lawyer Harvey Volzer said Sgt Cardona was following orders.

"He obeyed the law, he obeyed his superior NCOs (non-commissioned officers) and he obeyed his superior officers," he said.

He told the court Sgt Cardona was a victim of an ambiguous chain of command. "You have multiple military intelligence components and civilian intelligence components," he said. "You have conflicting rules."

On Monday, seven-member jury was selected for the court martial, but further proceedings were suspended when a witness failed to appear.

The trial is expected to hear testimony from the highest ranking officer ever to take the stand in any of the prosecutions arising from the abuse at Abu Ghraib.

A senior army officer, Maj Gen Geoffrey Miller, has been ordered to testify on US interrogation policies.

A total of 10 US soldiers have already been found guilty of abuses at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison.

If convicted, Sgt Cardona could face up to 16 years in jail.




Abu Ghraib dog handler on trial

Sgt Santos Cardona (r) with one of his lawyers A US Army dog handler accused of abusing inmates at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison in 2003 and 2004 has gone on trial at a military court in Maryland.

Sgt Santos Cardona, 32, faces several charges including dereliction of duty, conspiracy and assault for allowing his dog to intimidate two detainees.

His defence team is expected to argue that his use of the dog was condoned.

A seven-member jury was selected, but further proceedings were temporarily halted when a witness failed to appear.

The witness, Megan Ambuhl Graner, is a former Abu Ghraib guard who pleaded guilty in November 2004 to failing to prevent or report maltreatment of prisoners.

She is married to Charles Graner, currently serving a 10-year prison sentence as the ringleader of the group of soldiers who abused prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

Mrs Graner had not answered a subpoena to appear before the court, a prosecution lawyer said. The prosecution would seek a federal court writ to secure her appearance, he said.

Senior officer

The court is expected to hear testimony from the highest ranking officer ever to take the stand in any of the prosecutions arising from the abuse at Abu Ghraib.

A senior army officer, Maj Gen Geoffrey Miller, has been ordered to testify on US interrogation policies.

Sgt Cardona's lawyers say they will press him for information about a trip he made to Iraq to advise US officials on how to get better intelligence from detainees.

They say that shortly after his trip, military dogs were shipped to Abu Ghraib and approved for use in interrogations.

The prosecution, however, say there is no evidence to suggest that orders came to use dogs in this way.

The trial is taking place at Fort Meade military base. If convicted, Sgt Cardona could face up to 16 years in jail.

Of the two detainees Sgt Cardona is accused of intimidating with a dog, one was an Iraqi general, the other was believed to be an al-Qaeda operative.

A total of 10 US soldiers have already been found guilty of abuses at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison.


U.N.: Gitmo violates world torture ban

Washington dismisses 'skewed' report

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(CNN) -- The United States should close its jail at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and any secret prisons it may be running, a U.N. panel said Friday.

"The state party should cease to detain any person at Guantanamo Bay and close this detention facility, permit access by the detainees to judicial process or release them as soon as possible," the U.N. Committee Against Torture said in an 11-page report issued in Geneva, Switzerland.

The report concluded that detention of suspects without charges being filed runs counter to established human rights law and that the war on terrorism does not constitute an armed conflict under international law.

The U.S. dismissed the report, calling it "skewed."

John Bellinger, the State Department's legal adviser who led the U.S. delegations at the panel hearings earlier this month in Geneva, called the detention charge "legally inaccurate."

"This is an issue that we know is out there, but there is nothing in this convention that says anything about holding people, so it's outside of the scope for them to be calling for the closure of Guantanamo," he said.

The United States has defended its use of the Guantanamo facility to hold "enemy combatants" without charges during the war on terrorism after the September 11, 2001, attacks. About 500 detainees are thought to be held there.

Bellinger told reporters at a briefing Friday that the report ignored the extensive presentation and materials the United States shared with the committee.

"We are disappointed that, despite the fact that the committee acknowledges the extensive materials that we gave to them, that they don't seem to have relied on the information that we gave to them in preparing their report," Bellinger said. "And so as a result there are numerous errors of fact, just simply things that they've got wrong about what the U.S. law or practice is in there."

The White House said Friday that President Bush has indicated he would like to shut down the Guantanamo facility but was awaiting a Supreme Court ruling on whether detainees can face military tribunals, according to The Associated Press.

"It is important to note that everything that is done in terms of questioning detainees is fully within the boundaries of American law," the AP quoted White House spokesman Tony Snow as saying.

Snow also told the AP that the United States ensures detainees have food, clothing and other basic necessities, and gives them the chance to worship.

"In short," Snow told the AP, "we are according every consideration consistent with not only the law but the needs of safety and security at Guantanamo to the people who are there."

The report also suggested that the United States is operating "secret prisons" and called on Washington to close any "it may be running." It said U.S. interrogators should stop using "water boarding" and other questioning techniques that amount to torture.

American officials reportedly have acknowledged using water boarding as one of the more extreme techniques to elicit information from suspects.

The technique involves strapping down interrogation subjects and dunking them in water or otherwise making them feel that they may be drowning, though they are not.

The committee also took aim at the United States for using dogs to induce fear and methods involving sexual humiliation -- both documented in unofficial photographs taken at the Abu Ghraib facility in Iraq. Several of the individuals involved in those cases have been prosecuted.

It urged an end to any methods that amounted to torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

There have been about 800 investigations into allegations of mistreatment in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. delegation said, according to the AP. The Department of Defense found misconduct and took action against more than 250 service personnel; there have been 103 courts-martial and 89 service members were convicted, of whom 19 received sentences of one year or more, the AP reported.


Bush would like end to Guantanamo

File picture of detainee at Guantanamo Bay

US President George W Bush has said he would like to "end" the detention centre in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

But in an interview on German TV he says he must wait for a Supreme Court ruling on whether inmates could be tried by military or civilian courts.

Around 490 detainees are in Guantanamo Bay, which opened in January 2002.

There has been international criticism of conditions at the US camp and the length of time detainees have been held there without trial.

Rights groups have said the detainees, held on suspicion of involvement in terrorism, are mistreated through cruel interrogation methods - a charge the US denies.

Detainee list

"We're at war with an enemy. And obviously we've got to protect ourselves," said Mr Bush.

"I would very much like to end Guanatanamo," he went on.

"I would very much like to get people to a court."

The Supreme Court is expected to decide in June whether military tribunals can hear the cases of the detainees.

White House National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones said Mr Bush was repeating a long-held policy that the US "has no intention of permanently detaining individuals".

"We want to see all these individuals brought to justice," Mr Jones said.

The US last month released its most comprehensive list yet of those held in Guantanamo Bay.

Many of those named had been held at the camp for more than four years.


UN to quiz Washington on torture

Detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2002

The US is due to appear before the UN Committee on Torture for the first time since launching its war on terror after the 11 September 2001 attacks.

Thirty senior officials from the departments of state, defence, justice and homeland security will testify in public at the hearing in Geneva.

They are likely to face tough questions about practices used in the anti-terror drive, correspondents say.

Rights groups accuse the US of flouting the UN Convention against Torture.

They accuse the US of allowing the torture and inhumane treatment of foreign terror suspects at their detention centres in Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere.

'Huge significance'

This is the first time since 2000 that the US has testified publicly before the committee, which, as a signatory to the UN Convention against Torture, it is required to do.

Ten legal experts will cross-examine the US team, led by state department legal adviser John Bellinger in public hearings that are due to continue until Monday.

The hearings have huge significance, says Jennifer Daskal of Human Rights Watch.

"What makes this so remarkable is that this is the first time the United States is accountable for its record on torture with regard to some of the practices implemented after 9/11," she said.

Names and numbers

The committee will want to know about alleged CIA secret prisons and the prisoners no-one has access to, the BBC's Imogen Foulkes in Geneva says.

According to a UN document, the committee will demand to know the number and nationalities of those being held.

It will also ask for details of those taken abroad to third countries, in a process known as extraordinary rendition.

They may ask about the precise measures the US has taken in the wake of the abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison to ensure it does not happen again.

More awkward still, they may want to know if there has been an independent inquiry into the possibility that high-ranking government officials authorised torture, our correspondent adds.

The US has insisted it is "unequivocally opposed" to torture and remains committed to the UN ban.

The UN committee does not have formal powers and cannot impose sanctions, but signatories are expected to act on the recommendations it will publish following the hearings.


US charges ex-Abu Ghraib officer

Abu Ghraib prison

The US military has charged the former head of the interrogation centre at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison over the abuse of Iraqi detainees.

Lt-Col Steven Jordan has been charged with seven offences including maltreatment of prisoners.

He is the highest ranking officer to face criminal charges over events at the prison.

Ten lower-ranking soldiers have already been convicted for abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib from 2003 to 2004.

Two officers more senior than Lt-Col Jordan have been disciplined by the army over the scandal, but neither faced criminal charges.

Failure to supervise

Lt-Col Jordan was in charge of the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Centre at the prison during the second half of 2003.

A document released by the military detailed 12 counts relating to the seven separate charges.

It says Lt-Col Jordan maltreated prisoners by subjecting them "to forced nudity and intimidation by military working dogs".

It also accuses him of dereliction of duty in failing to train and supervise soldiers to meet military requirements on interrogation, which "resulted in the abuse of Iraqi detainees".

Other charges include wrongful interference with an investigation and making false official statements to investigators probing the abuse allegations.

A preliminary hearing will be held when Lt-Col Jordan's defence team have had time to prepare, but no date has been set yet, the US military said.

Picture from SBS TV in Australia showing dog and Abu Ghraib prisoner

The issue of Abu Ghraib came to light in April 2004 after images emerged of US troops abusing prisoners. The footage included naked prisoners placed in humiliating positions and detainees cowering from aggressive dogs.

The BBC's Jonathan Beale says while human rights groups have welcomed the decision to prosecute a senior officer, they see this as just a first step.

There is still anger that no-one in the administration has taken responsibility for the abuses, our correspondent says.


Report: Detainee abuse claims not investigated in full

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- More than two years after the Abu Ghraib scandal, a report by human rights activists accuses U.S. authorities of failing to adequately investigate claims of detainee abuse at U.S. jails in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Researchers tracked more than 330 accusations of detainee abuse and torture since 2001, which implicated more than 600 U.S. military and civilian personnel and involved more than 460 detainees.

Only about half of the cases appear to have been adequately investigated, the report said.

"It has become clear that the problem of torture and other abuse by U.S. personnel abroad was far more pervasive than the Abu Ghraib photos revealed -- extending to numerous U.S. detention facilities in Afghanistan, Iraq, and at Guantanamo Bay, and including hundreds of incidents of abuse," said the report, titled "By The Numbers," from the Detainee Abuse and Accountability Project.

"An analysis of alleged abuse cases shows that promises of transparency, investigation, and appropriate punishment for those responsible remain unfulfilled," said the report -- which was carried out by New York University's Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, Human Rights Watch and Human Rights First.

"Authorities have failed to investigate many allegations, or have investigated them inadequately," the report said. "And numerous personnel implicated in abuse cases have not been prosecuted or punished."

In each case, the Iraqi government condemned the abuse and asked that steps be taken to keep it from reoccurring, the report said. "The project found that many abuses were never investigated, and investigations that did occur often closed prematurely, or stalled without resolution."

The report also contends that when military investigators identified possible suspects, commanders often chose to use "weak, nonjudicial disciplinary measures as punishment, instead of pursuing criminal courts-martial."

Most cases of courts-martial resulted in prison sentences of under a year, or punishments that did not involve jail time, such as discharges or reductions in rank, according to the report.

"We've seen a series of half-hearted investigations and slaps on the wrist," said Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. "The government seems more interested in managing the detainee abuse scandal than in addressing the underlying problems that caused it."

There also has been a lack of accountability up the chain of military command, the report says. Researchers found no cases in which an officer was held accountable for the abuses of subordinates under the military doctrine of command responsibility.

About 20 civilians, including CIA agents, have been referred to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution, but the department has "shown minimal initiative in moving forward in abuse cases. The Department of Justice has not indicted any CIA agents for abusing detainees; it has indicted only one civilian contractor," the report said.

Seven low-ranking guards and two military intelligence soldiers -- described by U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as "bad apples" -- were disciplined after the 2003 Abu Ghraib scandal. The photos -- which were leaked to the news media -- showed cases of torture and sexual humiliation, causing global condemnation.

In May 2005, President Bush demoted Army Reserve Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who was in charge of Abu Ghraib during the scandal, to colonel. A month earlier, Karpinski had been formally relieved of command of the 800th military police brigade.

Another officer, Col. Thomas Pappas, was reprimanded and fined.

The longest prison sentence -- 10 years -- was given to Army Cpl. Charles Graner, who is seen in many of the Abu Ghraib photos with his then-girlfriend, Pfc. Lynndie England, who was sentenced to three years in prison.

Staff Sgt. Ivan "Chip" Frederick, a U.S. Army reservist from Virginia, received an eight-year sentence.

The report recommended that:

  • Congress appoint an independent commission to review U.S. detention and interrogation policies and operations.
  • The secretary of defense and attorney general order prompt investigations of alleged detainee abuse.
  • The secretary of defense appoint a high-level, centralized prosecuting authority across all branches of the military to probe alleged abuse cases.
  • Congress require the military to certify that officer promotion candidates that require Senate confirmation are not implicated in any allegations of detainee abuse.

  • Army Officials to Pursue Charges Against Abu Ghraib Officer

    Army officials plan to pursue criminal charges against a military intelligence officer who was the second-in-charge of interrogation operations at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, his lawyer said today. The lawyer for Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan said that he has been notified that Army officials plan to approve a series of charges against his client by Friday, including allegations of dereliction of duty, conduct unbecoming an officer, lying to investigators and a separate fraud charge that is unrelated to the Abu Ghraib abuse.

    Jordan would be the highest-ranking Army officer tried in connection with the abuses at Abu Ghraib if the charges are approved and a preliminary investigation -- known as an Article 32 hearing -- finds that the case should be sent to court-martial. "We're thankful the decision has finally been made, and we look forward to finally reviewing the evidence and making some decisions," said the lawyer, Samuel Spitzberg.

    Maj. Wayne Marotto, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon, said today that the disposition of alleged offenses against Lt. Col. Jordan "are still under consideration by the chain of command," and Lt. Col. Shawn Jirik at the Military District of Washington said the charges are under review but have not been finalized.

