Soldier's Family Set in Motion Chain of Events on Disclosure
By JAMES DAO and ERIC LICHTBLAU
Published: May 8, 2004
CUMBERLAND, Md., May 7 — Ivan Frederick was distraught. His son, an Army reservist turned prison guard in Iraq, was under investigation earlier this year for mistreating prisoners, and photographs of the abuse were beginning to circulate among soldiers and military investigators.
So the father went to his brother-in-law, William Lawson, who was afraid that reservists like his nephew would end up taking the fall for what he considered command lapses, Mr. Lawson recounted in an interview on Friday. He knew whom to turn to: David Hackworth, a retired colonel and a muckraker who was always willing to take on the military establishment. Mr. Lawson sent an e-mail message in March to Mr. Hackworth's Web site and got a call back from an associate there in minutes, he said.
That e-mail message would put Mr. Lawson in touch with the CBS News program "60 Minutes II" and help set in motion events that led to the public disclosure of the graphic photographs and an international crisis for the Bush administration.
It is still not entirely clear who leaked the photos and how they got into the hands of a "60 Minutes II" producer. What is clear, however, is that the furor over the photos is unlikely to dissipate any time soon.
And it may only get worse.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld disclosed Friday that there were "many more photos" and videos of abuse that have not yet become public. And he acknowledged in Senate testimony that the military might have mishandled the affair by not alerting members of Congress and the public to the growing seriousness of the military's investigation into the abuses before the images became public on "60 Minutes II."
"I wish I had been able to convey to them the gravity of this before we saw it in the media," Mr. Rumsfeld said.
The irony, Mr. Lawson said, is that the public spectacle might have been avoided if the military and the federal government had been responsive to his claims that his nephew was simply following orders. Mr. Lawson said he sent letters to 17 members of Congress about the case earlier this year, with virtually no response, and that he ultimately contacted Mr. Hackworth's Web site out of frustration, leading him to cooperate with a consultant for "60 Minutes II."
"The Army had the opportunity for this not to come out, not to be on 60 Minutes," he said. "But the Army decided to prosecute those six G.I.'s because they thought me and my family were a bunch of poor, dirt people who could not do anything about it. But unfortunately, that was not the case."
Many of the incriminating photographs appear to have been taken on a digital camera by a soldier in the 372nd Military Police Company who is now facing a court-martial. From there, they appear to have circulated among military personnel in Iraq via e-mail and computer disks, and some may have found their way to family members in the United States.
But there are still numerous unresolved questions about the photographs. One is why they were taken. Some officials suggest that soldiers wanted the photographs as souvenirs, but some relatives said they believed that the photographs were going to be shown to other prisoners to pressure their cooperation.
Then there is the question of how the photographs became public.
Lt. Gen. Lance Smith, deputy commander of forces in the region, testifying Friday before Congress, said he was still unclear how that happened. "It was a surprise that it got out," General Smith said.
Military officials were aware of two disks with photographs on them that were part of continuing investigations, one in Iraq and another in Washington, he said.
"That was the limit of the pictures, and we thought we had them all," General Smith said.
Producers at "60 Minutes II" are not saying exactly how they got the photographs. But Jeff Fager, the executive producer, said, "We heard about someone who was outraged about it and thought that the public should know about it."
Digital cameras have become so ubiquitous in the military that many relatives of personnel in the 372nd and other units in Iraq said they routinely received photographs by e-mail. But the photographs were usually tourist-type photographs of smiling sons and daughters, relatives said.
Officials said that the photographs showing psychological or physical abuse numbered in the hundreds, perhaps more than 1,000, with Mr. Rumsfeld hinting Friday that more may come out.
Among some prison personnel in Iraq, the photographs were apparently an open secret. "Some soldiers in Iraq had them — I'm hearing that soldiers were showing them to everybody," Mr. Lawson said. He said he did not have the original photos and did not turn them over to anyone.
The photographs have now turned soldiers like Mr. Lawson's nephew, Staff Sgt. Ivan Frederick, and Pfc. Lynndie R. England into graphic symbols of military abuse. But for Mr. Lawson, they are evidence of a complete breakdown in training and authority in the Iraqi prison system.
He shared his frustration in his March 23 e-mail message to Mr. Hackworth's Web site, writing: "We have contacted the Red Cross, Congress both parties, Bill O'Reilly and many others. Nobody wants to touch this."
