Intelligence officer counters England

/ Source: The Associated Press

An Abu Ghraib prison intelligence officer Wednesday disputed Pfc. Lynndie England's claim she was ordered to use humiliation to get Iraqi detainees to talk, saying such tactics weren't authorized and don't work.

Testifying in a pretrial hearing via telephone from Iraq, Chief Warrant Officer Edward Rivas said military police units like England's were used "primarily for security," not to "rough up" prisoners for interrogation.

"That's not doctrine, sir, no," Rivas told a military prosecutor. He said putting inmates in sexually humiliating positions and stripping them naked were not techniques used in military intelligence.

Detainees are "expecting that kind of treatment, sir," Rivas said. "It just doesn't work, sir."

Rivas, who was in charge of assessing the intelligence value of detainees at Abu Ghraib, was asked by a prosecutor if military intelligence was in the habit of recruiting "personnel clerks" like England to do their interrogations.

"No, sir," he said.

Under cross-examination, he said the only way humiliation tactics were used at Abu Ghraib is if "somebody went out and did that on their own."

The testimony came at the end of a second day of prosecution witnesses who portrayed England as one of a handful of out-of-control soldiers at Abu Ghraib who took it upon themselves to photograph prisoners in humiliating poses.

England's direct supervisor at Abu Ghraib, Spc. Matthew Bolinger, said the 21-year-old reservist had a job in an office filing paperwork and had no business venturing to the part of the prison where the abuse took place.

He said England repeatedly disobeyed orders not to make late-night visits to a boyfriend guard in the prison's secured "hard site."

"She was sneaking out in the middle of the night, going down to the hard site prison. She wasn't getting enough sleep," Bolinger testified in a military pretrial hearing, adding England had trouble showing up on time and "her performance was not so good."

Bolinger said England was "counseled" four times between July 2003 and January 2004 after being caught in bed with Spc. Charles A. Graner Jr., another soldier in England's unit who has been charged in the sweeping prisoner abuse case and is the father of the child England is now carrying.

At one point in late November, he said, England was ordered not to leave her quarters unescorted except for work, church, the latrine or meals.

The Article 32 hearing, expected to last through the week, will determine whether a court-martial goes forward against England on 13 counts of abusing detainees and six counts stemming from possession of sexually explicit photos. The maximum possible sentence is 38 years in prison.

Some of the photos, which have made England infamous in the Arab world, showed her smiling, pointing and giving the thumbs-up at a naked prisoner's genitals. In one shot, she is holding a kneeling, naked detainee by a leash.

Spc. Matthew Wisdom testified England appeared to be a willing participant in the humiliation, describing one instance when England provided the lewd commentary as guards forced two Iraqi prisoners to engage in a sex act.

Both Bolinger and Wisdom testified by phone from Fort Lee, Va., where the 372nd Military Police Company is being stationed before returning to its home base of Cresaptown, Md.

England, from Fort Ashby, W.Va., is one of seven reservists from the 372nd who have been charged in the scandal.