    Jordan was the second-highest ranking military intelligence officer at the prison and worked under Col. Thomas M. Pappas, who took over the entire operation of the prison in late 2003 when top military officials wanted to get better intelligence out of detainees housed there. Investigators early on found inconsistencies in Jordan's statements after the abuse was discovered, but he was never accused of personally abusing detainees. Pappas is the highest-ranking officer to face punishment for actual abuses at the prison but he was not charged with crimes. He was reprimanded and fined $8,000 for once approving the use of dogs on a high-value detainee without properly seeking the permission of top officers in Baghdad. Pappas later received immunity to testify at courts-martial against the military police dog handlers whose animals were used to frighten other high-value detainees. Jordan has not been offered such an administrative punishment or an immunity arrangement.

    Seven low-ranking military police soldiers and a handful of other low-ranking soldiers have been prosecuted and found guilty of abuses at the prison. The longest sentence was given to Pvt. Charles Graner, who got 10 years in a military prison. In the first major inquiry into the abuses at Abu Ghraib in 2004, Army Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba concluded that Jordan, Pappas and two civilian contractors "were either directly or indirectly responsible for the abuses at Abu Ghraib" and faulted Jordan for failing to supervise his subordinates when he was the director of the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center at the facility. Taguba also believed Jordan lied to investigators about his true role at the facility.

    A later inquiry by a group of Army generals revealed that Jordan was sent to Abu Ghraib to run the interrogation center in September 2003 but had little experience with military intelligence and interrogations, having been a civil affairs officer for nearly a decade prior. That inquiry found Jordan responsible for not ensuring military intelligence and military police soldiers knew the proper limits in dealing with detainees and for failing to prevent "unauthorized nakedness" and "military working dog abuses" that arose one night in November when a detainee got a gun and shot at the soldiers.


    US releases more Guantanamo names

    File picture of detainees at Guantanamo Bay

    The United States has released the most comprehensive list yet of those held in Guantanamo Bay.

    A list released by the Pentagon on Wednesday contains the names of 558 men from 41 countries held at the detention camp in Cuba.

    The majority of those under detention are from Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Afghanistan, the list shows.

    The move came as a result of a Freedom of Information challenge by the Associated Press news agency.

    Tribunals process

    The release is the first official roster of Guantanamo detainees who appeared before tribunals to assess whether they should remain under detention.

    The hearings, which took place between July 2004 and January 2005, were held after the US Supreme Court ruled inmates had the right to contest their detention.

    According to the list, of the 558 who went through the process, 132 came from Saudi Arabia, 125 from Afghanistan and 107 from Yemen. There were more than 20 inmates from both Algeria and China.

    The list includes well-known names such as Australian David Hicks, captured in Afghanistan in 2001, who faces charges of conspiracy to commit terrorism.

    The presence of Saudi national Mohammed al-Qahtani, who officials say sought entry to the US to participate in the 11 September 2001 attacks, was also officially confirmed.

    Many of those named have been held at the camp for more than four years.

    Transparency

    On 3 March, the Pentagon released names of many of the Guantanamo detainees, also in response to a Freedom of Information request.

    However, the names did not appear as a simple list, but were included within 6,000 pages of tribunal transcripts posted on its website.

    Further documents were released in April in what a Pentagon spokesman called "an attempt to be transparent".

    The BBC's Sarah Morris in Washington says the release comes amid wide criticism of the almost total secrecy surrounding the detention centre.

    Around 490 detainees remain in Guantanamo Bay, which opened in January 2002.


    Gitmo detainees lose Supreme Court

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court rejected an appeal Monday from two Chinese Muslims who were mistakenly captured as enemy combatants more than four years ago and are still being held at the U.S. prison in Cuba.

    The men's plight has posed a dilemma for the Bush administration and courts. Previously, a federal judge said the detention of the ethnic Uighurs in Guantanamo Bay is unlawful, but that there was nothing federal courts could do.

    Lawyers for the two contend they should be released, something the Bush administration opposes, unless they can go to a country other than the United States.

    A year ago, the U.S. military decided that Abu Bakker Qassim and A'Del Abdu al-Hakim are not "enemy combatants" as first suspected after their 2001 arrests in Pakistan. They were captured and shipped to Guantanamo Bay along with hundreds of other suspected terrorists.

    The U.S. government has been unable to find a country willing to accept the two men, along with other Uighurs. They cannot be returned to China because they likely will be tortured or killed.

    President Bush meets with Chinese President Hu Jintao at the White House on Thursday.

    German officials are being pressed to take the men, according to a report over the weekend in a newspaper there.

    It would have taken an unusual intervention of the Supreme Court to deal with the case now.

    Lawyers for Qassim and al-Hakim filed a special appeal, asking justices to step in even while the case is pending before an appeals court. Arguments at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit are next month.

    Justices declined, without comment, to hear the case.

    Bush administration Supreme Court lawyer Paul Clement told justices that there were "substantial ongoing diplomatic efforts to transfer them to an appropriate country."

    Clement said that in the meantime, the men have had television, a stereo system, books and recreational opportunities: including soccer, volleyball and ping-pong.

    The detainees' lawyers painted a different picture, saying that hunger strikes and suicide attempts at Guantanamo Bay are becoming more common and that the men are isolated.

    "Guantanamo is at the precipice," Boston lawyer Sabin Willett wrote in the appeal. "Only prompt intervention by this court to vindicate its own mandate can prevent the rule of law itself from being drowned in this intensifying whirlpool of desperation."

    About 500 foreigners are being held at Guantanamo Bay. Lawyers for more than 300 of the men filed a brief in Monday's case, saying that Qassim and al-Hakim "are far from the only innocent non-combatants languishing at Guantanamo."

    Justices ruled two years ago that the detainees could use American courts to challenge their detentions. And the court this summer will rule on a case testing the goverment's plans to hold war-crimes trials at Guantanamo Bay.

    Qassim and al-Hakim were captured as they fled a Taliban military training camp where they were learning techniques they planned to use against the Chinese government. They are Uighurs, Turkic-speaking Muslims who have a language and culture distinct from the rest of China.


    Report: Rumsfeld allowed Guantanamo abuse

    WASHINGTON - U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld allowed an °»abusive and degrading°… interrogation of an al-Qaida detainee in 2002, an online magazine reported Friday, citing an Army document.

    In a report a Pentagon spokesman denounced as °»fiction,°… Salon quoted a December 2005 Army inspector general°«s report in which officers told of Rumsfeld°«s direct contact with the general overseeing the interrogation at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

    The report, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, comes amid a spate of calls by retired U.S. generals for the Pentagon chief to resign to take responsibility for U.S. military setbacks in Iraq.

    Rumsfeld spoke regularly to U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, a key player in the treatment of detainees in Iraq and Guantanamo, during the interrogation of Mohammed al-Kahtani, who is suspected to have been an intended Sept. 11 hijacker, Salon quoted the inspector general°«s report as saying.

    Kahtani, a Saudi national, suffered °»degrading and abusive°… treatment by soldiers who were following the interrogation plan Rumsfeld had approved, Salon reported, quoting the 391-page report.

    Over 54 days in late 2002, soldiers accused him of being a homosexual, and forced him to stand naked in front of a female interrogator, to wear women°«s underwear and to perform °»dog tricks°… on a leash, Salon reported.

    Kahtani was forced to undergo 18- to 20-hour interrogations during 48 of the 54 days, the magazine said.

    Salon cites Lt. Gen. Randall M. Schmidt, an Army investigator, as saying in a sworn statement to the inspector general that °»The secretary of defense is personally involved in the interrogation of one person.°… Rumsfeld had weekly contact with Miller, according to Salon.

    Schmidt is quoted under oath as saying he concluded that Rumsfeld did not specifically order the interrogation methods used on Kahtani, but that Rumsfeld°«s approval of broad policies permitted abuses to take place.

    Rumsfeld had approved 16 harsher interrogation tactics for use against Kahtani on Dec. 2, 2002, Salon reported. Strategies included the use of forced nudity and removing religious items. Rumsfeld has said publicly that none of these policies led to °»inhumane°… detainee treatment, Salon said.

    Pentagon cites reviews dismissing report
    Jeffrey Gordon, a Pentagon spokesman, dismissed the report°«s allegation that Rumsfeld or the agency condoned abuse.

    °»We°«ve gone over this countless times and yet some still choose to print fiction versus facts,°… he said by telephone.

    °»Twelve major reviews, to include one done by an independent panel, all confirm the Department of Defense did not have a policy that encouraged or condoned abuse. To suggest otherwise is simply false,°… he said.

    Schmidt, an Air Force fighter pilot, was quoted as telling the inspector general that he had concerns about the length and repetition of the harsh interrogation methods, which he likened to abuses later uncovered at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

    °»There were no limits,°… Schmidt is quoted as telling the inspector general in an August 2005 interview.

    The Pentagon has said Kahtani gave interrogators information on Osama bin Laden°«s health and methods of evading capture, and on al-Qaida°«s infiltration routes.

    Miller — who headed the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, helped shape detention practices at Abu Ghraib and later oversaw all detention operations in Iraq — in January invoked his right not to incriminate himself in the courts-martial of soldiers tried for Abu Ghraib abuses.


    Government Authenticates Photos From Abu Ghraib

    Nearly two years after graphic photographs of detainee abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq were published worldwide, the U.S. government yesterday for the first time authenticated 74 of the images as being part of the original compact disc that was turned over to Army investigators in January 2004.

    Responding to a federal court order as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in New York, Justice Department lawyers wrote in court papers that the previously published images "are identical" to those that investigators have used to look into abuse at the prison. Included among the images are such photos as Pvt. Lynndie R. England holding a leash attached to a naked detainee's neck, a detainee with female underwear placed on his head, detainees shackled to cell doors and beds in painful positions, and others piled in a naked pyramid. The iconic photograph of a detainee standing on a cardboard box, cloaked and hooded with wires coming from his hands, is also among the pictures.

    The government, however, did not authenticate numerous photographs of soldiers using dogs to intimidate detainees, though military prosecutors have used such images in open court while pursuing cases against the soldiers.

    Many of the photos, or representative samples of them, have been published in The Washington Post and on washingtonpost.com over the past two years. Salon.com, an Internet magazine, recently published the photographs on its Web site after obtaining what appeared to be the Army's compilation of abuse photos used to prosecute low-ranking soldiers. The government also authenticated three short video clips. The original disc was given to Army investigators by a soldier concerned by the abuse that he saw in photos.

    Avoiding an actual government release of the images, Justice Department lawyers instead authenticated photographs that were already up on the Salon Web site, using court papers to refer to the images by number. ACLU lawyers were also provided with one additional photograph -- which appears to be two detainees with their arms around each other and their faces edited out of the image -- and the government declined to provide an additional 29 photographs that ACLU lawyers said they are going to fight to see. None of the photographs the government authenticated indicates any unknown instances of abuse. Hundreds of other photos -- seized from soldiers' computers in Iraq -- appear to show abuse but have not been authenticated by U.S. officials.

    "Our aim was to get this information into the public domain, and the government's attempts at withholding this information have proved futile," said Amrit Singh, an ACLU lawyer pursuing the lawsuit. "This is a victory for us because information to which the public is entitled has been released into the public domain. The government has fought this tooth and nail."

    Defense Department officials, including top generals, have opposed releasing the images, arguing that they could set off major unrest in Muslim nations. The images a federal judge in New York ordered the government to release, it turns out, largely were the same images that already have been published.


    Suicidal Detainee's Condition A Mystery

    Lawyers for a suicidal detainee held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, believe that their client tried to kill himself again by slashing his throat sometime over the past few weeks but say U.S. government officials have refused to answer any questions about his condition. Jumah al-Dossari, a Bahraini national captured in 2001, has tried to take his own life at least 10 times in his four years at the U.S. detention facility, according to military officials. One of the attempts came during a visit by an attorney, who found him hanging from a noose in a bathroom with a deep gash in his arm.

    Dossari and his attorneys have said the attempts are a statement that the conditions and indefinite detention have left him desperate. The attorneys say other lawyers visiting clients at Guantanamo Bay in late March heard that Dossari had slit his throat and nearly died. Declassified notes obtained by Dossari attorney Joshua Colangelo-Bryan also record the suicide attempt. Despite weeks of trying to determine Dossari's condition, Colangelo-Bryan said yesterday, he has not heard from the Justice Department, which represents the Pentagon in detainee matters. A Justice spokesman referred questions to the Defense Department.

    "I'd like to know if he's alive," Colangelo-Bryan said. "I think it underscores the fact that the government does not believe that it has to play by any rules at all." Navy Cmdr. Robert Durand, a spokesman for Joint Task Force Guantanamo, said yesterday that there has been one suicide attempt at the facility so far this year -- on March 11 -- and that the detainee is "clinically stable." But Durand would not identify him.

    Apparently referring to Dossari, Durand noted that a single detainee accounts for 12 of the 39 suicide attempts at Guantanamo Bay since it opened in 2002. No detainee has died in custody there. Lawyers blame the Detainee Treatment Act, enacted a few months ago, for their lack of information about clients. The government has argued that the law severely limits access to federal courts for Guantanamo detainees, and hundreds of habeas corpus cases in U.S. courts have been held up while federal judges weigh the law's impact.

    Dossari, who speaks some English, has long claimed he is innocent and is being held improperly, though a military tribunal -- relying on classified evidence -- has determined he is an enemy combatant. According to recently released documents from Guantanamo Bay, government officials believe he was helping al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan in late 2001, shortly before he was arrested at the Pakistani border. Before his trip to Afghanistan, Dossari lived in the United States on a visa and was an imam at a mosque in Bloomington, Ind., according to military records. Federal agents allege that Dossari was recruiting for al-Qaeda and left shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

    The only charges levied by the military relate to his allegedly being a cook for enemy forces at Tora Bora in Afghanistan, where U.S. troops fought a fierce battle with al-Qaeda and the Taliban in 2001. Dossari denies being there or being an al-Qaeda member.


    US releases more Guantanamo files

    File picture of detainees at Guantanamo Bay

    The US defence department has released a second batch of documents relating to detainees being held in Guantanamo Bay.

