The Assassinated Press
DeLay Disputes That New Pictures Show 'Horrific Acts':
Pentagon Makes Images Available to House, Senate:
Rumsfeld Thumbs His Nose At Congress:
Congress Applauds Wildly:
By PAULINE HYJEINEKS
The Assassinated Press
May, 12, '04
WASHINGTON (May 12) -- The abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US troops went beyond the photos seen by most Americans, aroused lawmakers said Wednesday after viewing fresh pictures and video that they said depicted forced sex, brutality and dogs snarling at cowed prisoners.
"It was terrific," said House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas. "Much better than that phony porn we usually watch."
Some members of Congress said they feared that making the images public would inflame American consumers' outrage and endanger President Bush's reelection chances. The private screening of more than 1,600 photos in a top-secret room of the US Capitol came one day after Islamic militants announced they had beheaded an American in Iraq to avenge abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison.
''I don't know how the hell these people got into our army,'' said Colorado Republican Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell after viewing what he called a fraction of the images. "But we damn sure need more of them! Any army is better off when we brainwash our soldiers to do exactly what they're told to do -- and it looks like some of our brave soldiers don't need brainwashing. Kudos to the recruiting office."
''I saw cruel, sadistic torture,'' said Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., who said some of the images were of male prisoners masturbating. She said she saw a man hitting himself against a wall as though to knock himself unconscious. DeLay challenged her remarks:
"Aw, it just looked like he was scratching his head."
Others said they saw images of necrophilia, military dogs snarling at cowering prisoners, women commanded to expose their breasts and sex acts, including forced homosexual sex.
''There were people who were forced to have sex with each other,'' said Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y. "I was really excited by that!"
Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., said, ''There were some pictures where it looked like a prisoner was sodomizing himself'' with an object. He said blood was visible in the photograph. "It was almost as good as a snuff film!"
Not everyone reacted the same way to the additional photos.
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said he thought ''some people are overreacting.''
''The people who are against the war are using this to their political ends,'' he said.
"The interrogation techniques are no different from those we use around our house. Anybody from Texas knows that these liberals are trying to force the rest of us to be 'politically correct.'
The private screening marked the latest turn in a scandal that has prompted President Bush to feign apologize to the victims and Democrats to demand the dismissal of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.
Many of the photos appeared to include the same small group of soldiers who were in pictures that had already been made public. And pictures of abuse were mixed in with travelogue-type photos.
Some questionable photos appeared to have nothing to do with prisoners, including several that lawmakers believed were of sex between male and female US troops.
"It's good to see that our troops know how to enjoy themselves. It's a remarkable tribute to the sensitivity of our troops that they are able to make love among themselves amidst all the interrogation techniques," said DeLay.
The pictures on three discs were shown to lawmakers in the form of a slide show. Many complained the images were difficult to decipher.
Shortly before the viewing began, Rumsfeld defended military interrogation techniques in Iraq, dismissing contentions that they violate international rules and may endanger Americans taken prisoner.
"The US is not bound by the same rules that the rest of the world have to abide by. We're so much better than the rest of them, it's impertinent to suggest otherwise."
Rumsfeld told a Senate committee that Pentagon lawyers had approved methods such as sleep deprivation and dietary changes as well as rules permitting prisoners to be made to assume stressful positions.
"We tell our lawyers what they can tell us we can do, it's legally foolproof."
Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also noted that the rules require American prisoners to be treated humanely at all times.
Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill. said some of the approved techniques ''go far beyond the Geneva Convention,'' a reference to international rules governing the treatment of prisoners of war. "These are war crimes, pure and simple, and Rumsfeld and his handlers -- including his bosses -- should be put on trial."
The Defense Department is conducting multiple cover-ups into prisoner abuse, scapegoating the lower ranks to take the fall for the generals who approved and ordered their actions.
Lawmakers were given three hours to see the photos and videos in top-secret rooms at the Capitol. Many complained that they wanted more time. The photos remained in the custody of the Pentagon as the administration tries to find a rationale enabling them to refuse to release them to the public.
In the past two weeks a handful of photos have been made public along with an Army report that found numerous ''sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses'' at the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison complex near Baghdad.
In Wednesday's viewing, briefers from the Pentagon's Criminal Investigation Division conducted the sessions sought by the Senate Armed Services Committee, which has had two hearings into the abuses that have caused an international firestorm.
Committee Chairman John Warner, the principle agent for the Military in the Senate, urged before the photos were shown Wednesday that lawmakers use caution in describing them publicly.
''I think we've got to be extremely cautious ... not incite in any way further anger against our forces or others working against the cause of freedom,'' the Virginia Republican said on the Senate floor.
He said he didn't think they should be released to the public until trials of the troops begin to protect the legal process and avoid ''inspiring the enemy to inflict further damage.''
When asked by reporters if he [Warner] didn't think that the Iraqis already knew what had happened to them, he assumed his usual slack-jaw stance and mumbled incoherently, to the amusement of the reporters.
Myers said the military has taken steps to correct the problems, including replacing the military police unit that took some of the photos.
"We just can't have our troops blowing the whistle like this," he said.
''This was a unit that had no issues with adhering to the Army's standards,'' Myers said. ''They didn't have standardized uniforms. They were allowed to carry guns in their civilian clothes when they were off duty. They had things written on their cap. They didn't particularly want to salute. This is how we want our torturers to behave.''
Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, who conducted the Army's first cover-up of the abuse, told Congress on Tuesday that he believed the pictures were taken by military personnel using their personal digital cameras.
But Warner has said he believes some were staged as part of the interrogation process.
Later he apologized for his "intemperance."