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Iraq horrors in US army report
Unveiled: sodomy, beatings

Washington, May 2 (Reuters): Iraqi prisoners faced numerous “sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses” by US soldiers, including sodomy and beatings, according to a US army report quoted by the New Yorker magazine.

The New Yorker said it had obtained a 53-page, internal US military report into alleged abuses at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad. In an article posted on its website yesterday, the magazine said the report had been authorised by Lt Gen Ricardo Sanchez, the top US officer in Iraq, and was completed in February.

The May 10 issue of the magazine goes on sale tomorrow.

The army report listed abuses such as “breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees; ... beating detainees with a broom handle and a chair; threatening male detainees with rape; allowing a military police guard to stitch the wound of a detainee who was injured after being slammed against the wall in his cell; sodomising a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick”.

Written by Maj-Gen. Antonio Taguba, the report said evidence included “detailed witness statements and the discovery of extremely graphic photographic evidence.”

Pentagon spokesperson Bryan Whitman declined to comment on the article, but said, “We take all reports of detainee abuse seriously and all allegations are thoroughly investigated.”

He said that when incidents of abuse came to light earlier this year, the army immediately ordered an investigation, and Sanchez ordered a separate probe to ensure such incidents were not widespread in the military detention system in Iraq.

The deputy commander of the US army’s intelligence force is heading an investigation into interrogation practices at the Iraqi prison, The Washington Post reported in its Sunday edition.

News of the military report came days after photographs showing abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US troops were published and broadcast around the globe.

The photos showed US troops smiling, posing, laughing or giving the thumbs-up sign as naked, male Iraqi prisoners were stacked in a pyramid or positioned to simulate sex acts with one another.

President George W. Bush said on Friday he was deeply disgusted but only a “few people” were to blame. He defended the conduct of the occupation forces as the White House tried to head off a backlash in Iraq and across the Arab world.

British newspaper the Daily Mirror also published pictures that it said showed British soldiers apparently urinating on a shackled Iraqi prisoner of war. Prime Minister Tony Blair said yesterday that abuse of Iraqi prisoners was “completely and totally unacceptable.”

Foreign secretary Jack Straw said today a high level investigation was underway, but sources close to the regiment concerned raised doubts over the authenticity of the images.

But the BBC later quoted sources close to the regiment as saying aspects of the photographs did not ring true. They said the type of rifle and floppy hats pictured were not used by troops in Iraq, and the type of truck shown in the background had not been deployed there.

The Mirror said it obtained the photographs from two unidentified soldiers in the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment.

US officials said on Thursday that the military was weighing disciplinary action against Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who was in charge of the Abu Ghraib prison, a centre of torture and executions under toppled President Saddam Hussein’s government.

Karpinski told The New York Times yesterday she was “sickened” by the pictures and suspected those involved acted with the encouragement of intelligence units that ran the high-security cellblock where the abuses took place.

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