    "It is an attempt to be transparent," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said of the publication of transcripts of tribunals held at the camp in Cuba.

    The tribunals were held last year to determine who should remain in prison.

    The move follows the publication last month of 5,000 transcript pages, in response to a court order, which showed detainees' names for the first time.

    The Pentagon says 490 people are being held at the detention facility, which opened in January 2002.

    Only 10 have been charged with a crime.

    Claims of innocence

    The US released over 2,500 pages relating to tribunal hearings held each year to see if any prisoners are eligible for transfer or release.

    The Pentagon spokesman insisted the detainees posed a threat to US security and that interrogating them had garnered valuable intelligence for the war on terror.

    "[The detainees] are terrorist trainers, they're bomb-makers, they're people that worked directly for Osama bin Laden, they're would-be suicide bombers. And we know that they're trained to lie to try to gain sympathy for their condition and to bring pressure upon the US government," Mr Whitman told Reuters news agency.

    However, in the transcripts many detainees, sometimes named, sometimes not, state their innocence.

    "I have nothing to tell, I am a normal person who works in agriculture. I have never killed anybody," said one Yemeni prisoner, who told the tribunal he grew potatoes, tomatoes, onions and raisins.

    Another detainee was quizzed about possessing a brand of watch which US officials said was linked to al-Qaeda bombings.

    "All I know about the watch is that it is a Casio... I know it has a compass. When we pray we have to face Mecca," Sabri Mohammed Ebrahim replied.

    Human rights groups have welcomed the new information, but complain that much remains hidden.

    "There are still vast numbers of documents that are concealed and hidden and declared to be secret and confidential," Bill Goodman, legal director for the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents numerous detainees, said.


    U.N. expert wants access to allegedly secret CIA prisons

    GENEVA — The United Nations' special investigator on torture said Thursday he was certain that there are secret U.S. prisons in Europe and he wants access to them. Manfred Nowak said he had proof that secret U.S. prisons continue to operate in Europe. "I am 100% sure. I have evidence," Nowak said in an interview with The Associated Press. He cited a U.S. refusal to provide details or records of interrogations later used in terrorism trials in Germany. He did not explain how that was proof of the ongoing existence of U.S. prisons in Europe, and he did not offer other examples.

    Allegations of clandestine U.S. detention centers in Europe have sparked separate investigations by the European Parliament and the Council of Europe, the continent's leading human rights watchdog. "It is totally unacceptable, even in the fight against terrorism, that a highly democratic country such as the United States of America is keeping secret places of detention," said Nowak, an Austrian law professor who reports on torture allegations to U.N. rights bodies and the General Assembly.

    U.S. officials in Geneva were not immediately available to comment. The United States neither confirms nor denies the allegations of secret prisons, because it refuses to comment on intelligence matters. It has noted that the Council of Europe's report found no specific evidence to support claims of the existence of detention camps in Europe like the one in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

    In a report released last month, Nowak and four other U.N. experts called on the U.S. government to close down Guantanamo Bay and "refrain from any practice amounting to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment." The United States slammed the U.N. report, noting that the U.N. experts had declined an invitation to visit the camp because they would not be given full access to the detainees.

    As with Guantanamo, Nowak said he would only visit the secret prisons if he was granted full access to prisoners. He noted that Beijing had allowed him to interview prisoners during a visit to China last year and that before that trip Washington pressured the Chinese to permit the interviews.

    He said that he hoped Washington would reconsider its policy on terror suspects and allow him to investigate allegations of torture in detention centers outside the United States. "How can I assess whether torture or ill-treatment is practiced in any prison in the world if the only people with whom I can talk are the prison guards and the doctors, but not the detainees?" he asked.

    The United States is holding about 490 men at the military detention center; some have been there for more than four years. They are accused of links to Afghanistan's ousted Taliban regime or to al-Qaeda, but only a handful have been charged.

    Nowak also said that he would go to Chechnya this year because Russia had accepted his condition of direct access to prisoners. He declined to speculate on how widespread the use of torture by Russian security forces might be in the volatile southern province, and said he was still negotiating with Moscow on which detention centers to visit.


    Report: Scalia calls Europe 'hypocritical' on Gitmo

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Justice Antonin Scalia reportedly told an overseas audience this month that the U.S. Constitution does not protect foreigners held at America's military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  Scalia told an audience member: "... they were shooting at my son, and I'm not about to give this man who was captured in a war a full jury trial."

    Scalia also told the audience at the University of Freiberg in Switzerland that he was "astounded" at the "hypocritical" reaction in Europe to the prison, said this week's issue of Newsweek magazine.

    The comments came just weeks before justices were to take up an appeal from a detainee at Guantanamo Bay.

    Justices will hear arguments Tuesday on Salim Ahmed Hamdan's claim that President Bush has overstepped his constitutional authority in ordering a military trial for the former driver of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, held at the prison for nearly four years.

    Two years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that the detainees could use U.S. courts to challenge their detention. Scalia disagreed with that ruling, and in the recent speech repeated his beliefs that enemy combatants have no legal rights.

    "War is war, and it has never been the case that when you captured a combatant you have to give them a jury trial in your civil courts," Newsweek quoted Scalia as saying in the speech. "Give me a break."

    Scalia's dissent in the Rasul v. Bush case in 2004 said:

    "The consequence of this holding, as applied to aliens outside the country, is breathtaking. It permits an alien captured in a foreign theater of active combat to bring a petition against the secretary of defense. ... Each detainee (at Guantanamo) undoubtedly has complaints — real or contrived — about those terms and circumstances. ... From this point forward, federal courts will entertain petitions from these prisoners, and others like them around the world, challenging actions and events far away, and forcing the courts to oversee one aspect of the executive's conduct of a foreign war."

    Newsweek said Scalia was challenged by an audience member in Switzerland about whether Guantanamo detainees have protection under the Geneva or human rights conventions. He shot back: "If he was captured by my army on a battlefield, that is where he belongs. I had a son on that battlefield and they were shooting at my son, and I'm not about to give this man who was captured in a war a full jury trial. I mean it's crazy," Newsweek said.

    Scalia's son Matthew, served in Iraq.


    Court Case Challenges Power of President Military Tribunals' Legitimacy at Issue

    Seized by U.S. forces in Afghanistan and imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Osama bin Laden's former chauffeur is now seeking victory over President Bush in a new arena: the Supreme Court. In oral arguments Tuesday, an attorney for Salim Ahmed Hamdan will ask the justices to declare unconstitutional the U.S. military commission that plans to try him for conspiring with his former boss to carry out terrorist attacks.

    Significant as that demand is, its potential impact is much wider, making Hamdan's case one of the most important of Bush's presidency. It is a challenge to the broad vision of presidential power that Bush has asserted since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. In blunt terms, Hamdan's brief calls on the court to stop "this unprecedented arrogation of power." Just as urgently, the administration's brief urges the court not to second-guess the decisions of the commander in chief while "the armed conflict against al Qaeda remains ongoing." The case may not produce a frontal clash between the judiciary and the executive -- if the court decides that a recently enacted federal law on military commissions deprives it of jurisdiction to rule on Hamdan's case. Yet another possibility is that the court could reach an inconclusive 4 to 4 tie because Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. had ruled on the case while he was on a federal appeals court and must sit out now.

    But if the court fears to tread on such difficult ground, it has given no sign of that. It has refused the administration's invitation to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction before hearing arguments, and, perhaps more important, it has already refused to defer completely to the president in two previous terrorism-related cases. "There are so many issues in the case -- whether the president was authorized by the Constitution, or a statute, to set up the commissions -- right down to exactly how to fit this kind of a war into the existing laws of war," said Richard Lazarus, a law professor at Georgetown University who specializes in Supreme Court litigation. "Most cases have two or three or four issues. This one has 10 or 12, which makes it very hard to handicap."

    Whether designating an American citizen as an "enemy combatant" subject to military confinement, denying coverage under the Geneva Conventions to detainees at Guantanamo Bay, or using the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on domestic communications, Bush has said that the Constitution and a broadly worded congressional resolution passed three days after Sept. 11, 2001, empower him to wage war against terrorists all but unencumbered by judicial review, congressional oversight or international law. Those assertions emerged in Bush's Military Order No. 1 of Nov. 13, 2001, which established the commissions and set off one of the first political debates in the United States over terrorism after two months of relative unity after the attacks.

    The administration wanted a tough-minded alternative to the civilian court system that the Clinton administration had used against terrorists. Yet the swift and certain punishment that supporters of the commissions expected has not materialized. Though 10 of the 490 terrorism suspects currently held at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay have been designated for trial, not a single case has been decided.

    From the outset, the commissions have been plagued by questions about their fairness and workability. Critics argued that the commissions were flawed because, as Hamdan's brief, written by Georgetown University law professor Neal K. Katyal, puts it, they would try suspects "for crimes defined by the President alone, under procedures lacking basic protections, before 'judges' who are his chosen subordinates."

    After lengthy internal debates, the administration modified the commissions, requiring that trials be public and that defendants be presumed innocent until proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. But that did not persuade critics who pointed out that the executive branch would still be the only one deciding who is an "unlawful enemy combatant" eligible for trial in the first place.

    Critics also argue that the Geneva Conventions require that each detainee should be given an individual hearing, with access to the federal courts through habeas corpus. Historically, the courts have been reluctant to take on presidents during wartime. As a result, Lazarus said, Hamdan's supporters "need to make it clear there is a reason not to trust" Bush with unchecked power. That reason, Lazarus noted, may come from the allegations of torture at Guantanamo Bay and at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, which surfaced in 2004 and are discussed extensively in briefs on Hamdan's side. Several members of the court are especially sensitive to international opinion, which has generally seen Guantanamo as a symbol of U.S. excesses in the war against al-Qaeda. The court has been bombarded by friend-of-the-court briefs urging it to think about the impact of the Hamdan case on the image of the United States abroad.

    Two years ago, the Supreme Court ruled 6 to 3 that federal law gave U.S. courts the power to hear the prisoners' challenges to their detention at Guantanamo Bay. In a separate case involving an American citizen held there, a plurality of justices noted that the court would not give the president "a blank check" on national security matters. That triggered a flood of habeas corpus petitions, including Hamdan's, from lawyers representing hundreds of Guantanamo Bay prisoners.

    Hamdan's attorneys say that neither the broadly worded Sept. 14, 2001, House-Senate resolution that endorsed the use of force against al-Qaeda nor older statutes give Bush the clear legislative approval he needs to set up the commissions. They also contend that the commissions violate the Geneva Conventions, which, they say, are enforceable by U.S. courts and entitle Hamdan to the same kind of trial a U.S. soldier would get from a court-martial.

    The rules of the tribunals, which allow evidence that "would . . . have probative value to a reasonable person," provide no guarantee against the use of evidence gathered through torture, Hamdan's supporters say. In response, the Bush administration notes that military commissions have a long history in war and were contemplated by the Sept. 14, 2001, resolution.

    But the administration's brief, written by Solicitor General Paul D. Clement, also says that "even if Congress's support for the President's Military Order were not so clear, the President has the inherent authority to convene military commissions to try and punish captured enemy combatants in wartime -- even in the absence of any statutory authorization." As for the Geneva Conventions, they are not enforceable by U.S. courts and do not apply to Hamdan because al-Qaeda is a terrorist network that has not signed the conventions and regularly violates them, the administration says.

    So far, the administration has prevailed. Last year, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, one of whose members was Roberts, upheld the administration's position, overruling a decision in Hamdan's favor by the U.S. District Court in Washington. After the Supreme Court agreed to hear Hamdan's appeal of the D.C. Circuit's ruling, Congress stepped in.

    The Detainee Treatment Act (DTA), enacted in December, reinforces the president's authority under the Sept. 14 resolution, the administration says. By modifying the rules related to the commissions, the measure implicitly accepts their legitimacy, the administration says.

    The DTA stripped federal courts of jurisdiction over habeas corpus petitions from the Guantanamo Bay detainees "pending on or after" the date of its enactment -- and it provides an alternative military process for reviewing their enemy combatant status, to be followed by appeals to the D.C. Circuit court. Under the law, that court is the exclusive venue for appeals of military commission verdicts.

    On Jan. 12, the administration asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the Hamdan case, arguing that it is covered by the "pending on or after" phrase. The proper time for his constitutional challenge is after his trial, the administration argued. But Hamdan's attorneys contend that the DTA was a compromise intended to apply only to new cases, not to those that had already been filed. At a minimum, it does not provide a clear enough statement of congressional intent to deny Hamdan and others a day in court, they say.


    Officer Says He Wrongly Approved Use of Dogs

    Tactic Employed At Abu Ghraib

    The top U.S. military intelligence officer at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq testified yesterday that he inappropriately approved the use of dogs for interrogations without consulting higher-ranking officers, accepting responsibility for giving his subordinates an aggressive tool that was used to terrify detainees.

    Col. Thomas M. Pappas, speaking publicly for the first time since the abuse at Abu Ghraib was revealed two years ago, told a military court-martial that in December 2003 he signed off on using dogs on one "high-value" detainee who was not responding to standard interrogation tactics. He said a series of interrogation memos from Baghdad that listed dogs as an option led him to believe he did not need to seek approval from Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, then the top general in Iraq.

    Army Sgt. Michael J. Smith and one of his lawyers, Capt. Mary G. McCarthy, are shown listening to Col. Thomas M. Pappas during Smith's court-martial.

    "I wouldn't say that I was confused, but later on it turned out that I was wrong," Pappas said in a low voice, looking out over a small military courtroom at Fort Meade, Md. "I misinterpreted the language."

    Pappas -- who was testifying at the trial of a military police dog handler accused of abuse at the prison -- is the highest-ranking officer to take responsibility for misconduct there.

    The abuse in late 2003 and early 2004 included soldiers putting detainees in painful stress positions, keeping them naked and sexually humiliating them. The dispute between the military and the accused is whether the actions were the work of a few bad soldiers or whether they were part of a system of aggressive tactics sanctioned by the highest levels of government.

    Although Pappas has long been considered a potential link between use of the aggressive tactic and authorizations from superiors in Baghdad and Washington, he instead told jurors he proceeded without clearance in telling one of his interrogators he could bring dogs into an interrogation booth to scare a detainee.

