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U.S. soldiers come forward claiming torture of Iraqi prisoners

A captain and two sergeants who served in a battalion of the 82nd Airborne have given statements to Human Rights Watch, claiming that soldiers at a base near Fallujah routinely tortured Iraqi prisoners.

The soldiers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the abuse took place almost daily and often came under orders. Anything short of causing an inmate's death was allowed. "As long as no PUCs came up dead, it happened," he said. "We kept it to broken arms and legs." The soldiers said that Military Intelligence personnel regularly instructed soldiers to “smoke” -- torture until unconscious -- detainees before interrogations.

"One day (a sergeant) shows up and tells a (prisoner) to grab a pole. He told him to bend over and broke the guy's leg with a mini-Louisville Slugger, a metal bat."

In addition to beatings, there were other forms of torture which very closely paralleled the practices at Abu Ghraib, such as forcing prisoners to form human pyramids, use of forced stress positions, sleep deprivation, and extremes of hot and cold.

The officer who spoke to Human Rights Watch made persistent efforts over 17 months to raise concerns about detainee abuse, but was consistently told to ignore abuses and to “consider your career.” When the officer made an appointment this month with staff members of Senators John McCain and John Warner, he says his commanding officer denied him a pass to leave his base. The officer was interviewed several days later by investigators with the Army Criminal Investigative Division which appears to have launched a formal investigation.
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