Magazine: US Soldier Says Torture Encouraged
Published on Sunday, August 29, 2004 by Reuters
Magazine: US Soldier Says Torture Encouraged

BERLIN - A U.S. soldier expected to plead guilty to charges of abusing Iraqi prisoners told a German magazine he deeply regretted his actions but said the abuses were encouraged by military intelligence services.

Staff Sgt. Ivan Frederick told the weekly Der Spiegel conditions in Baghdad's Abu Ghraib jail were a "nightmare" with no clear line of command and conflicting demands placed on junior soldiers with insufficient training.

"I didn't know at all who was actually in charge," he said, according to a German translation of his remarks.

"The battalion wanted one thing from you, the company wanted something else and the secret service had their own ideas. It was just chaos," he said.

The abuse and torture of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib caused worldwide outrage when photographs of the incidents emerged earlier this year.

A special army investigation acknowledged last week that torture had occurred and more soldiers may face trial, although so far only Frederick and six other military police reservists serving at Abu Ghraib have been charged.

Frederick said after a pretrial hearing in Germany last week he would plead guilty to some charges including assault, cruelty and indecent acts at a court martial on October 20.

"I want to apologize to the victims and their families. And in the trial, I will accept responsibility for my actions. But I hope others will follow my example," he said.

He said a notorious incident in which he was involved where naked Iraqi prisoners were photographed piled up into a pyramid occurred after a female U.S. soldier was struck in the face with a stone by a prisoner.

"First we searched them, got them stripped naked and then pushed them into this pyramid -- and then everything got out of control," he said. "One of the methods was to humiliate them so that they would break down and talk."

"I know today that I was wrong. On the one hand I was full of rage that this prisoner had injured a soldier. And they'd told me 'humiliate them'. On the other hand, no one explained in detail, how we should do it."

Frederick, a prison official in civilian life, said he had received no special training in treating military prisoners and was encouraged by intelligence officers to break prisoners down for interrogation, by any means.

"The secret service set no limits at all. It was about concrete results and they weren't interested how they were achieved," he said, adding that many more people should be called to account for the abuses in Abu Ghraib.

"There are definitely more people responsible for what occurred in Abu Ghraib, and many of them have not been charged."

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