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January 14, 2005
Does This Sound Like It Was Ordered From On High?

The more that one hears of the testimony in Spc. Charles Graner's court-martial over the Abu Ghraib abuses, the less supportable that a high-level conspiracy to commit war crimes were at the heart of them. The New York Times manages to bury the relevant portions of the testimony near the bottom of their report:

Megan Ambuhl, who has been discharged from the military for taking part in the events seen in the photographs, said interrogators had ordered her to humiliate male detainees by pointing and laughing at them as they showered. Interrogators, she said, "encouraged us all the time."

"We were all going to save the lives of the soldiers who were outside the wires," she testified. "The detainees had information that the interrogators had to find out."

Questioned by the prosecution, Ms. Ambuhl acknowledged that she had been sexually involved with Specialist Graner for a month before the investigation began, and did not wish to see him convicted. She acknowledged, too, that military intelligence, or M.I., was not present for the photographs that show hooded and naked detainees forced to masturbate, form a pyramid or simulate oral sex.

"M.I. did not direct this, did they?" the lead prosecutor, Maj. Michael Holley asked. "No, sir," she replied.

The second defense witness called on Thursday, Sgt. Kenneth A. Davis, testified that on the night some of the most widely circulated photographs were taken, he discovered military intelligence soldiers and Specialist Graner handcuffing two naked detainees together in an embrace. He said he was told by one of the military intelligence soldiers, "We're M.I., and we know what we're doing." The detainees were told to crawl on the wet ground, Sergeant Davis said. He asked whether these were interrogation techniques, and was told by another military intelligence soldier, "There's different ways to get things done."

"It appeared that M.I. was calling the shots that night, and Graner was following," he said.

But under questioning from the prosecution, Sergeant Davis acknowledged that the military intelligence soldiers ranked below Specialist Graner - he was a corporal at the time - and that the detainees were not interrogated.

As I have stated in the past, the testimony and evidence demonstrate that the Abu Ghraib abuses came from a lack of discipline in the unit assigned to the particular duty at that time, as well as immaturity and inhumanity of the people involved. Every time someone assumes that military intelligence or the military brass conducted or ordered this treatment, the testimony and evidence always shows the opposite.

Why doesn't evidence collapsing the grand conspiracy theories of Abu Ghraib get more attention? After Memogate, I think we all know the answer to that question.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 14, 2005 2:00 PM

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