The military announced today that two more soldiers will be court martialed in connection with the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib jail.
Meanwhile, U.S. troops in Karbala engaged in a second consecutive day of fighting with the militia loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr, attacking a mosque that a military spokesman said was being used as a base of operations and killing 22 members of the militia.
In Washington, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld showed up for a Capitol Hill budget hearing and heard worried and, occasionally angry, senators fret openly and at length about the situation in Iraq, including the abuses at Abu Ghraib and more broadly about when the United States would complete its mission.
"We are only 42 days way from turning over this country to the Iraqi leadership, whatever that is," said Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.). "I can envision that this situation will not work, and that we won't have an organizational structure that will do anything other than have Americans fighting and us supplying those fighters with more and more money."
"Everybody said they're sorry about the Iraqi prison scandal," said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) "It's actually the first time in this long, protracted and rather strange policy I've heard any administration express regret about any mistake.
"Let me tell you a few things I'm sorry about," Leahy said, reeling off a list of complaints about the administration's handling of Iraq policy.
Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, tried several times to limit the discussion to budgetary matters but could not contain the broader questions and speeches by members.
Rumsfeld, accompanied by Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, responded to the criticism calmly, repeating statements they have made repeatedly during the past few weeks amid mounting dismay with U.S. conduct in Iraq.
The courts martial announced today by Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy director of operations for the military in Iraq, are the second and third to be ordered by the Army and could entail more severe penalties than the charges brought earlier against Spc. Jeremy C. Sivits, of Hyndman, Pa., who goes on trial May 19 before a special court-martial, which can only mete out a punishment of a year or less confinement.
Sgt. Javal S. Davis and Staff Sgt. Ivan L. Frederick III will be tried in general courts martial. Davis and Frederick were charged with conspiracy to maltreat subordinates, dereliction of duty for negligently failing to protect detainees from abuse, maltreatment of detainees, assault and rendering false official statements.
Additionally, according to Kimmitt, Frederick was charged with "wrongfully committing an indecent act by watching detainees commit a sexual act."
Both Davis and Frederick are assigned to the 372nd Military Police Company and were mentioned in the report on prison abuse submitted by Gen. Antonio Taguba.
In the charge sheet released today, Frederick was accused of having taken part in forcing a prisoner to stand on a box with wires placed on his hands -- a scene displayed in one of the photos that broke open the abuse scandal.
The charge sheet, described by the Associated Press, says that the prisoner was told he would be electrocuted if he fell off the box, although the wires were not connected to a power source.
Frederick was also accused of forcing naked detainees into a pyramid position and photographing the scene. He was also alleged to have ordered detainees to masturbate in front of other prisoners and guards and then "placing one in a position so that the detainee's face was directly in front of the genitals of another detainee" to simulate oral sex while photographing them.
Davis allegedly forced detainees into a pile "and jumped on" them, the charge sheet said. He was also accused of having stepped on prisoners' feet and having struck one detainee "in anger."
Another of the seven U.S. soldiers facing charges in the prison abuse, Pfc. Lynndie England, told a TV interviewer that she was following orders to create psychological pressure on them, the AP reported.
England, the Army private who was photographed with naked Iraqi prisoners, told KCNC-TV in Denver on Tuesday that her superiors gave her specific instructions on how to pose for the photos. Asked who gave the orders, she would say only, "Persons in my chain of command," the AP reported.
In photographs that have been shown worldwide, England, 21, is seen smiling, cigarette in her mouth, as she leans forward and points at the genitals of a naked, hooded Iraqi. Another photo taken at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison shows her holding a leash that encircles the neck of a naked Iraqi man lying on his side.
"I was instructed by persons in higher rank to 'stand there, hold this leash, look at the camera,' and they took picture for PsyOps [psychological operations]," she told the station.
"I didn't really, I mean, want to be in any pictures," she said. She also said she thought "it was kind of weird."
The interview with England, a military reservist from West Virginia, was taped Tuesday in North Carolina. England, who is now at Fort Bragg, also met Tuesday with one of a team of Denver lawyers who have volunteered to take her case.
Asked whether worse things happened than those already seen on the photos, she said yes but declined to elaborate.
She said her superiors praised the photos and "just told us, 'Hey, you're doing great, keep it up.' "
In Baghdad, Kimmitt said the fighting around Karbala has resulted in 22 killed militiamen.
Late last night, he said, U.S. led forces moved on the city's central mosque, which he said was being used as an operation base and ammunition and weapons depot by Sadr's Mahdi militia.
After being attacked by rocket propelled grenades, Kimmitt said the troops called in air support and cleared out the area around the mosque.
Even as troops fought with Sadr's forces, discussions continued with local leaders in the city of Najaf, where Sadr is reportedly holed up, aimed at ending the fighting in the area.
Dan Senor, the spokesman for the U.S. occupation authority in Iraq, said there were "a number of notables, Iraqi notables, who are working towards a peaceful resolution in Najaf. As I said earlier, we encourage it. We think it's a positive sign.
"Even if it doesn't lead to a peaceful resolution," he said, "we do think it's a positive sign that Iraqi leaders are stepping forward and they are trying to make a constructive contribution to minimize bloodshed in their own country, particularly when they're speaking out against their fellow Iraqis" such as Sadr.