A former Army reservist who served with the 372nd Military Police Company in Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad provided a detailed account Friday of Iraqi prisoner abuse that he says was directed and encouraged by military intelligence officers.
Kenneth Davis, 33, who held the rank of sergeant until he left the military last month, said he went to superiors to describe the abuse he saw and gave a statement to Army investigators implicating military intelligence personnel. So far, none has been charged in connection with the scandal for which seven soldiers from the 372nd, based in Cresaptown, Md., are being held responsible. He said that he has not been asked to testify for or against the accused soldiers.
"I believe the truth needs to be known here," Davis said in a lengthy interview at his Hagerstown home Friday. "These soldiers were led down a path, and whoever led them down that path is a culprit as well."
Davis's statements contradict testimony presented this week in a preliminary court hearing for Pfc. Lynndie R. England, 21, who is charged with abusing detainees at Abu Ghraib last year. On Thursday, Capt. Carolyn A. Wood, a top military intelligence commander who worked at the prison, said her unit did not encourage physical abuse or sexual humiliation of prisoners.
Davis said he took his story to Reps. Roscoe G. Bartlett (R-Md.) and Curt Weldon (R-Pa.), who are members of the House Armed Services Committee, and John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) beginning in April. Bartlett said that the congressmen have videotaped Davis's statements. "Responsibility for this goes way, way up the line," beyond the seven soldiers charged, Bartlett said Friday.
Davis served at Abu Ghraib from Oct. 1 until early December, when he returned to the United States for a family emergency. He led a team responsible for escorting prisoners to court and accompanying high-ranking officers in the country.
According to a copy of a signed statement Davis said he gave investigators May 27, he went in late October 2003 to Tier 1-A, the section of Abu Ghraib that housed prisoners of special interest to intelligence services, to speak with a member of his team.
There, his statement says, "I observed two service members. . . . I perceived both service members to be military intelligence (MI). I saw both MI soldiers handcuff two naked Iraqi detainees to the bars of cells on opposite sides. I then witnessed the same MI soldiers handcuff the detainees together, face to face. The MI soldier . . . approached me and asked me in a sarcastic tone of voice: 'Do you think we crossed the line?' or words to that effect. I responded: 'I am not sure, you are MI' or words to that effect."
Through an interpreter, the intelligence officers repeatedly ordered the detainees to confess, according to Davis's statement. They told Cpl. Charles Graner, one of the seven accused members of the 372nd, to yell at them. When a third intelligence officer arrived, Davis asked, according to his statement: " 'Is this how you interrogate detainees?' The MI soldier responded, 'There are different ways to get it done,' or words to that effect. The MI soldiers escorted the naked detainees around Tier 1A."
A third detainee then joined the group, Davis said in his statement. The MI officer ordered Graner to tell the detainee to strip. The detainees, Davis recalled, were screaming and distraught.
"Then the MI soldiers ordered all three detainees to low crawl" so their genitals dragged on the cement floor. "When the detainees attempted to arch up, two of the MI soldiers put pressure in the middle of their backs and yelled at them to get down. Two MI soldiers then cuffed the detainees together."
Davis said he observed England taking photographs that night. In a photograph that has been published in several media reports, Davis identified himself, Graner, and four men he said were military intelligence officers.
Davis said he reported the incident to his platoon leader and was told, " 'They are MI and they are in charge, let them do their job,' or words to that effect."
Davis has been in e-mail contact with Graner, who is still in Iraq. Retired Lt. Col. Guy Womack, Graner's civilian attorney, said that Graner's pretrial hearing is scheduled for Aug. 23 in Mannheim, Germany.
In a copy of an Army "Developmental Counseling Form" dated Nov. 16, 2003, that Davis said Graner e-mailed to him, a written summary begins: "Cpl. Graner, you are doing a fine job in Tier 1 . . . you have received many accolades from the MI units here. . . . "
Womack said that Davis's statements "support what we have been saying all along, and that is that military intelligence officers were in charge at Abu Ghraib and were directing the actions of the MPs."