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Pentagon Concerned Old Abu Ghraib Photos Could Spark Violence

The Defense Department has expressed concern that the release of more photos, and some videos, of prisoner abuse at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib Prison more than two years ago could incite what it calls "unnecessary violence."

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman says the incidents at Abu Ghraib during that period have been fully investigated, more than 25 servicemembers have been disciplined, and the treatment of detainees has been improved at all Defense Department facilities. He says the release of more pictures from two years ago could inflame passions and incite unnecessary violence.

A Danish political cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad, has sparked violent protests in many Islamic countries for more than a week, and what turned out to be an inaccurate report about the abuse of the Koran at the Guantanamo detention center last year also sparked violent protests.

These latest photos and videos were first broadcast by the SBS network in Australia. The network says they are from the same batch of pictures as those released in 2004, causing an international outcry, a dozen investigations by the Defense Department and the prosecution or administrative discipline of several prison guards and some of their supervisors.

The U.S. government is involved in a court battle to prevent the full release of the pictures.

The photos broadcast show male detainees naked in various poses, some with bags over their heads, one hanging upside-down from a set of bunk beds. In one photo, a guard holds a dog that appears to be straining to attack a crouching detainee. Detainees also have various injuries, including red marks on one man's buttocks and another man's arm.

A U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad questioned the timing of the release of the material, with anti-western sentiment running high in many Islamic countries. The spokesman also said the images do not reflect what is happening now at Abu Ghraib.

The Pentagon spokesman, Bryan Whitman, says it is the policy of the Defense Department to treat all detainees humanely, and to act promptly to investigate reports of abuse and take corrective action when necessary. He says that worldwide, more than 600 allegations of mistreatment of detainees have been investigated, and more than 200 military personnel have been held accountable through prosecution or administrative punishment such as reduction in rank.