Less than five weeks later, images of his nephew — interviewed on "60 Minutes II" with Mr. Lawson's help — would be shown around the world. Far from untouchable, the story would become unavoidable.
Private Charged by Military
FORT BRAGG, N.C., May 7 (AP) — Pfc. Lynndie R. England of the Army, shown in photographs smiling and pointing at naked Iraqi prisoners, was charged Friday by the military with assaulting the detainees and conspiring to mistreat them.
Private England, 21, is accused of "assaulting Iraqi detainees on multiple occasions;" conspiring with another soldier, Specialist Charles A. Graner Jr., to mistreat the prisoners; committing an indecent act; and committing acts "that were prejudicial to good order and discipline and were of nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces through her mistreatment of Iraqi detainees."
Private England was reassigned to a military police unit at Fort Bragg when she returned from Iraq, the Army statement said. Her family said Friday that she was four months pregnant with Specialist Graner's child.
These people are idiots. They knew what they were doing is wrong. LOAC training was a yearly requirment when i was in and before getting deployed we received another big LOAC briefing that covered just about everything under the sun.
They are trying to cover their asses by saying that they didnt receiver set orders on how to deal with these situations. You dont need set orders when the rule has already been spelled out to you loud and clear on multiple occasions.
Then you have the people who think everyone in the chain of command knew about it. They assume that just because someone is in charge they know down to the last nut and bolt whats going on. Thats not the case even with good commanders. I could go on and on about the stuff i did that was against the rules when i was in. No one besides me and the other people involved know about.
Mr. Lawson said he sent letters to 17 members of Congress about the case earlier this year... (BEFORE he contacted Hackworth and CBS!!!)
We need to know who those 17 members of Congress were!!! If a single one of them was someone on the Armed Services Committee, we need to expose that.
....and check this out
I have the impression that the Army was hoping this mess would just go away. They are trying to shield the higher ranking NCO's, officers and civilian contractors that probably encouraged these retards to conduct this abuse and then photograph it for use in their sessions. They were going to screw over a few privates and hope it went away. This is not a "failure in leadership", it is a total fvcking breakdown in leadership and a public relations disaster of gigantic scale and scope. These retards do not seem to have grasped that public opinion and support for the war, the president and the military in general is slipping into the toilet.
The fact that they have not "discovered" a single senior NCO, contractor or officer who had any idea this was happening has got to make you wonder what the hell was going on in this place. Was it a prison ran by a 20 y/o hillbilly chick and her dipshit boyfriend? How fvcking stupid do they think the world is these days?
This mess will turn the war into a complete waste of life, time and money, it is already causing people to second guess their efforts to be kind to deployed troops. It may cost Bush his fvcking job and that will mean an executive order banning assault rifles at the end of January by Adolf Kerry. We are going to get royally screwed by this crap. Worse yet, I get the impression that we are all going to get tarred with the same brush, when I get off active duty the Algore fucks at my civilian job will ride my ass about this for a year. This sucks.
Nobody even cares anymore that we have a US soldier and dozens of civilian hostages missing, that al' Sadr has called for captured British and American women to be kept as slaves and concubines and that a month ago they were dragging american bodies thru the streets. Nobody gives a shit, that the objective of this whole exercise was to create a democracy in Iraq and let these animals govern themselves. A good civil war would make the place easier to goven anyway, most of the trouble makers would get killed off.
With any luck, they will add a chapter to the US Army big book of tactics. They can call it "What the hell do we do once we got it?" They can follow it with a chapter on prisons called, "Why we dont let hillbillies and retards from the CIA run our prisons."
Going into Iraq with no plan for the post Saddam era, no police force, no intel of any use and no media support to broadcast our "peaceful intentions" to the public ,was the stupidest idea in the history of war. Everyday we get ridden into the ground on the news over here, in every country in europe. Whats even worse is that they are right. We didnt find jackshit for WMD's, we didn't find Osama, we proclaimed it was for the greater good and to ease oppression and now we have dipshits doing homosexual things to prisoners and photographing it. Saddam is going to get a Nobel Peace prize before Bush.
"I Vas Juzt followink ordurz".....doesn't work anymore.
Wait a minute........RUBY RIDGE........WACO..........Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm
"I Vas Juzt followink ordurz".....DOES WORK!.......if you're the ATF or the FBI!!!!!!!!