Following media reports that US army personnel have been charged with torturing detainees, the news service Ekklesia has pointed out that Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) presented the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq with a dossier of statistical data about this four months ago. Only now have US soldiers at a prison outside Baghdad been charged with forcing Iraqi prisoners into acts of sexual humiliation and other abuses - documented by photographs taken by guards in the prison. Some of the images, and descriptions of others, were broadcast in the US on Wednesday by a CBS television news program and verified by military officials. Of the six people reported in March to be facing preliminary charges, three have been recommended for courts martial. Brigadier-General Janis Karpinski, in charge of prisons in Iraq, has also been suspended. At the time that Christian Peacemaker Teams presented the Coalition authority with the dossier, an American soldier is said to have also alerted superior officers to the abuses saying: "There are some things going on that I can't live with." But staff Sgt Chip Frederick claimed civilian observers, FBI and CIA agents and senior officers turned a blind eye and even encouraged some of the abuses. Several accused soldiers claimed they had been told to "soften up" the prisoners for interrogation. CPT, has maintained an almost continuous presence in Iraq from October 25, 2002 and followed the cases of numerous Iraqis detainees. Between May 31 and December 20, 2003, CPT Iraq conducted dozens of interviews of Iraqi detainees and/or their families and support networks. In evidence presented to the CPA they highlighted that often these detentions involved acts of violence, as well as theft and destruction of personal property. They also highlighted the lack of legal representation or clear judicial process. Such actions, said CPT, were violations of Iraqis' human rights according to international law and fuelled violent responses which endangered the lives of the Coalition soldiers who occupy Iraq. A television program on CBS has now reported that poorly trained US reservists were forcing Iraqis to conduct simulated sexual acts in order to break down their will before they were turned over to others for interrogation. In one photograph naked Iraq prisoners stand in a human pyramid, one with a slur written on his skin in English. In another, a prisoner stands on a box, his head covered, wires attached to his body. The report said that, according to the army, he had been told if he fell off the box he would be electrocuted. Other photographs show male prisoners positioned to simulate sex with each other. "The pictures show Americans, men and women, in military uniforms, posing with naked Iraqi prisoners," a transcript said. "And in most of the pictures, the Americans are laughing, posing, pointing or giving the camera a thumbs-up." The programme's producers said the army also had photographs showing a detainee with wires attached to his genitals and another that showed a dog attacking a prisoner. The photographs were taken inside Abu Ghraib prison, near Baghdad, where US forces are holding hundreds of Iraqis. Gary Myers, the lawyer for one of the enlisted men who has been charged, said the military had treated the six enlisted soldiers as scapegoats and had failed to deal adequately with the responsibilities of senior commanders and intelligence personnel involved in the interrogations. Officers at the prison, including a brigadier-general, faced administrative review, officials said. Mr Myers said the accused men, all from a reserve military police unit, were told to soften up the prisoners by more senior interrogators, some of whom they believe were intelligence officials and outside contractors. "This case involves a monumental failure of leadership, where lower level enlisted people are being scapegoated," Mr Myers said. "The real story is not in these six young enlisted people. The real story is the manner in which the intelligence community forced them into this position." The CPT dossier containing details and testimonies of the torture of Iraqi detainees, can be read at: www.cpt.org/iraq/iraq.php
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