    But Pappas was quick to acknowledge that he did not ensure that military intelligence and military police soldiers were trained in using the technique, that he failed to put proper control measures in place, and that he did not follow up with interrogators to see how the approach was being applied. Pappas said that he ordered the use of dogs in interrogation booths only if they were muzzled and that he was unaware that military intelligence soldiers were using unmuzzled dogs outside of the booths.

    Attorneys for Sgt. Michael J. Smith called Pappas to testify in an attempt to show that top officials at the prison ordered interrogators to use dogs without explaining the rules to military police dog handlers, who were not trained in the procedure. The lawyers have said that Smith, 24, and his black Belgian shepherd were used as a tool to frighten high-value detainees into talking, while prosecutors have likened Smith to "rogue" MPs who photographed themselves stacking naked detainees in a pyramid and have been sentenced to prison for abuse.

    Smith's case has highlighted the fact that dogs were approved for use at Abu Ghraib, and testimony has suggested that at least one civilian contract interrogator was urging the use of dogs at night to break down certain uncooperative detainees. Evidence has shown that one detainee whom Smith allegedly abused -- Ashraf Abdullah Ahsy al-Juhayshi -- was a suspected al-Qaeda operative and the subject of a "special project team" that some at the prison believed had authority to use severe tactics.

    Interrogator notes presented to the seven-member jury yesterday appeared to show that Pappas and a senior interrogator approved the use of dogs for the detainee. But Pappas said he had "no explanation" for why his name appeared on the documents.

    For his error, Pappas accepted an administrative punishment, which included being relieved of command and fined $8,000. He testified under the protection of immunity.

    According to testimony this week, there is scant evidence that Smith's dog did more than bark or growl at detainees at close range -- a tactic that his defense team says exemplifies the point of having dogs at a prison in the first place, which is to keep detainees under control. Smith is accused of using his dog to threaten at least three detainees, and prosecutors have said that he and another dog handler -- Sgt. Santos A. Cardona, whose trial is scheduled to begin in May -- were trying to get detainees to urinate and defecate on themselves.

    Capt. Jason Duncan, one of Smith's attorneys, said in an opening statement Monday that Smith and his dog were simply doing their jobs at the prison: "The dogs were there to bark at detainees, they were there to scare them."

    In two hours on the witness stand yesterday, Pappas testified that he had learned that military working dogs were an effective interrogation tool from a team of intelligence officials visiting Iraq in September 2003 from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, adding that there was discussion with Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller and his entourage about the "Arab fear of dogs" being a reason to use the animals to "set the conditions" for interrogations.

    But prosecutors quickly turned Pappas's testimony against Smith. Maj. Matthew Miller got Pappas to say that he was unaware dogs had been used more than once at the prison and that any use of an unmuzzled dog during an interrogation would have been "illegal."

    Still, Pappas said it is possible that the MPs did not know the rules.

    "In hindsight, clearly we needed to establish some definitive rules and put out clear guidance to everyone concerned," he said.


    US military to leave Abu Ghraib

    Abu Ghraib photo

    The US military in Iraq says it plans to transfer detention operations in Baghdad away from Abu Ghraib Prison.

    A new detention facility is being constructed at a site known as Camp Cropper, near Baghdad's international airport, a US spokesman says.

    The name of Abu Ghraib prison was synonymous with torture and cruelty under the regime of Saddam Hussein.

    Since his fall, the US army has run the prison - which was the scene of abuse by American troops.

    Photographs of what took place there in 2003 at the hands of a group of poorly-trained, poorly-disciplined soldiers shocked the US and the world.

    Notorious

    Plans to end detention operations at Abu Ghraib had been in the works for a while, the spokesman said.

    Prisoners at Iraq's Abu Ghraib jail in October 2005

    He added that the detainees held by the US military would be transferred to Camp Cropper when construction was complete.

    It is anticipated that that will happen in the coming months.

    The US military, he said, would then hand over Abu Ghraib prison to the Iraqi ministry of justice. It currently holds just over 4,500 detainees.

    Among them are common criminals and those suspected of involvement in Iraq's insurgency.

    The US military will doubtless be glad to be rid of this old and notorious prison.


    Amnesty says Iraq abuses continue

    Prisoners at Iraq's Abu Ghraib jail in October 2005

    Amnesty International has said that thousands of detainees held by the multinational forces in Iraq are still being denied their basic rights.

    The group said the lessons of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal appeared to have been ignored and reports of torture continued to "pour out of Iraq".

    It said it based its findings on interviews with former inmates.

    US and British officials insist that prisoners are treated in accordance with international standards.

    The report says the multinational forces and Iraqi authorities must take urgent steps to stop human rights abuses if there is to be any hope of halting Iraq's slide towards increasing violence and sectarianism.

    Amnesty says in its 48-page report that thousands of Iraqis are being held without charge or trial.

    More than 200 detainees have been imprisoned for more than two years and nearly 4,000 for over a year, it reports.

    "To hold this huge number of people without basic legal safeguards is a gross dereliction of responsibility on the part of both the US and UK forces," said its UK director, Kate Allen.

    'Chilling signs'

    The report mentions the case of one detainee, Kamal Muhammad, a 43-year-old father of 11 held without charge by US forces for over two years.

    "His brother reports that he has received insufficient food and has lost some 20 kilos in weight in prison," Amnesty says.

    Other prisoners were released "without explanation or apology or reparation after months in detention".

    There has also been increasing evidence of torture of detainees by the Iraqi security forces, despite various scandals and promises of investigation and proper treatment.

    Former detainees told Amnesty they had been beaten with plastic cables, given electric shocks and made to stand in a flooded room as an electrical current was passed through the water.

    Ms Allen compared the current situation to the earlier scandal which broke when photos were released showing US guards abusing detainees at the Baghdad prison.

    "There are chilling signs that the lessons of Abu Ghraib have not been learnt," she said.

    "Not only prisoners being held in defiance of international law but the allegations of torture continue to pour out of Iraq."

    Detentions defended

    According to the US military, each detainee is given a form explaining the reasons for their imprisonment and their files are reviewed every 90 to 120 days.

    The British Ministry of Defence said allegations of wrongdoing were always taken seriously and international observers were invited into its detention centres.

    It said that the Red Cross was informed of each detention within 24 hours and the detainee's family was also notified.

    Britain had "no interest in interning individuals in Iraq other than to protect Iraqi security personnel and civilians, and British servicemen and women, from attack", an MoD spokeswoman told The Associated Press.


    US jails 'shackle pregnant women'

    The US must stop shackling pregnant female prisoners when they are giving birth, Amnesty International has said.

    "The routine use of restraints on pregnant women... [is] a cruel and unusual practice that can rarely be justified," the group said in a report.

    Only one state currently bans leg irons on female inmates while they are being taken to hospital during labour.

    US government policy urges measures to ensure foetuses are not harmed if a pregnant prisoner is restrained.

    Though these are pregnant women, they are still convicted felons, and sometimes violent

    The New York Times described the case of one pregnant inmate whose legs were allegedly shackled together during 12 hours of labour, despite requests by a doctor and two nurses that she not be restrained.

    "The doctor who was delivering the baby made them remove the shackles for the actual delivery at the very end," lawyer Cathleen Compton told the newspaper.

    Shawanna Nelson had been jailed in Arkansas for identity fraud and writing bad cheques. She gave birth in 2003 at age 30, the newspaper said.

    She is suing the prison and Correctional Medical Services, claiming she suffers ongoing back pain and damage to her sciatic nerve because she was largely unable to move during her labour.

    The defendants deny having harmed Ms Nelson, the New York Times said, citing court papers.

    Arkansas defends its policy.

    "Though these are pregnant women, they are still convicted felons, and sometimes violent in nature," Dina Tyler, a spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department of Corrections, told the newspaper.

    "There have been instances when we've had a female inmate try to hurt hospital staff during delivery."

    Prosecution for rape

    Amnesty also called for new laws that would cut down on the sexual abuse of women in prison.

    "Statutes should bar sexual contact between staff and inmates and leave no room for exceptions," Amnesty said in Abuse of Women in Custody: Sexual Misconduct and Shackling of Pregnant Women.

    The human rights group carried out a survey of law and practice in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the US Bureau of Prisons.

    Each state makes its own regulations on how prisoners are treated in its correctional facilities.

    Amnesty found that not a single state had laws covering all six areas it considered essential for protecting prisoners from sexual misconduct.

    It recommendations include:

    • Forbidding sexual relations between inmates and prison staff. Six states do not have laws barring them

    • Banning all forms of sexual abuse, including threats

    • Ensuring that laws designed to prevent abuse apply to all staff and contractors working at all correctional facilities and locations

    • Making it impossible to hold an inmate criminally liable for engaging in sexual conduct. At least one state has laws under which a prisoner can be charged for being raped.

    It also proposes that female prisoners be guarded only by female officers and that pat-down searches of women be carried out only by women.

    Judge orders U.S. to release Guantanamo detainee data

    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — A federal judge ordered the Pentagon on Thursday to release the identities of hundreds of detainees at Guantanamo Bay to The Associated Press, a move which would force the government to break its secrecy and reveal the most comprehensive list yet of those who have been imprisoned there.

    Some of the hundreds of detainees in the war on terror being held at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have been held as long as four years. Only a handful have been officially identified.

    U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff in New York ordered the Defense Department to release uncensored transcripts of detainee hearings, which contain the names of detainees in custody and those who have been held and later released. Previously released documents have had identities and other details blacked out.

    The judge ordered the government to hand over the documents by March 3 after the Defense Department said Wednesday it would not appeal his earlier ruling in the lawsuit filed by the AP.

    On Jan. 23, Rakoff ordered the military to turn over uncensored copies of transcripts and other documents from 317 military hearings for detainees at the prison camp. There were another 241 detainees who refused to participate in the Combatant Status Review Tribunals and the Defense Department said no transcripts exist of those hearings.

    U.S. authorities now hold about 490 prisoners at Guantanamo on suspicion of links to al-Qaeda or the Taliban. Most have been held without charges since the detention center opened four years ago, prompting complaints from human rights groups and others.

    "AP has been fighting for this information since the fall of 2004," said Dave Tomlin, assistant general counsel for the news organization. "We're grateful to have a decision at last that keeping prisoner identities secret is against the public policy and the law of this country."

    The military has never officially released the names of any detainees except the 10 who have been charged.

    Most of those that are known emerged from the approximately 400 civil suits filed on behalf of prisoners by lawyers who got their names from family or other detainees, said Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, which represents about 200 detainees.

    "They have been very resistant to releasing the names," Ratner said. "There are still people there who don't have a lawyer and we don't know who they are. They have disappeared."

    The Defense Department earlier released transcripts after the AP filed suit under the Freedom of Information Act, but the names and other details of detainees were blacked out.

    The Defense Department said it would obey the judge's order.

    "DOD will be complying with the judge's decision in this matter," said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon, a Pentagon spokesman.

    Law experts said the case has wide-ranging implications.

    "The government has tried to maintain Guantanamo as a black hole since they opened it," said Jonathan Hafetz of the New York University School of Law. "This is bringing it within the mainstream of the justice system and says we're not going to have secret detentions at Guantanamo."

    In his ruling last month, Rakoff rejected government arguments that releasing the detainees' names from transcripts should be kept secret to protect their privacy and their families, friends and associates from embarrassment and retaliation.

    The judge had given the government a month to decide whether to appeal and the U.S. Solicitor General decided not to pursue the case further, said Megan Gaffney, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York.

    The AP is awaiting a decision from the judge on whether the government must release the unredacted transcripts from a second round of hearings, the annual Administrative Review Board — panels that decide whether detainees are still considered a threat to the United States.


    More images of abuse at Abu Ghraib

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    (CNN) -- More grisly photographs and videos have emerged that appear to show U.S. soldiers abusing prisoners at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, some of whom were apparently forced to engage in sex acts.

    The Australian television network SBS program "Dateline" broadcast the pictures and videos Wednesday night. One of the more graphic videos shows five men wearing hoods and masturbating for the camera, presumably under orders from their guards.

    The photos and videos reportedly date from 2003 -- the same time that previously released photographs of prisoner abuse were taken.

    Olivia Rousset, the SBS reporter on the story, said she came across the photographs while researching a story on guards at Abu Ghraib.

    "We hope that the release of these photographs will bring about further pressure to hold high-ranking officials accountable for what we now know to have been systemic and widespread abuse occurring throughout Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay," said American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Amrit Singh on "Dateline," adding that she had not seen the images.

    Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, said he thought the timing of the new report was "unnecessarily provocative" and "irresponsible." He said any photos from that time period "do not reflect what is happening at Abu Ghraib now."

    Interviewed before the photos and videos aired, Johnson said he hadn't seen the newly released images.

    Publication of the original set of pictures sparked widespread international condemnation of the United States.

    The newly released photographs appear to show more abuse, including cases of torture and sexual humiliation. They do not appear to show any new perpetrators.

    In September, after the ACLU won access to those set of pictures via a Freedom of Information Act request, the U.S. government appealed the decision, tying up their release.

    Mike Carey, executive producer of "Dateline," said on the SBS network's Web site that his program "obtained a file of hundreds of pictures, some that have been seen before and others that show new abuses."

    Some images too graphic to air

    The program did not show all of the pictures. It deemed some of them too graphic for air, Carey said.

    Among the images broadcast were pictures of naked men who appeared to have suffered physical trauma, one of whom the report said had 11 nonlethal bullet wounds in his buttocks.

    Other pictures show corpses, one of which the program said a U.S. Army report identified as one of three men killed during a riot over living conditions at the prison.

    According to the TV report, two Abu Ghraib soldiers said that guards were ordered to use lethal rounds on prisoners after they ran out of rubber bullets trying to halt the riot.

    One image depicts two women described by a guard to "Dateline" as prostitutes held at the prison for two days. In one picture, the breasts of one of the women are exposed.

    Another grisly image shows a corpse that appears to have had a section torn from its head, while another one features a man whose arms are covered in purple bruises.

    Also broadcast was video that appears to show a prisoner -- handcuffed to a metal door -- repeatedly slamming his head full force against the door. Though the guards appear to have videotaped the incident from several vantage points, no one is seen intervening to stop the prisoner.

    The network said the man allegedly had mental problems and frequently covered himself in feces, but he was not given any psychiatric care.

    The TV program obscured most of the prisoners' faces so they could not be identified.

