Iraqi Prisoner Abuse New Images of Torture from Abu Ghraib
New images from Abu Ghraib broadcast in Australia show a new scope of the torture committed by American soldiers at the Iraqi prison. With the daily protests in the Middle East over anti-Muhammad cartoons, the timing could not be worse.
An Australian television network on Wednesday broadcast previously unseen images of torture at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. The photos and video stills, taken in 2003, are almost certain to spark a renewed debate over the torture of prisoners by United States soldiers.
The newly released images, broadcast on the Special Broadcasting Service's "Dateline," program are much more graphic than those which have previously been shown. One shows a naked prisoner hanging upside down from his bunk bed. Another shows a man holding his severely burned arm, injuries he claims were inflicted by American soldiers at Abu Ghraib.
Even more disturbing are images showing a prisoner with a slit throat and another of a prisoner lying on a bloody stretcher with severe head wounds, allegedly after having been tortured by US troops. Another depicts an abused detainee apparently left to die on the grounds of the prison. Yet another shows a prisoner with 12 non-lethal gunshot wounds to his buttocks. Others show prisoners smeared in feces.
The pictures were allegedly taken at the same time as the photos previously released from the prison.
The images come at a time when the Arab world is already in an uproar over disparaging cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad published in a Danish newspaper and later republished in other newspapers across Europe.
"Dateline" producers claim that the new pictures were shown to members of the US Congress in 2004. The images of the "horrors" of torture at Abu Ghraib shocked those who saw them. The American Civil Liberties Union recently successfully sued to get access to images from Abu Ghraib but has not yet obtained those broadcast in Australia and later re-broadcast by Al-Jazeera. However, SBS producers said they were confident of their source and that the images are consistent with those described in US Army reports into the abuses.
In Washington, the Pentagon condemned the broadcast. Spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters the abuses at Abu Ghraib have been fully investigated and that official United States policy is to treat prisoners "humanely". "When there have been abuses, this department has acted upon them promptly, investigated them thoroughly and where appropriate prosecuted individuals," he said. So far, he said, 25 people have been prosecuted as a result of criminal acts committed at the prison. He also warned that the release of further images could be dangerous.
"The department believes that a further release of images could only further inflame and possibly incite unnecessary violence in the world and would endanger our military men and women that are serving around the world," Whitman said.