Senator Seeks Inquiry Into Abuse Report
Monday, August 9, 2004; Page A05
PORTLAND, Ore., Aug. 8 -- A senator sent the Pentagon a letter Sunday
seeking an investigation into a report that U.S. soldiers were ordered
to abandon an effort to prevent Iraqi jailers from abusing prisoners.
The request from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) to Defense Secretary Donald H.
Rumsfeld followed a report by the Oregonian newspaper that guardsmen saw
dozens of Iraqi prisoners being abused on June 29, one day after Iraq's
interim government assumed power.
The newspaper reported Sunday that Oregon National Guard soldiers tried
to stop Iraqi jailers from abusing the prisoners but were ordered to
return the prisoners to the jailers and leave.
Wyden said the incident suggests that "the policy of the U.S. is that we
will no longer engage in torture, but we will turn a blind eye as it is
committed by others."
A Defense Department spokesman said officials will respond to the letter
as soon as "the facts surrounding this incident can be determined."
"Any reports of torture or abuse are investigated thoroughly," said Navy
Lt. Cmdr. Alvin "Flex" Plexico at the Pentagon.
The newspaper had a reporter with the Oregon National Guard 2nd
Battalion, 162nd Infantry, when a soldier spotted a man beating a
prisoner in a courtyard near the Iraqi Interior Ministry.
Members of that unit later saw other prisoners who appeared to have been
beaten and items that could have been used to torture them, including
metal rods, rubber hoses, electrical wires and bottles of chemicals. The
incident occurred after Iraqi officials announced a crackdown on crime.