Secret Iraqi prisoner ‘rape’ photos Obama wants blocked
Pressure was mounting on Barack Obama last night after it emerged that graphic images of U.S. soldiers raping and torturing Iraqi prisoners are among photographs his administration is refusing to release.
The U.S. President caused outrage two weeks ago after he claimed publishing the pictures would inflame anti-American feeling in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But human rights groups are now demanding that an independent commission be set up after a former U.S. general revealed that some of the banned photos document ‘horrendous’ abuse at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad between 2001 and 2005.
Notorious: In a forerunner to the current photo scandal, U.S. soldier Lynndie England is seen dragging an Iraqi Abu Ghraib inmate by a lead
Retired Major General Antonio Taguba, who was in charge of a 2004 investigation into abuse at the prison, said: ‘The mere description of these pictures is horrendous enough, take my word for it.’
One photo reportedly shows an American soldier raping a female prisoner, while another captures a male translator raping a male detainee.
Other pictures are understood to depict sexual assaults on prisoners with truncheons, wire and a phosphorescent tube.
Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union, which has been instrumental in getting the U.S. government to release the images, are now studying Major General Taguba’s comments before deciding what action to take.
Joanne Marine, a spokesman for New York-based campaign group Human Rights Watch, said: ‘Major General Taguba’s remarks confirmed what has been suspected – that there was systematic torture and abuse of prisoners.
‘We believe there should be an investigation and the photographs should be published.
‘The U.S. has an obligation to release the photos and we continue to call for a commission to investigate the systematic abuse and torture of prisoners under the Bush administration.’
When Mr Obama was elected last November, he pledged to publish the photographs, which are believed to relate to 400 cases of abuse at Abu Ghraib.
At the time his administration claimed the photos were similar in nature to those released in 2004, which showed U.S. servicemen and women humiliating Iraqi detainees.
21-year-old Private Lynndie England was pictured dragging a cowering prisoner along the ground with a dog lead.
In another, she was seen smoking a cigarette and pointing a mock gun at another naked prisoner’s genitals.
However, in a surprise move earlier this month, Mr Obama said he would seek to block the photos’ publication,
Last night, Bryan Whitman, a spokesman for the Pentagon, claimed that the Daily Telegraph, the British newspaper which first published an article detailing the allegations, had ‘an inability to get the facts right’.