Sunday, May 23, 2004

'I love to make a grown man piss himself.' "

The Washington Post brings fresh news of America's favorite couple. Specialists (in what? one wants to ask) Charles A. Graner Jr and Lynndie England. The Becks and Posh of Abu Ghraib. Asked whether he had any qualms about his brutality, Graner--a Prison Guard in Pennsylvania State Prisons--replied:

"The Christian in me says it's wrong, but the corrections officer in me says, 'I love to make a grown man piss himself.'"

(I will definitely be using this line when I teach my next class on role morality and professional ethics.)

Update: Ron Davis has more on Graner here

In 1996, he took a job at State Correctional Institution Greene, a new maximum-security prison near West Virginia that housed some of the most hardened criminals in Pennsylvania. Within a year, the state had investigated accusations that guards at the prison routinely beat handcuffed inmates, used crude racial slurs and falsified reports of inmate misconduct.

Specialist Graner, who worked the overnight shift, was not implicated in the investigation. But in 1999, he was sued in federal court by a Greene inmate who accused Specialist Graner of beating him on at least two occasions.

The lawsuit, filed by Horatio Nimley, who was serving a five-year sentence for burglary, claimed that Specialist Graner and three other guards had slipped a razor blade into his potatoes in June 1998 and then beat him when he complained about not being allowed to see a nurse.

Specialist Graner and three other guards "picked me up and slammed me to the floor head first and then started hitting me in the (my) face and head with their closed fists, giving me black eyes, bloody nose and worsening the razor injury I was already suffering in my mouth," Mr. Nimley wrote.

A federal magistrate in Pittsburgh found that the complaint "has a reasonable opportunity to prevail on the merits."

But Graner's military lawyer says that's not the client he knows. Maybe Graner could have abused Iraqi prisoners, his lawyer says, but only if someone had ordered Graner to do so.

Graner actually sounds more like the sort of guy who enjoys his work:

The soldiers pulled seven Iraqi detainees from their cells, "tossed them in the middle of the floor" and then one soldier [Graner] ran across the room and lunged into the pile of detainees, according to sworn statements given to investigators by one of the soldiers now charged with abuse. He did it again, jumping into the group like it was a pile of autumn leaves, and another soldier called for others to join in. The detainees were ordered to strip and masturbate, their heads covered with plastic sandbags. One soldier stomped on their fingers and toes.

"Graner put the detainee's head into a cradle position with Graner's arm, and Graner punched the detainee with a lot of force, in the temple," Specialist Jeremy C. Sivits said in his statements to investigators, referring to another soldier charged, Specialist Charles A. Graner Jr. "Graner punched the detainee with a closed fist so hard in the temple that it knocked the detainee unconscious."

"He was joking, laughing," Specialist Sivits said. "Like he was enjoying it."

When he wasn't allegedly busting heads, Graner was busy with his girlfriend, Lynndie England. Sometimes they allegedly got busy in front of Iraqi detainees. Or in front of other troops:

Sex and alcohol were commonplace, and soldiers frequently set up candlelit rooms for voyeuristic sex shows, said a soldier who served at the notorious prison.

"There were lots of affairs. There was all kinds of adultery and alcoholism and all kinds of crap going on," said Dave Bischel, a National Guardsman with the 870th Military Police unit, who returned home from Abu Ghraib last month.

"There was a bed found in one of the abandoned buildings. There was a mattress on the ground. They had chairs all circled around it and candles all over the place," said Bischel, adding the chairs were "obviously for an audience."

England says she's not good for such horrible things as committing an indecent act; assaulting Iraqi detainees on multiple occasions; conspiring with Spc. Charles Graner to "maltreat Iraqi detainees" and committing acts "prejudicial to good order and discipline and were of nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces through her mistreatment of Iraqi detainees."

She says she acted on orders from civilian intelligence officials and persons up her chain-of-command. Graner, as a corporal, outranked Pvt. England.

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