May 08, 2004
From the Washington Post today:
There were no rules, by her account, and there was little training. But the mission was clear. Spec. Sabrina D. Harman, a military police officer who has been charged with abusing detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, said she was assigned to break down prisoners for interrogation.
Harman, a 26-year-old Army reservist from Alexandria, said members of her military police unit took direction from Army military intelligence officers, from CIA operatives and from civilian contractors who conducted interrogations. She did not discuss abusive treatment of prisoners or clarify who specifically ordered such treatment, and she referred questions about the charges against her to her attorney, who declined to comment.
Harman is accused by the Army of taking photographs of that pyramid and photographing and videotaping detainees who were ordered to strip and masturbate in front of other prisoners and soldiers, according to a charge sheet obtained by The Washington Post. She is also charged with photographing a corpse and then posing for a picture with it; with striking several prisoners by jumping on them as they lay in a pile; with writing “rapeist” on a prisoner’s leg; and with attaching wires to a prisoner’s hands while he stood on a box with his head covered. She told him he would be electrocuted if he fell off the box, the documents said.
In her e-mails, Harman said detainees would be handed over to her military police unit by Army intelligence officers, by CIA operatives or by the contractors. The Army probe into Abu Ghraib said the U.S. government used employees of private companies as interrogators and interpreters along with intelligence officers. Two of the civilian contractors are under investigation in connection with the abuses.
She said the prison had no standard operating procedures and on Tier 1A, where suspected insurgents were held, Army and other intelligence officers “made the rules as they went.”
...She said she was never schooled in the Geneva Conventions’ rules on prisoner treatment.
“The Geneva Convention was never posted, and none of us remember taking a class to review it,” Harman said. “The first time reading it was two months after being charged. I read the entire thing highlighting everything the prison is in violation of. There’s a lot.”
Harman’s mother, Robin Harman, said her daughter would never hurt anyone.
“She has this . . . attitude that she is going to save the world,” said Robin Harman, who lives in Northern Virginia. “She got over there and got an eye-opener. You don’t put unqualified kids in that situation.”
Yesterday, as Robin Harman watched Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld testify, she called her daughter a “scapegoat.” “They’re passing the buck, putting it all on the little kids,” she said. “That’s what makes me so mad.”
Harman took many photographs while in Iraq, her family said.
Among hundreds of digital pictures passed around her MP unit—and obtained by The Post—is one taken before the soldiers got to Abu Ghraib in October. In it, Harman is smiling, crouching slightly, a thumb up, and leaning toward a blackened, decaying corpse with long fingers and a gaping mouth.
Believe me, those elipses do not cover up anything exculpatory. This is obscene, incompetent, and inexcusable. Enough is enough. A quick glance around the blogosphere shows that this article is only the tip of the iceberg, and while I don’t have time to thank everybody individually, everybody has been spectacular in both covering this story and helping us spread the word about the petition. Sign it.