WASHINGTON — In a twist on the photography that inflamed the Abu Ghraib
prison abuse scandal, a separate group of U.S. soldiers in Iraq shot a video of
themselves beating prisoners and using the hand of a dead Iraqi to "wave
hello," according to documents released Friday.
The DVD, which soldiers derisively titled "Ramadi Madness" in reference
to a turbulent city in Iraq's Sunni Triangle, prompted an internal Army investigation
of the Florida National Guard troops from West Palm Beach who were involved.
The video was brought to the attention of Army supervisors by a civilian public
affairs employee in Florida who expressed disgust after viewing the scenes of
soldiers reveling among beaten and dead Iraqi combatants.
The internal investigation determined that the footage "contained inappropriate
rather than criminal behavior," according to military records. Investigators
later determined that the DVD had been destroyed by an officer who learned of
the internal investigation. According to the American Civil Liberties Union,
no criminal charges were ever filed.
The investigation was among thousands of new pages of military documents the
ACLU obtained in a lawsuit seeking information on detention practices. The Army
turned over the information to the ACLU, also releasing the documents Friday
to reporters at the Pentagon. The ACLU issued descriptions of the documents.
The ACLU said the descriptions of the video and other new Army documents raised
fresh concerns about whether the military was seriously concerned about prisoner
abuse, nearly a year after the first revelations that prison guards and interrogators
had mistreated detainees at the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib compound near Baghdad.
"Pieces of the puzzle are still missing," said ACLU Executive Director
Anthony D. Romero, noting that none of the Pentagon's top civilian officials
had been implicated or punished. "An outside special counsel is the only
way to ensure that all civilians who violated, or conspired to violate, the
laws are held responsible for their crimes."
The Pentagon has resisted an outside review but said Friday that it would deal
with deficiencies in its prison facilities.
"The Army remains committed to addressing identified problems in detainee
operations," Army officials said in a prepared statement.
According to the files, the DVD was a recording of Florida National Guard activities
in Iraq between 2003 and 2004. The soldiers were identified as being from B
Company, 1st Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment.
The scenes included shots of soldiers kicking a prisoner wearing plastic handcuffs
who was on the ground and moaning after apparently being shot in the abdomen.
He had been shot after allegedly wielding a gun against American soldiers during
a raid, the Army documents said. According to the ACLU, the prisoner later died.
In another scene on the DVD, a soldier appeared to be hitting a bound prisoner
on the head with a rifle butt as interrogators were attempting to question him.
The prisoner was apparently detained for throwing rocks at a U.S. military convoy,
according to the descriptions.
One soldier told interrogators that the rifle-butting was staged and that the
prisoner was never struck.
A third scene showed a soldier trying to wave the hand of a dead Iraqi at the
camera after the Iraqi had been shot to death in a truck at an American checkpoint.
The soldier told investigators he was repositioning the body because there was
concern over a possible missile inside the truck.
Another scene reportedly showed soldiers yelling profanities at Iraqi civilians
while on what was described as a joyride in a van normally used for carrying