Mar 142005
 

Sorry, but if this doesn’t make your blood cold and insite you to contact your representatives in Congress, then all is lost for this country.

What the hell have we become?

By MATT KELLEY, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – Children held by the U.S. Army at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison included one boy who appeared to be only about 8 years old, the former commander of the prison told investigators, according to a transcript.

"He looked like he was eight years old. He told me he was almost 12," Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski told officials investigating prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. "He told me his brother was there with him, but he really wanted to see his mother, could he please call his mother. He was crying."

Karpinski’s statement is among hundreds of pages of Army records about Abu Ghraib the American Civil Liberties Union released Thursday. The ACLU got the documents under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking records about abuse of detainees in Iraq.

Karpinski did not say what happened to the boy in her interview with Maj. Gen. George Fay. Military officials have previously acknowledged that some juvenile prisoners had been held at Abu Ghraib, a massive prison built by Saddam Hussein’s government outside Baghdad.

The transcript released Thursday is the first government document indicating that a child no older than 11 was held prisoner at Abu Ghraib.

Military officials have said that no juvenile prisoners were subject to the abuses captured in photographs from Abu Ghraib. However, some of the men shown being stripped naked and humiliated had been accused of raping a 14-year-old prisoner.

The documents released Thursday offer rare details about the children the U.S. military has held in Iraq. Karpinski said the Army began holding women and children in a high-security cellblock at Abu Ghraib in the summer of 2003 because the facility was better than lockups in Baghdad where they had been held.

The documents also include statements from six witnesses who said three interrogators and a civilian interpreter at Abu Ghraib got drunk one night and took a 17-year-old female prisoner from her cell. The four men forced the girl to expose her breasts and kissed her, the reports said. The witnesses ? whose names were blacked out of the documents given to the ACLU ? said those responsible were not punished.

Another soldier said in January 2004, troops poured water and smeared mud on the detained 17-year-old son of an Iraqi general and "broke" the general by forcing him to watch his son shiver in the cold.

On another subject, Karpinski said she had seen written orders to hold a prisoner that the CIA had captured without keeping records. The documents released by the ACLU also quote an unnamed Army officer at Abu Ghraib as saying military intelligence officers and the CIA worked out a written agreement on how to handle unreported detainees. An Army report issued last September said investigators could not find any copies of any such written agreement.

The Pentagon has acknowledged holding up to 100 "ghost detainees," keeping the prisoners off the books and away from humanitarian investigators from the International Committee of the Red Cross. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has defended the practice, saying he authorized it because the prisoners were "enemy combatants" not entitled to prisoner of war protections.

The ACLU sued Rumsfeld earlier this month on behalf of four Iraqis and four Afghans who say they were tortured at U.S. military facilities. Rumsfeld and his spokesmen have repeatedly said that the defense secretary and his aides never authorized or condoned any abuses.

Six enlisted soldiers have pleaded guilty to military charges for their roles in abuses at Abu Ghraib, and Pvt. Charles Graner Jr. was convicted at a court-martial earlier this year and sentenced to ten years in prison.

Karpinski ? one of the few generals to be criticized in Army detainee reports for poor leadership ? quoted several senior generals in Iraq as making callous statements about prisoners.

Karpinski said Maj. Gen. Walter Wodjakowski, then the No. 2 Army general in Iraq, told her in the summer of 2003 not to release more prisoners, even if they were innocent.

"I don’t care if we’re holding 15,000 innocent civilians. We’re winning the war," Karpinski said Wodjakowski told her. She said she replied: "Not inside the wire, you’re not, sir."

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