    The release of the photographs follows the release of a 2004 videotape apparently showing British soldiers beating Iraqis. Three people have been arrested in that case, which was condemned by Prime Minister Tony Blair. (Full story)

    ACLU alleges orders came from brass

    When the original set of Abu Ghraib photographs was released nearly two years ago, members of Congress said they had received a private viewing of other, unreleased pictures.

    Seven low-ranking guards and two military intelligence soldiers -- described by U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as "bad apples" -- have been disciplined for offenses documented in the original pictures.

    Last May, President Bush demoted Army Reserve Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who was in charge of Abu Ghraib during the prison abuse scandal, to colonel. She had been formally relieved of command of the 800th military police brigade a month earlier.

    Another officer, Col. Thomas Pappas, was reprimanded and fined.

    The longest prison sentence -- 10 years -- was given to Army Cpl. Charles Graner, seen in many of the pictures. Staff Sgt. Ivan "Chip" Frederick, a U.S. Army reservist from Virginia, received an eight-year sentence.

    "Looking at the documents we've received under FOIA, it is very clear to us that the actions of these soldiers were part of a larger program to abuse detainees that was put in place by high-ranking officials," the ACLU's Singh told "Dateline."


    Guantanamo Bay inmates 'tortured'

    File picture of detainee at Guantanamo Bay

    Treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay constitutes torture in some cases and violates international law, a leaked UN draft report says.

    The document, seen by the Los Angeles Times, suggests that investigators will recommend the prison camp is shut down.

    It also questions the legal status of the camp and the classification of detainees as enemy combatants.

    The US State Department has criticised the draft report as "hearsay".

    'Force-fed'

    The Los Angeles Times published the draft report in its paper on Monday and spoke to one of the authors, the UN special raporteur on torture, Manfred Novak.

    "We very, very carefully considered all of the arguments posed by the US government. There are no conclusions that are easily drawn. But we concluded that the situation in several areas violates international law and conventions on human rights and torture," Mr Nowak told the LA Times.

    The report suggests some of the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay meets the definition of torture under the UN Convention Against Torture.

    This includes the force-feeding of hunger strikers through nasal tubes and the simultaneous use of several interrogation techniques such as prolonged solitary confinement and exposure to extreme temperatures, noise and light.

    The UN team also questions the legal status of the Guantanamo camp.

    It says insufficient effort has been made to prove that the inmates really are enemy combatants.

    It also recommends the prison camp is shut down.

    "The US government should close Guantanamo Bay detention facilities without further delay," the report says. "The US government should either expeditiously bring all Guantanamo Bay detainees to trial ... or release them without further delay."

    'Spurious claims'

    Mr Nowak was one of five UN envoys who interviewed former prisoners, detainees' lawyers and families during the past 18 months.


    McCain unsure if U.S. interrogations lawful

    DAVOS, Switzerland - Sen. John McCain said Friday that interrogation techniques at the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo Bay are still of concern, and the prisoners held there should have their cases processed after spending up to four years in detention without charge. The remote prison camp in eastern Cuba, where some 500 men accused of links to Afghanistan√‘ ousted Taliban regime or al-Qaida are held, crept into debates at the World Economic Forum on Friday. Only a handful of the prisoners have been charged.

    Ňłhat I was concerned about and continue to be concerned about is interrogation methods,°¶McCain, R-Ariz., told The Associated Press on the sidelines of the forum. ŇĮow, if they want to keep them in Guantanamo or Des Moines, Iowa, that√‘ not a critical issue to me. What is critical is that we adhere to treaties that we are signatories to and observe basic human rights and obey the law that we just passed concerning cruel and inhumane and degrading treatment.°¶

    McCain was the chief sponsor of a bill that President Bush signed last month banning cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of foreign detainees. The former Vietnam War POW called for more congressional involvement concerning Guantanamo and said the prisoners°¶cases should be processed and heard.

    ŇĘll human beings, no matter how evil they are, have the right to some kind of adjudication ... There should be some kind of system set up so their cases can be decided,°¶he said. Sen. John Sununu, R-N.H., said the U.S. Congress would be diligent in ensuring that human rights were protected at Guantanamo.

    Ň™ think everyone understands that it has served an important purposes in dealing with enemy combatants,°¶he told AP. Ň£ut everyone also hopes and believes that we√Õl reach a point where the progress in our effort to combat terrorism makes it unnecessary.°¶ The U.S. government has classified the men Ň∆nemy combatants,°¶a designation that does not afford them the same legal protections as under the Geneva Conventions. Many have little contact with lawyers or the outside world. FBI documents sent to The Associated Press in 2003 showed cases of prisoner abuse shortly after the camp opened in January 2001. Additional documents showed other cases as the detention mission grew, specifically with the use of female guards and interrogators using aggressive and sexually charged techniques with the detainees, most of whom are Muslim.

    General won't answer questions

    Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, who ran the Guantanamo camp from October 2002 to March 2004 and has been linked to the abuse scandal, is declining to answer questions in two courts-martial cases involving the use of dogs during interrogations at the camp. Former Presidents Clinton and Carter have called for the prison camp to be closed, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair has called the prison an Ҭnomaly.°¶

    Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, however, said Friday that the camp would cease to be on his country√‘ radar once the 100 or so Afghan prisoners were returned. Ňłhen the Afghans leave that facility, it√‘ none of our business what happens there,°¶Karzai said at a news conference at the forum. He said he expected a facility to house the Afghan prisoners to be completed within two years. Many of them are expected to be held at Kabul√‘ Policharki Prison, where seven Taliban rebels escaped Sunday. Six months earlier, four al-Qaida members, including a top lieutenant of Osama bin Laden in Southeast Asia, broke out of a jail at Bagram, the U.S. military√‘ headquarters north of Kabul.

    The prison, which is undergoing rehabilitation for the transfer, was once the scene of summary executions under former regimes, including the hard-line Taliban.


    US Releases Female Prisoners

    BAGHDAD, Iraq - The U.S. military in Iraq freed five women prisoners on Thursday, but American and Iraqi officials stressed their release was pre-planned and not linked to the case of kidnapped U.S. reporter Jill Carroll.

    The kidnappers of Carroll, who was abducted in Baghdad on Jan. 7, had threatened to kill her by last Friday unless all women prisoners were released. There has been no word on her fate.

    The five, among at least eight women held by U.S. forces in Iraq, were freed along with 414 other detainees, a U.S. military spokesman said.

    ŇĶhe case of the women detainees is a legal case and it has nothing to do with the case of the American journalist,°¶said a Justice Ministry official, who declined to be named.

    The U.S. military said in a statement that a panel comprising U.S. and Iraqi officials had recommended the release of the women after reviewing their cases.

    Ňłe have released 419 (detainees), including five women,°¶a U.S. military spokesman told Reuters.

    Iraq: Detention was a 'disgrace'
    The Justice Ministry had already publicized the panel√‘ decision but until Thursday U.S. officials were insisting no releases were imminent. Iraqi officials have suggested Washington did not want to be seen to be giving in to the hostage-takers°¶demands.

    The ministry has said it has been pressing the U.S. military to release the women, calling their detention a ŇŇisgrace°¶

    The detention of women offends many Iraqis and U.S. forces seek to avoid it in most cases. The U.S. military is holding about 14,000 security detainees following the release of about 500 guerrilla suspects last week.

    Many in the once-dominant Sunni Arab minority, which has fostered the insurgency against the U.S.-backed, Shiite-led government, resent the detentions system and say thousands are held on flimsy evidence without recourse to the law.

    More than 200 foreigners and thousands of Iraqis have been kidnapped since U.S. forces toppled Saddam Hussein three years ago. Most have been freed but dozens of foreigners have been killed.


    Former Abu Ghraib Guard Calls Top Brass Culpable for Abuse

    Wife of Jailed Soldier Says Tactics Were in Place From Start

    Stepping into the Abu Ghraib prison for the first time, Megan Ambuhl was stunned. There were naked men in dusty cells, male prisoners wearing women's underwear, others hooded and shackled in contorted positions to metal railings.

    An enlisted officer giving her a tour of the U.S. facility in October 2003 pointed to a group of detainees chained to a cell. He said the bars had often "been decorated like a Christmas tree," with prisoners as ornaments.

    Ambuhl, back home in Centreville, said officials told her and other MPs to use aggressive tactics against detainees.

    "He explained it was a military intelligence tactic," Ambuhl said in a recent interview, speaking publicly for the first time since the Abu Ghraib prison abuse was disclosed nearly two years ago. "He said it was to break the detainees that were being interrogated. It was clear it was a military intelligence facility. As I saw it, I thought that if they were doing it, it must be all right for them to be doing it."

    One of the original seven military police soldiers singled out by the Pentagon for their roles in abusive techniques, Ambuhl is speaking out because she believes the truth has been obscured by high-ranking officials intent on covering up a policy of abuse. Though her defense differs little from the arguments made previously by the defendants' attorneys, Ambuhl's first-person description of the macabre world of Abu Ghraib provides a vivid perspective on how things went out of control at the prison outside of Baghdad, a place where there were few rules and little guidance. Her account also shows that some of the abusive tactics were in place when the MPs arrived at the prison.

    Ambuhl has since married one of her fellow MPs -- Charles A. Graner Jr., the man the military has labeled the ringleader of the abusers -- and is on a mission to secure his release from prison.

    Now out of the Army, punished with a reduction in rank and a fine for dereliction of duty but no prison time, Ambuhl says the military's top brass have dodged responsibility for what was going on at the prison by scapegoating her and other low-ranking soldiers.

    By the time of her tour in 2003, Ambuhl had been in the Army reserves for about a year. She realized she was walking into something she clearly did not understand. Her unit, the 372nd Military Police Company, had been trained to do combat support jobs, not detention. She was ordered to work the night shift and said she asked few questions because she did not know what questions to ask.

    Ambuhl says she and other MPs used aggressive techniques against detainees because that is what military intelligence soldiers and civilian interrogators told her to do.

    She described a "roster board" that included which military intelligence "treatment" to give to certain detainees and said trainers from the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, taught the MPs how to put detainees in "stress positions." She said military intelligence officials told them to keep detainees naked, embarrass them or make them exercise until they reached exhaustion.

    "We were told to handcuff people in uncomfortable positions, to put people on [Meals Ready to Eat] boxes, to pour cold water on them, to make them do physical training," said Ambuhl, who worked the night shift on Tier 1B. "We did what we were told to do."

    That defense has not worked well for several of the MPs charged with abuse, most notably Graner, who worked the night shift on Tier 1A, alongside Ambuhl. Graner is serving a 10-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

    Ambuhl married Graner last April after his conviction, sending marriage documents to him to sign in prison. The Army has prevented them from meeting or even speaking, alleging that they are co-conspirators.


    Army officer guilty in Iraqi general's death

    Convicted of negligent homicide at detention camp

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    FORT CARSON, Colorado (AP) -- An Army officer was found guilty of negligent homicide late Saturday in the death of an Iraqi general at a detention camp, but was spared a conviction of murder that could have sent him to prison for life.

    A panel of six Army officers also convicted Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer Jr., 43, of negligent dereliction of duty. He was acquitted of assault after six hours of deliberations.

    Welshofer was accused of putting a sleeping bag over the head of Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush, sitting on his chest and using his hand to cover the general's mouth while asking him questions in 2003.

    Welshofer, who stood silently and showed no reaction when the verdict was announced, faces a dishonorable discharge and up to three years in prison for negligent homicide and three months for negligent dereliction of duty. Sentencing was scheduled for Monday.

    If convicted of the original murder charge, he could have been sentenced to life in prison.

    The defense had argued a heart condition caused Mowhoush's death, and that Welshofer's commanders had approved the interrogation technique.

    "What he was doing he was doing in the open, and he was doing it because he believed the information in fact would save lives," attorney Frank Spinner said.

    Spinner said he was disappointed with the verdict and would decide after sentencing whether to appeal.

    "The verdict recognizes the context in which these events took place," he said. "It was a very difficult time in Iraq. There was confusion, and they were not getting clear guidance from headquarters."

    Welshofer and prosecutors left without commenting.

    During the trial, prosecutor Maj. Tiernan Dolan described a rogue interrogator who became frustrated with Mowhoush's refusal to answer questions and escalated his techniques from simple interviews to beatings to simulating drowning, and finally, to death.

    "He treated that general worse than you would treat a dog and he did so knowing he was required to treat the general humanely," Dolan said.

    Welshofer used his sleeping bag technique in the presence of lower ranking soldiers, but never in the presence of officers with the authority to stop him, Dolan said.

    The treatment of the Iraqi general "could fairly be described as torture," Dolan said.

    In an e-mail to a commander, Dolan said, Welshofer wrote that restrictions on interrogation techniques were impeding the Army's ability to gather intelligence. Welshofer wrote that authorized techniques came from Cold War-era doctrine that did not apply in Iraq, Dolan said.

    "Our enemy understands force, not psychological mind games," Dolan quoted from Welshofer's message. Dolan said an officer responded by telling Welshofer to "take a deep breath and remember who we are."

    The defense urged jurors to consider conditions in Iraq at the time of the interrogation: Soldiers were being killed in an increasingly lethal and increasingly bold insurgency. Welshofer had to make some decisions on his own because guidance was lacking and other techniques weren't working, Spinner said.

    Officials believed Mowhoush had information that would "break the back of the whole insurgency," said defense attorney Capt. Ryan Rosauer. They also thought Mowhoush helping to bring foreign fighters into Iraq from across the Syrian border, he said.

    Several prosecution witnesses, including one whose identity is classified and who testified in a closed session, had been granted immunity in exchange for their cooperation, Spinner noted. Two soldiers who were initially charged with murder in the case also were given immunity.


    Bush challenged on spying policy

    US President George Bush Two civil liberties groups in the US have taken legal action to block President George W Bush's domestic spying programme.

    The groups want an immediate halt to the "illegal and unconstitutional" eavesdropping on US citizens.

    The federal lawsuits were filed in New York and Detroit by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

    The president has defended the policy as critical to the war against terror.

    Mr Bush signed a secret presidential order following the 11 September 2001 attacks, allowing the National Security Agency (NSA) to track the international telephone calls and e-mails of hundreds of people without referral to the courts.

    Previously, surveillance on US soil was generally limited to foreign embassies.

