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updated 1/17/2006 4:25:39 PM ET 2006-01-17T21:25:39

ARMY STATEMENT

"Regarding Hardball's interview of Mr. Lagouranis last night, the U.S. Army has never given authority to any Soldier throughout this war to abuse or torture detainees.  In fact, that authority simply cannot be given. Ordering abuse, overlooking subordinates abusing detainees or any type of torture is not, nor has it ever been part of the Army's values. The Army has and will continue to live by the laws and policy directives prohibiting mistreatment of detainees, and will investigate allegations of abuse. We encourage Mr. Lagouranis to provide the Army any new information so that it may be investigated thoroughly.

Over 500 investigations have examined allegations of detainee mistreatment. Allegations against more than 251 military members have been addressed in courts-martial, non-judicial punishment and other adverse administrative actions."

Very respectfully,

John P. Boyce, Jr.
Army Public Affairs, Media Relations Division

MARINE RESPONSE

Release #022-05
Oct. 19, 2005

Charges of Detainee Abuse Unfounded, Marines Say

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -  Marine officials today disputed the allegations by a former Army interrogator that Marines serving in Iraq last year routinely beat detainees before turning them over for questioning.

In an interview that aired Wednesday on the Public Broadcasting Service program "Frontline," Tony Lagouranis described a "culture of abuse" permeating interrogations throughout Iraq. Specifically, the former Army specialist charged that members of the North Carolina-based 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit regularly roughed up suspects before transporting them to the Marines' detention facility at Forward Operating Base Kalsu.

Lagouranis, who served briefly alongside the Marines in Iraq's Northern Babil Province, also said that the MEU failed to investigate his reports about the abuse.

"Allegations of routine abuse by members of the 24th MEU in Iraq are false and appear to be based on a single incident," said Capt. David Nevers, the unit's public affairs officer. "In that particular case, when Spc. Lagouranis brought what he believed to be evidence of abuse by our Marines to our attention, we conducted an inquiry and found the charge to be without merit."

The allegations were later referred to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service to ensure the matter was thoroughly investigated.

The allegations made by Lagouranis are not connected with the treatment of detainees at the Kalsu facility, which was built in August 2004, just four months after the exposure of abuse at Abu Ghraib.

"The living conditions at our detention facility were second to none in Iraq, and with the Abu Ghraib scandal fresh in our minds, we ran the facility with complete transparency," said Nevers. "Detainees were treated with dignity and in full accordance with the Geneva Conventions.

The MEU's medical staff examined every detainee at Kalsu regularly, and meticulous records were kept, all in an effort to ensure that detainees received proper care and that Marines were protected against unfounded allegations of abuse, Nevers said.

The facility was toured regularly by Iraqi governmental officials, U.S. and coalition commanders, international observers from the Red Cross and Red Crescent Society, and journalists embedded with the MEU.

Some suspects did arrive at the detention facility with injuries, including bruises and minor cuts. But those injuries, they say, occurred during apprehension, when Marines conducting raids targeting known insurgents often encountered heavy resistance.

"Our Marines acted aggressively but honorably and professionally," Nevers said. "In pursuing known criminals, thugs and murderers, we used the force necessary to apprehend them while protecting ourselves and innocent Iraqis."

During the period of July 2004 to February 2005 the MEU rounded up nearly 1,200 suspected insurgents in hundreds of raids and house-to-house searches.

Those seven months of operations yielded five allegations of abuse by 24th MEU Marines. In two incidents in which Marines were charged with striking a suspect they were attempting to apprehend, unit commanders determined that disciplinary action was warranted. Four Marines received non-judicial punishment in one case; in the other, a Marine corporal was convicted at a court-martial, demoted to private and forced to forfeit a month's pay.

The third allegation was unsubstantiated, while the remaining two incidents - including the one brought to the command's attention by Lagouranis – are still under investigation.

For more information, please contact Capt. David Nevers at 910-467-2731 or at neversde@iimef.usmc.mil.  For more information about the 24th MEU, visit the unit's Web site at http://www.24meu.usmc.mil/.   -USMC-

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