Abu Ghraib images are newly aired


WASHINGTON --An Australian television network yesterday broadcast previously unseen pictures of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib being mistreated by U.S. soldiers in 2003, scenes that the State Department said were "absolutely disgusting" but add little to what is known.

The videotapes and photographs of naked captives at the prison, west of Baghdad, were consistent with earlier images showing captives naked, with hoods over their heads and posed in sexual situations.

One video shows a handcuffed man pounding his head against a metal cell door.

Other pictures show him dangling upside down and naked from a top bunk and smeared with his own feces, according to the Dateline program at the network, the Special Broadcasting Service.

The prisoner was mentally ill and became a "plaything" for the guards, the SBS reported, according to the Associated Press in Sydney.

The network declined to say where it had obtained the pictures.

The State Department legal adviser, John B. Bellinger III, said the latest pictures "show once again just the reprehensible conduct that was going on in Abu Ghraib."

He noted that after the instances of abuse in late 2003 and their disclosure early in 2004, there had been public investigations, prosecutions and internal reviews. "And it's unfortunate, in fact, that these photographs are coming out further and fanning the flames," he said.

Images from the Australian broadcast were shown in the Middle East.

But critics of the Pentagon's handling of the episode said the latest disclosures confirmed the need for a truly independent investigation of abuses not only at Abu Ghraib but in Afghanistan and at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba.

The critics say only an outside inquiry can adequately look into possible wrongdoing up the entire chain of command.

Bill Goodman, the legal director for the Center for Constitutional Rights, said his organization would continue to sue the federal government to release all pertinent videotapes and photographs.

He rejected the State Department's suggestion that it would have been better for the images not to have been released, saying that attitude reflected a philosophy in the Bush administration that "the less information the people have, the better democracy operates."

The American Civil Liberties Union had a similar reaction. "We continue to see undeniable evidence that abuse and torture have been widespread and systematic, yet high-level government officials have not been held accountable for creating the policies that led to these atrocities," said Anthony D. Romero, the ACLU's executive director.

The prisoner abuse scandal has been acutely embarrassing for the U.S. military, whose members are required by regulation to treat prisoners with respect.

Two of the best-known defendants were Spc. Charles A. Graner Jr., convicted of being a ringleader in the abuse, and Pvt. Lynndie R. England, who was photographed mistreating naked Iraqis.

Graner was sentenced to 10 years in prison and demoted to private, while England was sentenced to three years in prison. Several other soldiers were imprisoned or dishonorably discharged.

Amnesty International says the latest pictures indicate that there might be more to the scandal than has been uncovered.

"The repulsive images released today give a clearer picture of the scope of the abuses perpetrated at Abu Ghraib and raise the question of what other abuses occurred there and elsewhere when cameras weren't present," said William F. Schulz, the organization's executive director. "Prosecutions of primarily lower-level military personnel create the impression that those on the front lines are the scapegoats for policy set at the top."

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