    Spying row

    The ACLU and CCR are seeking an injunction preventing the government carrying out electronic surveillance in the US without warrants.

    Mr Bush and the head of the NSA, Keith Alexander, are named in the legal actions.

    The head of ACLU, Anthony Romero, described the current monitoring of US citizens as "a chilling assertion of presidential power".

    CCR legal director Bill Goodman said: "This illegal activity is cloaked in the guise of national security.

    "In reality, it reflects an attempt by the Bush administration to exercise unchecked power without the inconvenient interference of the other co-equal branches of the government."

    Other plaintiffs include Greenpeace, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and UK journalist Christopher Hitchens.

    The New York Times, which leaked information about the spying policy last month, reported on Tuesday that much of the domestic spying was unproductive and led federal agents to dead ends or innocent US citizens.


    US officer tried over Iraqi death

    The court-martial of a US officer charged with murdering an Iraqi general who was being held in custody has begun in Colorado.

    Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer Jr denies murdering Maj-Gen Abed Hamed Mowhoush in 2003.

    Prosecutors say Mowhoush was bound, placed headfirst in a sleeping bag and died with an officer sitting on him.

    The trial opened with a military judge rejecting a defence lawyer's request to dismiss the case.

    The trial is expected to last a week.

    It is one of a number of deaths of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan that the US military is investigating.

    'Asphyxiated'

    Defence lawyers called a witness who claimed he had overheard a juror coming under pressure from a senior officer, and applied for the case to be dismissed because of "unlawful command influence".

    But the judge rejected the request.

    It is thought the defence may cite reports, published in the Washington Post newspaper, that said the general had been assaulted by CIA-sponsored Iraqi paramilitaries two days before his death.

    Mowhoush died while being held at al-Qaim in Iraq, near the Syrian border.

    A death certificate published by the Pentagon gave the cause as asphyxia due to smothering and chest compression.

    The murder charge carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment without parole.



    Defense says it√‘ outnumbered in Gitmo trials Prosecutors said to outnumber defense lawyers 4-to-1 at military trials

    GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba - Prosecutors outnumber defense lawyers 4-to-1 at military trials for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, the chief defense counsel said, arguing that his team needs more staff. The U.S. prosecution team has 17 members compared to four military defense attorneys, said Marine Col. Dwight Sullivan after a hearing Thursday involving a Canadian teenager accused of killing a U.S. medic during fighting in Afghanistan.

    Ňłe have nine cases. So clearly we need more personnel resources,°¶Sullivan said. Ňįbviously there√‘ quite an imbalance between the prosecutor√‘ office and our office.°¶ Sullivan said two civilian attorneys would join their team and they were attempting to mobilize a number of Army reserve lawyers to join the defense office over the next few months. Ňłe are one claimant on a very limited pool of resources and we have been advocating for more resources,°¶he said. But Maj. Jane Boomer, a spokeswoman for the Office of Military Commissions, disputed that there was such an imbalance. She said the defense had help from law school volunteers, among other things, and that both sides provided strong representation during this week√‘ proceedings. She also questioned the figure of 17 prosecutors, but provided no alternate number. Sullivan said the difference in the size of the teams was partly due to the fact that litigation in U.S. courts challenging the Guantanamo proceedings have held up the commissions, or trials. Lawyers assigned to the defense team left during that time. Ňłe√”e playing catch up,°¶he said.

    His comments came after pretrial hearings Wednesday and Thursday for two detainees. Prisoner says he will boycott proceedings In one case, that of Yemeni prisoner Ali Hamza Ahmad Sulayman al Bahlul, the presiding officer said the prosecution team had four lawyers and the defense had a single attorney.

    Al Bahlul said he was boycotting the proceedings because he couldn√’ appoint an attorney of his choice. Maj. Tom Fleener, al Bahlul√‘ military counsel, attempted to withdraw as the detainee√‘ attorney, saying it was clear he was not wanted. The presiding officer, Army Col. Peter E. Brownback denied the request, saying al Bahlul was required to have a military lawyer.

    Al Bahlul is charged with conspiring with al-Qaida members to commit war crimes, including attacking civilians. Prosecutors charge that al Bahlul was ordered by Osama bin Laden to create a video glorifying the group√‘ October 2000 attack on the destroyer USS Cole in Yemen that killed 17 American sailors. In the second case, 19-year-old Omar Ahmed Khadr√‘ military counsel requested a more experienced military lawyer to join their team. The Toronto-born prisoner is charged with murder, attempted murder, aiding the enemy and conspiracy. Khadr, the son of an alleged al-Qaida financial leader, Ahmad Said al-Khadr, was captured on July 27, 2002, near Khost in eastern Afghanistan. He was caught after being badly wounded in a firefight in which an American soldier was killed and four others were wounded. The detention center in Cuba√‘ eastern tip opened Jan. 11, 2002, after the U.S.-led force ousted the Taliban regime in Afghanistan for harboring bin Laden. Only nine of the roughly 500 detainees at the naval base have been charged after years in detention.

    Merkel criticises Guantanamo Bay

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the summit in Brussels

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay "should not exist", in an interview days before she meets George W Bush.

    In the interview to be published on Monday, Mrs Merkel criticises the US camp in Cuba, saying "different ways" should be found to deal with prisoners.

    Her visit to Washington is her first since she took office in November.

    Mrs Merkel hopes to improve relations with the US, which were strained when Gerhard Schroeder opposed the Iraq war.

    Mrs Merkel told the German magazine Der Spiegel: "An institution like Guantanamo can and should not exist in the longer term.

    "Different ways and means must be found for dealing with these prisoners."

    At a news conference on Saturday, Mrs Merkel defended her comments, but said she would not demand the immediate closure of the camp when she meets with President Bush next week.

    "That's my opinion and my view and I'll say it elsewhere just as I have expressed it here," she said.

    Suspects held in Guantanamo Bay "My talks with leaders of other countries don't consist of my expressing demands but of exchanging views."

    The chancellor told Der Spiegel she expected to speak to Mr Bush about the fight against terrorism.

    "But I want to accentuate that our relationship with the US will not be reduced to talking about fighting terrorism and the Iraq war," she said. Mrs Merkel's Social Democrat partners in the coalition government welcomed her condemnation of Guantanamo.

    "The Guantanamo camp must be closed. The Guantanamo system was and still is bad," said the party's parliamentary leader Walter Kolbow.

    "It was and remains in contradiction with the agreements and standards of international law."

    Human rights campaigners have expressed growing concern about the treatment of inmates at Guantanamo.

    The Bush administration has denied allegations of abuse at Guantanamo, insisting it does not torture prisoners.








    General Sanchez Faces Retirement

    The Army career of LT. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the American comander in Iraq during the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, may end. He told senior Army officials that he plan to retire this summer rather than facing Senate confirmation fight.But the legacy of Abu Ghraib and its photographs of prisoner mistreatment that prompted worldwide outrage dogged General Sanchez and ensured that any promotion would ignite a political storm on Capitol Hill over holding senior military officers and top Pentagon officials accountable for the misconduct.

    "It's a question of simply not being able to get by Senate confirmation," said one Army general, adding that Pentagon officials feared that nominating General Sanchez for a new job would "stir up too much political bad news in an election year."

    Friends and colleagues say that General Sanchez, who currently commands the Army's V Corps in Germany, decided in recent weeks that the political climate in Washington would not improve for him, and resigned himself to leaving the Army after 33 years of service. Army officials said he could step down from V Corps in the coming months and serve in a brief interim job if it did not require Senate confirmation. The independent panel that investigated the Abu Ghraib scandal in 2004, headed by former Defense Secretary James R. Schlesinger, found that General Sanchez had been derelict in overseeing detention in Iraq. A classified portion of a second report, by three Army generals, said that General Sanchez approved the use of some severe interrogation practices in Iraq that had been intended to be limited to prisoners at Guant°¶amo Bay, Cuba, and in Afghanistan. By issuing and reviewing rules for interrogations in Iraq three times in 30 days, General Sanchez and his legal advisers sowed such confusion that interrogators acted in ways that violated the Geneva Conventions, the report said. General Sanchez and his deputies consistently maintained that the only practices they authorized for use in Iraq were consistent with the Geneva Conventions, which cover the care and treatment of detainees. Last year, General Sanchez was cleared by the Army inspector general of the allegations contained in the Schlesinger report, prompting supporters like Mr. Rumsfeld and General Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, to express optimism that the military had put the abuse scandal behind them. But Abu Ghraib had not faded away.

    General Sanchez's awkward position was laid bare this week when he led a farewell ceremony for nearly 700 V Corps soldiers who will take over the military headquarters staff here from the XVIII Airborne Corps on Jan. 19. "A daunting task lies ahead; I have no doubt you are well trained," General Sanchez, dressed in his helmet and body armor, told soldiers at a ceremony in Heidelberg on Tuesday, Stars and Stripes reported. "The country's on the verge of a civil war."

    But instead of leading his V Corps staff into Iraq, General Sanchez will stay behind in Germany to receive 4,500 other soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, who formerly commanded the First Cavalry Division in Baghdad, will take the corps headquarters staff to Iraq. The unusual command arrangement has fueled speculation here over the fate of General Sanchez, who was the top American commander in Iraq in December 2003, when American troops captured Saddam Hussein, and when the insurgency boiled over in the spring of 2004.

    "It's odd but it's not insurmountable," said one senior Army officer here. In Washington, General Sanchez's plans remained a mystery to most Army officials. "The Army has received no formal request for LTG Sanchez's retirement," Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, the Army's chief spokesman, said in an e-mail message. "Retirement decisions are not a public matter unless revealed by the individual involved." General Brooks added, "The Army leaders do have confidence in LTG Sanchez." General Sanchez said in an e-mail message on Wednesday that "it is inappropriate for me to make any specific comment on my future plans at this point." To retire at his current three-star rank, General Sanchez must win Senate approval, usually a rubber stamp for senior commanders. But it is unclear whether any senator would object.

    The general's life story reads like a pitch-perfect script for an Army recruiter. As a 6-year-old, he worked as a dry cleaner's delivery boy to supplement the welfare payment that supported his Mexican-American family in Rio Grande City, Tex., a few miles from the border that his paternal grandfather first crossed in the early 1900's. He was the first in his family to graduate from high school. "I guess I never realized that I was that poor," he told The New York Times in an interview in 2004. "We just thought we were fortunate because we were in America."

    Lynndie England burned in prison kitchen Soldier jailed for Abu Ghraib abuse suffered grease burn

    SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Lynndie England, the U.S. soldier who posed for some of the most infamous pictures of detainee abuse at Baghdad°«s Abu Ghraib prison, suffered burns at the prison where she is serving her sentence, her family said Friday. England was injured about three weeks ago in a kitchen mishap at Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar, said her father, Kenneth England, from his home in West Virginia.

    The young reservist was reaching for a pan with chicken when grease splattered on her neck and chest, Kenneth England said. She was taken to the hospital, where they told her to put ice on it. She later had to ask for burn cream. °»When it happened, she didn°«t get nothing,°… her father said.

    He last spoke with his daughter on Christmas, when she told him she was doing better. He said he expected to hear from her this weekend. °»As far as I know, she°«s doing fine,°… Kenneth England said.

    A message left with the Navy was not immediately returned. England, who was convicted of six counts involving prisoner mistreatment, was shown posing with a pyramid of naked detainees and pointing at the genitals of a prisoner while a cigarette hangs from the corner of her mouth. The photos were among several that sparked outrage and severely damaged America°«s image in the Muslim world.

    England blamed the abuse on reputed abuse ringleader Pvt. Charles Graner Jr., whom she said took advantage of her love and trust while deployed in Iraq. Graner was sentenced to 10 years.

    Number of Gitmo prisoners on hunger strike doubles 84 detainees now refusing food

    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- The number of detainees on hunger strike at the U.S. military detention facility in Guantanamo Bay has more than doubled in the last week to 84, an official said Thursday. Forty-six detainees joined 38 already on strike on December 25, said Guantanamo spokesman Lt. Col. Jeremy Martin, who added that the number of fasting detainees "routinely fluctuates."

    "On the anniversary of September 11, the number of strikers spiked to 131," Martin said. "They steadily decreased over the weeks and months until December 25, and then they spiked again." Thirty-two fasting detainees were being fed through tubes, either through their noses or intravenously. The military classifies detainees who miss nine straight meals as being on a hunger strike. The current fast began August 8.

    Many of the detainees at Guantanamo have been held more than 3 1/2 years without charge or access to lawyers. Most were captured in Afghanistan and are suspected of ties to al Qaeda or the ousted Taliban regime that sheltered the terrorist network.

    U.S.: Iraqi government may not control prisons State Dept. questions central government's responsibility in prisoner abuse

    WASHINGTON - The Bush administration suggested Tuesday that prisons in Iraq where hundreds of detainees apparently were abused were only °»nominally°… under the control of the central government in Baghdad. And, while the central government, with U.S. help, is trying to take charge of these °»nominal prisons°… the problem has not been solved, State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said.

    °»We and the Iraqi government continue to have concern about the way prisoners are treated,°… the spokesman said. Ereli°«s statement acknowledged weakness in the Iraqi government, but also credited it with trying to address a problem that undercuts the administration°«s case that reform is taking hold since the toppling of President Saddam Hussein.

    °»We are working with the Iraqi government to provide advice and technical assistance°… to correct the prison situation, the U.S. spokesman said. U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said earlier this month that at least 120 abused prisoners were found in two detention facilities run by the Shiite-led Interior Ministry.

    Even before then, Sunni Arabs had complained about abuse and torture by Interior Ministry security forces. The U.S. military said Sunday it would not hand over prison facilities or individual prisoners to Iraqi officials until they have demonstrated higher standards of care.


    U.S.: No handover of jails to Iraq

    The U.S. military will not hand over jails or individual detainees to Iraqi authorities until they demonstrate higher standards of care, an American official said Sunday, two weeks after the discovery of 120 abused Iraqi prisoners. Meanwhile, bloodshed claimed at least 18 lives across Iraq, including two U.S. and five Iraqi soldiers killed by bombings in Baghdad. Lt. Col. Barry Johnson said detention facilities in Iraq will be transferred over time to Iraqi officials but they must first show that the rights of detainees are safeguarded and that international law on the treatment of prisoners is being followed.

