Military Police Officer Says Intelligence Officials Abused Prisoners

By David Dishneau Associated Press Writer
Published: Aug 6, 2004

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) - An Army reservist who saw naked detainees being humiliated at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq says military intelligence officials led and directed the abuse.
The account by Kenneth A. Davis, a former sergeant in the Maryland-based 372nd Military Police Company, conflicts with testimony soldiers gave this week at the pretrial hearing of Pfc. Lynndie England, one of seven members of the 372nd charged with abusing detainees.

Davis' account - in a May statement to Army investigators and in interviews this week with The Associated Press - makes him the first member of the unit who is not facing charges to publicly describe one of the episodes that led to criminal charges against others. No military intelligence personnel have been charged in the abuse, and their testimony at England's hearing points to the military police as the perpetrators.

Davis, 33, of Hagerstown, Md., said Friday that testimony given Thursday by Spc. Israel Rivera, an analyst with the 325th Military Intelligence Battalion, was "inaccurate."

Rivera testified that he watched military police force detainees to crawl naked "low enough that their genitalia were rubbing on the floor, causing pain." Rivera testified that he was disgusted by the abuse.

Davis gave a different account of the episode, blaming military intelligence soldiers. He and Rivera are among seven soldiers and a civilian interpreter photographed standing around three naked men shackled together on the floor of an Abu Ghraib corridor on Oct. 25. Davis said he happened upon the scene when he went looking for a soldier in a prison area where interrogations took place.

He said he found the soldier talking with Cpl. Charles A. Graner Jr., one of the reservists charged with abuse. Davis said he watched Spc. Armin J. Cruz and Spc. Roman Krol, also with the 325th Military Intelligence Battalion, handcuff two naked male detainees to the bars of two facing cells.

Davis said Cruz and Krol then handcuffed the naked men together face-to-face, forcing them to embrace while demanding that they confess to raping a boy in the prison. He said Cruz approached him and asked sarcastically, "Do you think we crossed the line?"

Davis said he replied, "I'm not sure - you are MI." He said Cruz told him the men were being interrogated and said, "We know what we are doing."

He said Rivera arrived shortly before a third detainee was brought in by Staff Sgt. Ivan L. "Chip" Frederick, another of the accused military police officers. Then Cruz and Krol threw water on the concrete floor and ordered the detainees to flatten themselves face-down and crawl across the floor with their elbows and forearms, Davis said. When the detainees tried to raise their hips, Cruz and Krol pushed them down, he said.

Davis said Rivera's testimony "absolutely blows my mind."

"It's amazing he's saying that because MI was laughing and pushing down in the middle of their backs," he said Friday. He said he did not recall seeing any military police officers forcing inmates to crawl.

In his written statement, Davis said he turned to Rivera, and asked, "Did you all ever consider that they guys (sic) are innocent?"

Davis said Rivera replied, "I've been doing this longer than you've been in the military. You know, sergeant, they are guilty."

Rivera described parts of the same episode Thursday at England's hearing and in a June 4 story in the Los Angeles Times. In the article, he implicated Cruz and Krol in the abuse but said military police officers initiated it.

Krol has denied engaging in improper conduct. Cruz did not respond to e-mailed requests for comment.

Col. Jill E. Morgenthaler, a public affairs officer for the Army in Baghdad, said Rivera, Cruz and Krol have not been charged. She declined to comment whether they are under investigation or on Davis' account.

Davis said he told his platoon leader, 1st Lt. Lewis C. Raeder, the next day that military intelligence soldiers were interrogating naked detainees. According to Davis' written statement, Raeder replied, "They are MI and they are in charge. Let them do their job."

The Army has admonished Raeder for not training his troops on the Geneva Convention's prohibition on mistreatment of prisoners of war and civilian detainees.

Davis shared his story privately in April with several members of the House Armed Services Committee. He said he spoke Wednesday to an Army prosecutor who told him he may be asked to testify at courts-martial in Baghdad.

Davis said he waited until the 372nd had returned from Iraq before speaking publicly. The Cresaptown-based unit returned on Monday to Fort Lee, Va., without the accused members.

Davis returned to the United States in December for treatment of a groin injury. He received an honorable discharge for disability on July 28.

AP-ES-08-06-04 1722EDT