Pentagon releases photos of alleged detainee abuse

Pentagon releases photos of alleged detainee abuse
The Pentagon on Friday released a small portion of photographs showing injuries suffered by detainees allegedly at the hands of US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan over a decade ago.
3 min read
06 February, 2016
Allegations of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison by US forces erupted in 2003 [Getty]
The Pentagon released nearly 200 photographs of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan, taken mostly between 2004 and 2006, involving 56 cases of alleged abuse by US forces.

The mostly dark, blurry and grainy pictures are mainly of detainees' arms and legs, revealing bruises and cuts, and they appear far less dramatic than those released more than a decade ago during allegations of torture at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

Those now-infamous Abu Ghraib photos included images of naked detainees stacked in a human pyramid or of a soldier holding a naked detainee by a dog collar and leash.

Criminal investigations substantiated abuse in 14 of the cases linked to the 198 newly released photos, and determined that 42 allegations were not valid, the Pentagon said.

Sixty-five service members were disciplined in connection with the cases.

The photos were released in response to a Freedom of Information request from the American Civil Liberties Union [ACLU].

Defence Secretary Ash Carter and other military leaders reviewed a number of unreleased photos and determined that 198 could be made public, the Pentagon said.

The reviews are required every three years.

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According to the ACLU, there are as many as 2,000 photographs that the government has not released.

"The disclosure of these photos is long overdue, but more important than the disclosure is the fact that hundreds of photographs are still being withheld," said ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer.

"The still-secret pictures are the best evidence of the serious abuses that took place in military detention centres," Jaffer said.

The still-secret pictures are the best evidence of the serious abuses that took place in military detention centres
- Jameel Jaffer, ACLU

"The government's selective disclosure risks misleading the public about the true extent of the abuse," he added.

Allegations of physical and sexual abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad erupted in 2003, spawning a series of investigations and studies to determine the extent of the problem.

But the photos released on Friday do not involve incidents at Abu Ghraib or at the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Pentagon officials said.

In 2009, the Obama administration was set to release the photographs but refrained stating that to do so "was of no benefit" and may fuel opinion against the US.

US soldiers had been implicated in the torture of Iraqi prisoners at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison when the US military ran it in 2004, a scandal that first broke when photos showing soldiers abusing detainees were published in American media.

The abuses include sexual humiliation, physical and sexual abuse, rape, torture, and murder.

Last year, the man in the most famous image from the abuse scandal gave an exclusive interview to The New Arab, describing his harrowing ordeal during his detention.

Between 2004 and 2006, 11 soldiers, including Lynndie England, who was seen smiling beside naked prisoners being subjected to sexual abuse, were convicted in court martials.

Agencies contributed to this report