    "A specific timeline for doing this is difficult to project at this stage with so many variables," said Johnson, a military spokesman. "The Iraqis are committed to doing this right and will not rush to failure. The transition will be based on meeting standards, not on a timeline." He was commenting on a New York Times story Sunday that was the first to report prison facilities wouldn't be handed over until Iraqi officials improved standards. Prisons have been one of the sore points between the Shiite Muslim majority and Sunni Arabs, a long-dominant minority that saw its power evaporate with Saddam Hussein's ouster. U.S. officials are pushing to heal the rift as a way to weaken support for the Sunni-led insurgency.

    U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said earlier this month that at least 120 abused prisoners had been found inside two jails controlled by Shiite-run Iraqi Interior Ministry. Sunni Arabs long have complained about abuse and torture by Interior Ministry security forces. Interior Minister Bayan Jabr contends torture allegations have been exaggerated by people who sympathize with insurgents. Johnson said that in preparation for the eventual handover of prisons, the U.S. Department of Justice is training Iraqi prison guards. About 300 have completed the course, he said.

    American authorities suffered their own black eye over mistreatment of prisoners when photographs surfaced early last year showing U.S. soldiers abusing detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison on Baghdad's western outskirts. The scandal led to convictions for nine Army reservists. In ongoing violence, the U.S. command reported that two American soldiers were killed by bombs Sunday. No other details were immediately released, and it was not clear if they died in the same incident.

    A suicide car bomber slammed into two Iraqi army vehicles in central Baghdad, killing five soldiers and wounding seven police and civilians, police Maj. Mohammed Younis said. A second suicide car bomb targeting Iraqi police in Baghdad wounded four officers. Bombings and gun attacks killed at least 11 more people elsewhere in the capital, Kirkuk, Mosul and Jbala, authorities said.

    In Baghdad's Shiite slum of Sadr City, about 1,000 demonstrators rallied to support the governing Shiite religious coalition, the United Iraqi Alliance, which took a large lead in preliminary results from the Dec. 15 parliamentary elections. Those results have been attacked by Sunni Arab and secular Shiite parties, which charge the election was tainted by fraud and other irregularities. The Alliance, headed by cleric Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, denies there was any fraud and is urging Iraqis to accept the results as it tries to form a "national unity" government drawing people from all communities.

    Sunni Arabs staged smaller demonstrations in Fallujah and Baqouba to support demands from Sunni and secular Shiite parties for a rerun of the election. In Fallujah, a former insurgent stronghold in western Anbar province, local government offices closed to support the protest. "We decided to have a sit-in today and stop work in government offices to convey our demands for a rerun of elections," said Fallujah's mayor, Dhari al-Arsan.

    Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a member of the Kurdish minority, sought to calm tensions by saying Sunday that all factions will have a role in the new government. "The government will not be formed without the Sunni Arabs," Talabani told reporters in the northern resort town of Dukan, where he met with Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani and the U.S. ambassador to discuss the political situation. Talabani said there must be a "consensus government that preserves national unity." He said the rights of the Kurdish people must also be guaranteed. All of the election complaints demonstrate the difficulty that Iraqi parties will face in forming a government after final election results are released in early January. About 1,500 complaints have been lodged about the elections, including at least 35 that the Iraqi election commission said could be serious enough to change the results in certain areas.


    Court rejects request to transfer Padilla custody

    Jose Padilla, in an undated file photo.

    WASHINGTON - In a sharp rebuke, a federal appeals court denied Wednesday a Bush administration request to transfer terrorism suspect Jose Padilla from military to civilian law enforcement custody. The three-judge panel of the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said bringing criminal charges against Padilla in Florida after he had been held by the U.S. military for more than three years as an enemy combatant created the appearance the government may be attempting to avoid high court review of the controversial case.

    The judges also refused the administration's request to void a September ruling that gave President Bush wide authority to detain enemy combatants indefinitely without charges on U.S. soil. Wiping out that ruling would have made it virtually impossible for the Supreme Court to review the case. The decision, written by Judge Michael Luttig, questioned why the administration used one set of facts before the court for 3ĺ¬years to justify holding Padilla without charges but used another set to convince a grand jury in Florida to indict him last month. In bringing the original criminal charges against Padilla, the Justice Department said Padilla had plotted with al-Qaida to set off a radioactive "dirty bomb" in the United States and schemed to blow up apartment buildings. But Padilla was charged last month in Miami with being part of a terrorism cell that raised money and recruited fighters to wage jihad outside the United States. The government made no mention of its previous allegations against him in the latest indictment.

    Luttig said the administration has risked its Credibility before the courts°¶by appearing to use the indictment of Padilla to thwart an appeal of the appeals court's decision that gave the president wider power in holding enemy combatants. A Department of Justice statement said DOJ was "disappointed" in the court's decision not to allow Padilla's transfer.

    "The President's authority to detain enemy combatants, which the Fourth Circuit has upheld, should not be viewed as an obstacle to an exercise of the government's undoubted authority to prosecute federal crimes, including those related to terrorism," DOJ added, in the statement delivered by director of public affairs, Tasua Scolinos. Padilla's attorney, Donna Newman, said she hopes Wednesday's decision is the impetus for the Supreme Court to take up Padilla's case and the enemy combatant issue in general. Padilla, a former Chicago gang member, was arrested in 2002 at Chicago's Ohare Airport as he returned to the United States from Afghanistan. Justice and Defense Department officials alleged Padilla had come home to carry out an al-Qaida-backed plot to blow up apartment buildings in New York, Washington or Florida. The ruling came on a day the administration was struggling to get the anti-terrorism Patriot Act reauthorized, and while it is under fire in Congress for Bush's secret order allowing domestic eavesdropping


    U.S. ran Afghan torture prison, group says

    KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The United States operated a secret prison in Afghanistan as recently as last year, torturing detainees with sleep deprivation, chaining them to the walls and forcing them to listen to loud music in total darkness for days, a human rights group alleged Monday.

    The prison was run near Kabul, Afghanistan's capital, New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a report based on the accounts of several detainees at the U.S. prison for suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay.

    According to the report, the detainees were kept in total darkness — they called the facility "Dark Prison" — and were tortured and mistreated by American and Afghan guards in civilian clothes, an indication the facility may have been operated by the CIA.

    "They were chained to walls, deprived of food and drinking water, and kept in total darkness with loud rap, heavy metal music, or other sounds blared for weeks at a time," the report said.

    "Some detainees said they were shackled in a manner that made it impossible to lie down or sleep, with restraints that caused their hands and wrists to swell up or bruise."

    Human Rights Watch did not speak with the detainees directly because the United States has not allowed rights organizations to visit detainees at Guantanamo or other overseas detention sites.

    Instead, the detainees' accounts were given to their lawyers, who passed them on to the rights group. The group said the allegations were credible enough to warrant an official investigation.

    "We're not talking about torture in the abstract, but the real thing," said John Sifton, terrorism and counterterrorism researcher at Human Rights Watch. "U.S. personnel and officials may be criminally liable, and a special prosecutor is needed to investigate."

    The report said Benyam Mohammad, an Ethiopian-born Guantanamo detainee who grew up in Britain, claimed he was held at the facility in 2004.

    "It was pitch black, no lights on in the rooms for most of the time," he was quoted as telling his lawyer. "They hung me up. I was allowed a few hours of sleep on the second day, then hung up again, this time for two days."

    Mohammad went on to say that he was forced to listen to Eminem and Dr. Dre for 20 days before the music was replaced by "horrible ghost laughter and Halloween sounds."

    "The CIA worked on people, including me, day and night," he was quoted as saying. "Plenty lost their minds. I could hear people knocking their heads against the walls and the doors, screaming their heads off."

    The report said the prison was closed after several detainees were transferred to a U.S. military detention center near Bagram, just north of Kabul, late last year.

    The United States' handling of detainees has come under increasing scrutiny in recent weeks.

    Khaled al-Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese descent, is suing the CIA for wrongful imprisonment and torture, saying he was seized in Macedonia on Dec. 31, 2003, and taken by CIA agents to Afghanistan, where he was allegedly abused before being released in Albania in May 2004.

    CIA officials have not commented on the allegations.

    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, meanwhile, has said the United States acts within the law and argued that Europeans are safer because of tough U.S. tactics, but she refused to discuss intelligence operations or address questions about clandestine CIA detention centers.

    Senior members of the European Parliament, meanwhile, have proposed setting up an investigative committee to determine whether U.S. agents held terror suspects in secret European prisons.

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    White House backs torture ban law

    Guantanamo inmate and guards

    President George W Bush has announced he will support a new law banning cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of terrorist suspects.

    Sponsored by Republican Senator John McCain, the law on torture has been the subject of months of negotiations between Congress and the White House.

    The BBC's Adam Brookes in Washington says this is a change of heart by Mr Bush, under pressure from Congress.

    Mr Bush had said it would constrain the military and intelligence agencies.

    But when both the Senate and the House of Representatives came out overwhelmingly in favour of a new law banning torture, Mr Bush did not have much choice, our correspondent says - even though it is a blow to presidential authority.

    Mr McCain, once a prisoner of war who was tortured in Vietnam and now Senator for Arizona, proposed the measure as an amendment to a military spending bill.

    'Hearts and minds'

    The law's supporters argued that it would repair some of the damage done to America's international standing by detainee abuse scandals in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The White House said it would make US interrogators and guards much more vulnerable to lawsuits filed by aggrieved detainees.

    Senator John McCain (left) and President George W Bush

    Both the Senate and the House of Representatives, which are controlled by the Republicans, disagreed.

    At a joint news conference with Mr McCain at the White House, Mr Bush said: "Senator McCain has been a leader to make sure that the United States of America upholds the values of America as we fight and win this war on terror...

    "We've been happy to work with him to achieve a common objective - and that is to make it clear to the world that this government does not torture, and that we adhere to the International Convention of Torture whether it be here at home or abroad."

    Senator McCain said the law would help win hearts and minds in the fight against terrorism.

    "We have sent a message to the world that the US is not like the terrorists," he said.




    CIA abduction claims 'credible'

    Dick Marty

    Allegations that the CIA abducted and illegally transported terror suspects across European borders are credible, an investigator has said.

    Swiss senator Dick Marty has submitted a report on the claims, made in the media, to a meeting of the human rights committee of the Council of Europe.

    Mr Marty criticised the US for refusing to confirm or deny the allegations.

    US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has repeated assurances that the US would never condone torture.

    Speaking in Washington, she made no direct reference to European concerns about the secret CIA flights, but said the US would respect its own laws while recognising that the "war on terror" was a different kind of war.

    She said that the US should do anything that was legal to prevent terrorist attacks.

    Extra pressure

    Mr Marty's findings were released in an official statement by a committee of the 46-member Council of Europe, the continent's human rights watchdog.

    "The elements we have gathered so far tend to reinforce the credibility of the allegations concerning the transport and temporary detention of detainees - outside all judicial procedure - in European countries," he said.

    He went on: "Legal proceedings in progress in certain countries seemed to indicate that individuals had been abducted and transferred to other countries without respect for any legal standards."

    The BBC's Alix Kroeger in Strasbourg says the strongly worded report will add to the pressure for more in-depth inquiries.

    The European Union has so far declined to investigate, although it has said any member state with secret prisons on its territory could have its EU voting rights suspended.

    Poland and Romania have been named by the media as possible locations of CIA secret prisons, but have denied the allegations.

    In his statement, Mr Marty said it was "still too early to assert that there had been any involvement or complicity of member states in illegal actions".

    But, he warned, if the allegations proved correct any European states involved "would stand accused of having seriously breached their human rights obligations to the Council of Europe".

    However, Mr Marty told a news conference he believed any prisoners held secretly by the US in Europe had now been moved to North Africa.

    Tony Lloyd, a member of the Council's parliamentary assembly, told the BBC the charges that people may have been effectively kidnapped and taken to other countries for possible torture "were of such magnitude that they have to have proper answers".

    Torture ban

    Mr Marty urged the US to comment formally on the allegations, saying he "deplore[d] the fact that no information or explanations" were given during last week's tour of Europe by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

    At the time, Ms Rice refused to address claims the CIA operated secret prisons abroad, where suspects could be interrogated without reference to international law.

    Condoleezza Rice

    She said American interrogators were bound by a UN treaty banning the use of torture, regardless of whether they were working in the US or abroad.

    A group of British MPs investigating the matter, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition, said the UK could have risked breaching its legal obligations.

    International law expert Professor James Crawford, of Cambridge University, told the group the UK government must satisfy itself on the issue of torture rather than relying on US assurances.


    U.S. Admits Wrongful Detention

    BUCHAREST, Romania, Dec. 6 -- The Bush administration has admitted it mistakenly abducted a German citizen on suspicions of terrorist links, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday after meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Berlin.

    Rice declined to comment on the specific case of Khaled Masri, but said she pledged to Merkel that "when and if mistakes are made, we work very hard and as quickly as possible to rectify them."

    U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrives at the military part of the Berlin Tegel airport

    Merkel told a news conference that "the American administration has admitted this man has been erroneously taken." Her statement appeared likely to escalate scrutiny of the administration's policy of secretly whisking terrorist suspects away to covert detention centers in other countries for extrajudicial interrogations, a practice known as "rendition."

    The Washington Post reported Sunday that in May 2004, then-U.S. ambassador Daniel R. Coats told the German interior minister about the case but requested that the German government never disclose the information even if Masri went public.

    Masri, 42, a German national of Lebanese origin, was held for four months in Afghanistan after being seized while vacationing in Macedonia. He filed suit Tuesday in U.S. federal court in Northern Virginia against George J. Tenet, the former CIA director, and three companies allegedly involved in transporting captured suspects on secret flights.

    The father of five, who was born in Kuwait to Lebanese parents and moved to Germany 20 years ago, claimed in the lawsuit that he was detained and tortured by U.S. government agents after he was mistaken for an associate of one of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers. He is being represented in the lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union.

    "I am asking the American government to admit its mistakes and to apologize for my treatment," Masri said in a statement. "Throughout my time in the prison, I asked to be brought before a court but was refused. Now I am hoping that an American court will say very clearly that what happened to me was illegal and cannot be done to others."

