Sat, Jun 12, 2004 - Page 7 News List

Dog handlers said to have held Abu Ghraib contests

COMPETITION Military sources have told a US newspaper that guards vied to see who could make more prisoners urinate on themselves

AFP , WASHINGTON

High-ranking US intelligence officers at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison ordered guards to use unmuzzled dogs to intimidate prisoners, The Washington Post said yesterday, quoting sworn statement by dog handlers at the jail.

Two handlers even had a contest to see who could use their dogs to frighten more Iraqi prisoners into urinating on themselves, a military intelligence interrogator told investigators, according to the statements obtained by the daily.

Seven soldiers have been charged with the widely photographed prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, which included pictures of snarling dogs being held inches from recoiling, kneeling prisoners with their hands tied behind their backs.

two-star general

Despite the soldier's insistence that they were following orders, no military officer has been charged in the abuse scandal.

The statements obtained by the Post appear to be the first clear indication that some prisoner abuse was authorized by personnel of higher rank.

Sergeants Michael Smith and Santos Cardona, both dog handlers at the notorious prison near Baghdad, told investigators that in December and January military intelligence personnel requested several times that they bring their dogs to help in questioning detainees.

In their statements they named Colonel Thomas Pappas, the top military intelligence officer at Abu Ghraib, as having told them that the use of dogs in interrogations had been approved.

Pappas later told investigators that the use of unmuzzled dogs in interrogation sessions had been recommended by a two-star general and that it was "okay," the daily said.

working dogs

Army memos on interrogation techniques obtained by the Post indicated that military working dogs were allowed to be used, as long as higher-ranking officers approved the measures.

However, the daily added, the memorandums did not specify exactly what the dogs could do or whether they should be muzzled or not.

A human rights expert consulted by the daily said that frightening prisoners with dogs was a violation of the Geneva Convention.

It was unclear from the article whether Smith and Cardona were the dog handlers who tried to get prisoners to urinate on themselves.

The dog teams at Abu Ghraib were part of a security detail that also searched for weapons, explosives and contraband.

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