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Army Dishes Out Prison Abuse Docs

Videos from Iraq compiled by a Florida National Guardsman and called "Ramadi Madness" appeared to show one soldier kicking a wounded, cuffed prisoner and another striking a detainee with a rifle butt, yet Army investigators found no cause to charge anyone with abuse, according to Army documents released Friday.

The videos were described in 1,200 pages of documents released by the Army on Friday in response to a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union, which is seeking information on prisoner abuse in Iraq. Previously, the military had been providing the documents to the ACLU, which in turn has made them public, but on Friday provided copies to the news media as well.

Army officials said the documents summarized 13 investigations, none of which resulted in abuse charges. A number were closed due to insufficient evidence. The Army, which says it is committed to finding and correcting problems in prison operations, has so far released the results of 129 investigations to the ACLU.

Jameel Jaffer, an attorney with the ACLU, called the Army documents "further evidence that abuse of detainees was widespread in Iraq and Afghanistan. In some small number of cases, low-ranking soldiers have been punished. In light of the hundreds of abuses we now know to have taken place, it's increasingly difficult to understand why no senior official, civilian or military, has been held accountable."

The ACLU, along with Human Rights First, sued Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld this week in connection with some alleged abuses of prisoners.

The "Ramadi Madness" video was a compilation of recordings taken of the actions of B Company, 1st Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment, a unit of the Florida National Guard that was in Iraq in 2003 and early 2004, according to the investigation documents. The company is based in West Palm Beach.

The investigation began after a civilian public affairs officer in Florida saw some of the video while other soldiers were watching it.

The video itself was not released. Investigation documents describe efforts to prevent it from being leaked to the news media.

The investigation found that "'Ramadi Madness' contained footage of inappropriate rather than criminal behavior," according to a summary of the investigation, dated Dec. 28, 2004. Ramadi is a restive city in Iraq's Sunni Triangle.

According to investigators, one part of the video showed an Iraqi lying on the ground, handcuffed and moaning, when a soldier kicked him. The prisoner had been shot through the abdomen because he raised a gun toward American soldiers during a raid, investigators said.

Investigators found one soldier, whose name was blacked out from the documents, who acknowledged he looked like the one in the video, although his face was obscured. The soldier said he didn't remember kicking the Iraqi. The fate of the detainee is unclear; several officers said they didn't believe the kick constituted an assault.

Another section of the video appeared to show a soldier hitting a cuffed Iraqi in the head with a rifle butt during an interrogation, according to the civilian who first reported it. However, one soldier told interrogators that this was a staged image, and the Iraqi was not actually hit with the rifle. The soldier said the Iraqi, a juvenile, had been detained for throwing rocks at a U.S. military convoy and was later released.

A third showed one soldier manipulating a dead Iraqi, shot while trying to run a checkpoint in a truck, to make it appear the man waved to the camera. The soldier said he only positioned the body so other U.S. personnel could remove it. He also said there was a missile in the truck.

Other investigations included in the Army documents involve other units in Iraq. They include:

An Iraqi said he was beaten against a Bradley infantry carrier by two soldiers after being detained. Medics said he had a seizure. The case was closed for insufficient evidence.

An investigation into allegations of rape and other abuses in Iraq by soldiers in the 3rd Infantry Division, which were recounted in a Playboy article. The investigation could not validate the allegations in the article.

A former soldier was charged with making a false official statement after alleging some of his comrades stole from Iraqis at vehicle checkpoints in Iraq.

A civilian with the organization searching for weapons of mass destruction alleged a U.S. military prison guard at Baghdad International Airport forced a detainee to drink his own urine. The investigation could not prove this happened.

Investigations into shootings during riots at prisons. In each case, the shooting was found to be justified.

By John J. Lumpkin