    In Washington, President Bush refused to discuss the rendition program or secret detention centers Tuesday, stressing that covert operations are needed to protect Americans. He repeated his previous denial that U.S. authorities engage in torture. He made the comments to reporters after a meeting at the White House with the visiting director of the World Health Organization.

    Asked if his administration has any plans to change its policies on rendition and the detention centers, President Bush said, "First of all, I don't talk about secret programs, covert programs, covert activities. Part of a successful war on terror is for the United States of America to be able to conduct operations -- all aimed at protecting the American people -- covertly."

    He added, "We abide by the law of the United States, and we do not torture." Nor does the United States "render to countries that torture," Bush said. "That has been our policy. And that policy will remain the same."

    Bush said America's enemies want to strike the country again, "and the American people expect us to, within our laws, do everything we can to protect them."

    In Berlin, questions about media reports concerning secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe, CIA rendition practices and the Masri case dominated Rice's news conference with Merkel. The news conference in Berlin attracted dozens of reporters and 27 television cameras.








    Rice√‘ credibility could be at stake over CIA jails

    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is now the public face of the Bush administration's promise to play by the world's rules when it comes to fighting terrorism. So if they're broken, her credibility abroad, and perhaps at home, could be at stake. Throughout Europe, there is suspicion and anger over reports of secret CIA interrogation centers and transport flights for suspected terrorists.

    It explains why Rice, during her trip to Europe last week, tapped some of the good will she has built up over nearly a year of intensive travel and outreach. Rice met with government leaders nervous about what the United States may be doing on European soil.

    The Europeans also were aware that their constituents often take a dim view of the administration's policies on human rights and civil liberties. At a NATO meeting Thursday, European leaders said Rice satisfied many of their concerns, even as several officials made plain their continued disagreement with Washington. Rice assured allies that the U.S. does not condone or practice torture or interrogation practices that look very much like torture. She said no European airport or airspace was used to move suspected terrorists to places where they might be tortured. Rice may be the only U.S. figure who could, as NATO Secretary-General Jaap De Hoop Scheffer said, clear the air in Europe. Courting European opinion She used her first overseas trip as secretary, in February, to court Europeans angered by the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and mistrustful of her boss, President Bush. That and other work paid off as European leaders offered polite support for Rice last week, even if backing from the public and press in Europe was in question. Writing in Britain's The Independent, columnist Mary Dejevsky said Rice got a free pass. "Europe's foreign ministers rolled over, stuck their paws in the air and allowed Ms. Rice to tickle their stomachs," she wrote. She noted De Hoop Scheffer's assertion that "you will not see this discussion continuing." "To which the only reasonable response should be: Why on earth not?" Dejevsky asked. Europeans are as skeptical as they were two years ago, or perhaps more so, because of the CIA reports, said Robin Niblett, director of the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Their distaste for Bush and Vice President Cheney has not abated, he said.

    "I think her personal credibility has been tarnished or at least blended in with the negative impressions that they have of the president and vice president," Niblett said. To get a sense of the level of mistrust of U.S. intentions, consider that it took the chief U.S. diplomat to state what sounds basic to Americans — that it U.S. policy is to abide by international treaties and U.S. laws. It is also unusual for the secretary of state to be the public voice for policies carried out by the military, CIA and the Justice Department.

    Yet Rice had no real choice. "In this case it became a topic of great interest in Europe, so it became in part a foreign policy issue with which she had to deal," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said. "Part of her job is to speak about U.S. obligations and how we comply." Neither he nor Rice directly answered whether Rice's stock would fall with her counterparts if there were other incidents such as the abuse of detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. ŃĶhe rule of law°¶ "Will there be abuses of policy? That is entirely possible," Rice said at a NATO press conference Thursday. "Just because you are a democracy, it doesn't mean that you're perfect." She pledged investigations and punishments if there were violations, and said democracies such as the U.S. are obliged to live by the rules they set for others.

    "Around the world we are talking to people about the importance of the rule of law, and so we have to also live under the rule of law," she said. Rice's four-nation European tour was arranged before reports that the CIA ran secret European jails to house and potentially mistreat terrorism suspects broke in the press last month.

    The administration refused to confirm or deny the existence of such prisons, and tried to ignore the story at home even as it mushroomed in Europe. It took a month before the administration would acknowledge the outcry and address it.

    Rice came close to acknowledging the prisons, but spent most of the week trying to reassure Europeans that the U.S. does not practice torture and would not seek loopholes to allow it. As she left for Europe, Rice tried to defuse the issue by saying the U.S. respects the sovereignty of others and that Europeans had benefited from the intelligence that U.S. methods produced. The reference to sovereignty was intended as a coded message to European governments that any hosts of secret prisons knew about them and approved them. Rice is the most popular member of the Bush administration, polls show. A Pew Research survey in October found that 60 percent of respondents held either a very favorable or mostly favorable view of her, while 25 percent had a very or mostly unfavorable view.


    White House On Iraq/Torture


    Q And so when Secretary Rice seemed to, at least to a layperson's view, expand the U.S. policy by saying it extends to any employee who is working anywhere in the world, which seemed to many people to be a distinction from just those installations that are in the United States being separate from those abroad -- did that aspect of it come up? Q And so when Secretary Rice seemed to, at least to a layperson's view, expand the U.S. policy by saying it extends to any employee who is working anywhere in the world, which seemed to many people to be a distinction from just those installations that are in the United States being separate from those abroad -- did that aspect of it come up?

    MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again -- no, that did not. The President was the one who brought it up. But then I think the -- they went on to talk about -- more about the war on terrorism and the nature of the enemy we face, and the Chancellor expressed how he shared our commitment to doing all we can, lawfully, to protect our citizens. I mean, that's a commitment that all governments have a responsibility to fulfill. And the President has made it very clear, and he made it clear in the meeting, too, that we're going to do everything we can within the law to protect our citizens. He remembers very well what happened on September 11th -- it's something that he will never forget. And that's why we are taking all the actions that we are, from the air marshals to taking the fight to the enemy abroad so that we don't have to fight them here at home, to moving forward on provisions like the Patriot Act that provide us important tools to defend Americans here at home and disrupt plots from happening in the first place.

    Q Scott, on Iraq, how big a turnout do you think will be needed to make this election a success?

    MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not an election predictor, but --

    Q You've had 8 million the first time, 10 million the next, will it be more this time --

    MR. McCLELLAN: I've never tried to be an election predictor, but what I would point out is that in January you had some 8 million people turn out to vote, which was an historic election at the time, for the transitional government. Then that government formed, moved forward on drafting a constitution. In October they came back and the Iraqi citizens came back and voted on the constitutional referendum, and you had some 10 million people showing up at the polls. And now you see reports throughout Iraq that politics is breaking out around the country. I mentioned how there are numerous political parties; there are thousands of candidates participating in this election. And what we're there to do is help support them as they move forward. I think you have a large, very large number of election monitors that will be in place. I think they're mostly Iraqi, but there will be international ones, as well, and maybe even some others that will be there to monitor the elections. And what's important is that the democratic progress -- process is continuing to move forward. The Iraqi people have shown time and time again that they are going to defy the terrorists, and those Saddam loyalists who want to return to the past -- or those terrorists who want to deny them the right to live in freedom. The Iraqi people want to live in freedom. And so it's a good sign that you're seeing all these reports about more and more people engaging in the political process, and realizing the political process and democracy is the way forward to a brighter future -- a future that is built on an inclusive representative government that protects the rights of all. That's very -- that stands in very stark contrast to the past.

    Q Secondly, have you seen Howard Dean's comments this morning? Do you see that as a clarification of what he said --

    MR. McCLELLAN: As a clarification? What was his clarification, that his comments that we can't win in Iraq were taken a little out of context?

    Q Yes.

    MR. McCLELLAN: I think it highlights the problems within the Democratic Party. You have a lot of disarray and disagreement within the Democratic Party. You have some that are advocating like he is, to -- that we can't win and that we should cut and run and retreat. You have some that are trying to score political points off the situation on the ground or off media reports. And then you have a few within the Democratic Party, like Senator Lieberman, who understand the stakes that are involved in Iraq, and understand the importance of winning and know that we will win. They have great confidence in our troops, and they know that our troops will succeed. And what the President is emphasizing is a plan for victory, and a way to get there. And what others are emphasizing is immediate withdrawal of troops, or artificial timetables. That's a plan for defeat.

    Q Is Senator Lieberman getting a holiday invitation to the ranch by any chance? (Laughter.)

    MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead. Q Or to the Pentagon? Q Scott, two questions -- one, now, as far as the Iraq elections, as you say, coming next week, and Saddam Hussein is on trial. It seems to me it's a drama, not a trial, because defendant is laughing, enjoying, having fun, and he still thinks that he's the President of Iraq. My question is that he bribed thousands of people, elite or the cream of the -- "top of the cream" people around the globe, including the Foreign Minister of India, who just resigned, and he was fired by the Indian government. And why other leaders, or top leaders around the world have not come out -- who got billions of dollars from Saddam? And second, he's a man who brutally murdered his two son-in-laws in front of his daughters, and killing millions of others in Iraq, my question is that, where are we going from here? Now he's still in -- he still think that he's in power, and now we are moving forward with elections and free Iraq.

    MR. McCLELLAN: -- a free and democratic Iraq, an Iraq that is an ally in the war on terrorism, and an Iraq that will help inspire other reformers in the broader Middle East, whether it's in Iran or Syria, or elsewhere, and help us lay the foundations of peace for generations to come. And that's why it's so important that we succeed in Iraq.

    I would like to go a little bit back to what I was talking to Steve about on some of the comments that have been made, because I think what you're seeing within the Democratic Party is that to a large extent, there's the liberal base driving Democrats into some of these positions that they're taking. Some feel that -- maybe that supported us going into Iraq in the first place, some feel a need to try to appease that portion of their party by going out and attacking us. And they're trying to have it both ways. Then you have some that are being driven to the position that we should cut and run, that we should retreat in the face of an historic opportunity to achieve significant gains in the Middle East and achieve lasting peace. And I think that's what's happening here.

    But there's -- reports are coming out saying that they're trying to search for an alternative or some sort of plan. The President has a very clear plan. It is a strategy to help us win in Iraq and to help us succeed by spreading freedom in the broader Middle East and lay the foundations of peace for a long time to come. And that's why this is so important to the broader war on terrorism. We see the letters from Zawahiri to Zarqawi, which talk about how they want to drive America out of the Middle East -- that's their goal -- so that they can establish a safe haven in the Middle East from which they can plan attacks against America, from which they can try to topple moderate governments in the broader Middle East. And we are fighting the terrorists there in Iraq so that we don't have to fight them here at home.

    And we are going to win. That's the President's message. That's his message to our troops, that's his message to the enemy. The enemy has said this will be a significant blow to their ambitions if we let America succeed in the broader Middle East and we don't drive them out.

    Q My second question is -- MR. McCLELLAN: Let me go on to Elaine. Go ahead.

    Q Thank you. Scott, on the issue of torture, now that Secretary Rice has come out and said the United States will not permit cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by all U.S. personnel, will the President still veto the McCain amendment?

    MR. McCLELLAN: Well, on the McCain amendment, that's something that we're working very closely with Senator McCain and other congressional leaders on right now. What we emphasized previously is that we face a lot of difficult issues in this different kind of war that we're engaged in, and what we're doing is trying to find a good solution. And that's where it is at this point.


    Red Cross: Still kept from some U.S. detainees

    GENEVA (AP) — The international Red Cross on Friday renewed its demand that it be allowed to visit all detainees in "undisclosed locations" after a senior State Department official confirmed the United States has yet to grant the agency access to all its terror suspects.  Red Cross President Jakob Kellenberger says he has been urging U.S. officials for full detainee access.

    ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger was commenting on a remark Thursday by State Department legal adviser John Bellinger III, who was asked by reporters during a visit to Geneva whether the ICRC has access to all other similar prisoners held by the United States elsewhere in the world. Bellinger replied, "No," and declined to say any more.

    Kellenberger noted that he has been urging top U.S. officials for at least two years to make sure the ICRC, which is assigned under the Geneva Conventions on warfare to check on conditions of detainees, gains access to all detainees held by the United States.

    "We continue to be in intense dialogue with them with the aim of getting access to all people detained in the framework of the so-called war on terror without any geographical limitation," Kellenberger said.

    He said the ICRC was are already visiting "very many detainees" being held by the United States "in Guantanamo, in Afghanistan, in Iraq," but he declined to say where else the ICRC believed the United States was holding detainees.

    Kellenberger, asked whether the ICRC had visited any secret U.S. detention facilities in Europe, said, "No."

    After Kellenberger made his comments, a State Department spokesman in Washington said the United States did not allow Red Cross access to some detainees under U.S. control.

    "We do not consider under the Geneva Convention those members of al-Qaeda as covered by the Geneva Convention," spokesman Adam Ereli said. "But at the same time, even though we're not legally required to do so, we do provide access to the vast majority of detainees under our control. There are some, however, that we do not.

    Kellenberger noted that the ICRC issued a statement in January 2004 as he concluded meetings with top U.S. officials in Washington, including then-Secretary of State Colin Powell and then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

    "Beyond Guantanamo, the ICRC is increasingly concerned about the fate of an unknown number of people captured as part of the so-called global war on terror and held in undisclosed locations," the 2004 ICRC statement said. "Mr. Kellenberger echoed previous official requests from the ICRC for information on these detainees and for eventual access to them."

    The Council of Europe, the continent's top human rights watchdog, has launched an investigation. EU leaders say any member states found to have been involved could have their voting rights suspended.

    Poland and Romania have been identified by the New York-based Human Rights Watch as sites of possible CIA secret prisons in Europe, but both countries have repeatedly denied any involvement.

    Bellinger said the United States "would dearly love to deny many of the allegations" about secret prisons in Europe, but had decided that it cannot comment on some intelligence activities — "even to deny those things that are clearly wrong" — and not on others.

    "So it's quite difficult, because it does leave publics thinking that the United States is doing things that it is not, in certain cases," he added. "All of our public expect that our intelligence activities ... will be carried out in secret."

    More than a half-dozen investigations are underway into whether European countries may have hosted secret U.S.-run prisons, and whether European airports and airspace were used for CIA flights in which prisoners were tortured or transported to countries where torture is practiced.

    The Washington Post first reported the alleged existence of secret prisons in eastern Europe and other countries last month.