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Report Says Iraqi Prisoners Abused for Punishment or Amusement - 2004-05-22

A published report says some Iraqi prisoners abused at Abu Ghraib prison were being punished for criminal acts or for the amusement of U.S. jailers, but not as part of interrogation strategy.

The Washington Post says Saturday's edition the information is contained in secret documents obtained by the newspaper, which include sworn statements by U.S. military police charged in the scandal.

The Post says statements by the U.S. soldiers indicate that military police staged some of the most infamous photographs of abuse to discipline prisoners for acts ranging from rioting to an alleged rape of another inmate.

The paper also quotes the soldiers as saying military intelligence officers knew about the abuse -- including the use of dogs and other harsh tactics -- and said it was helping extract information from the prisoners.

The latest allegations emerge, as the U.S. Defense Department broadens its criminal investigation into the deaths of detainees held in Iraq, as well as Afghanistan.

Senior Pentagon officials say that of 33 criminal investigations launched into detainee deaths, nine remain under active investigation. Six of the unresolved cases occurred in Iraq, and the other three in Afghanistan.

Officials say the cases include eight that may be related to suspected assaults before or during interrogations.

Also on Friday, the Pentagon announced it has launched the first criminal probe of a civilian contractor in Iraq about the possible mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners.