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Iraq Prison Probe Widens

Scott Roeder (AP/Jeff Tuttle)
Seven U.S. soldiers have been reprimanded in connection with the alleged abuse of Iraqi prisoners carried out by guards at Baghdad's notorious Abu Ghraib prison, a senior military official said on Monday.

On the orders of Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, six of the soldiers — all officers and noncommissioned officers — have received the most severe level of administrative reprimand in the U.S. military, the official said on condition of anonymity.

A seventh officer was given a more lenient admonishment.

The military official said he believed investigations of the officers were complete and they would not face further action or court martial. However, the reprimands could spell the end of their careers.

Another six U.S. military police are facing criminal charges.

"They really have set us back a ways here, and, frankly, dishonored the 150,000 soldiers over here that are doing their job in an honorable basis every day," Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, speaking Monday on CBS News' The Early Show, said of the U.S. soldiers.

Kimmitt, chief U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, added that soldiers don't have to accept an illegal order, "something they know is wrong."

"I'm not certain the excuse that I was told to do this is going to pass muster," he told co-anchor Harry Smith.

A former Iraqi prisoner says the allegations that inmates at Baghdad's notorious Abu Ghraib prison have at the hands of their American guards came as no shock to him.

In an interview Sunday with The Associated Press, Dhia al-Shweiri said he too was stripped naked during his stay in the prison and the humiliation was worse than the torture he endured under Saddam Hussein.

Now the 30-year-old is in the al-Mahdi Army, a militia fighting on behalf of an anti-American Shiite Muslim cleric.

In Britain, a debate is raging over photographs allegedly showing British forces abusing Iraq prisoners, with some critics saying the pictures are fakes.

The tabloid Daily Mirror, which published the photographs, is standing by their authenticity, reports CBS News Correspondent Steve Holt. The paper says they come from two serving members of the Queen's Lancashire regiment. That unit's former commander, Col. David Blake, expressed doubt, however.

"There are so many inconsistencies that we believe they are faked and they are staged," he said.

Blake and other observers say details of uniforms and weapons are wrong.

However, he warns that, even if an investigation proves the photos were faked, the damage has been done, and coalition forces serving in Iraq are in even greater danger.

Amnesty International said it had evidence of a pattern of torture by coalition forces.

"We've been documenting allegations of torture for a year now," said Nicole Choueiry, Middle East spokesman for human rights group Amnesty International. "We have said there are patterns of torture."

Amnesty says it has received reports of abuse including "prolonged sleep deprivation, beatings, prolonged restraint in painful positions, sometimes combined with exposure to loud music, prolonged hooding, and exposure to bright lights."

Allegations of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison, on Baghdad's western outskirts, exploded onto the world stage this past week after broadcast images allegedly showing Iraqis stripped naked, hooded and being tormented by their U.S. captors.

"We're not only embarrassed, but we're just extremely disappointed," said Kimmitt.

An internal U.S. Army report found that Iraqi detainees were subjected to "sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses," according to The New Yorker magazine.

The official said the military is telling its servicemen to be on the lookout for backlash stemming from the abuse and is briefing troops on how to discuss the issue in conversation with Iraqis.

"We've made it very clear to commanders and all the way down to the lowest soldier, 'You've got to get out there and explain what happened here,'" the official said.