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Photos Scandal, Uproar Growing

A member of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council demanded Saturday that Iraqi authorities investigate reports that American guards abused inmates in the very prison where Saddam Hussein's regime tortured opponents.

As international condemnation intensified, the scandal broadened with a British newspaper publishing new photographs of a hooded Iraqi prisoner, who reportedly was beaten and humiliated by British troops. The Daily Mirror's front page showed a soldier apparently urinating on the prisoner, who was sitting on the floor.

Also Saturday, The New Yorker magazine said it obtained a U.S. Army report that Iraqi detainees were subjected to "sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses" at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.

Those abuses included threats of rape and the pouring of cold water and liquid from chemical lights on detainees, said the internal report by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba. Detainees were beaten with a broom handle and one was sodomized with "a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick," the report said, the magazine reported in its May 10 issue.

Col. Jill Morgenthaler, spokeswoman for the U.S. command here, said Taguba had prepared an internal report but she could not comment on its findings because they were classified.

Also Saturday, images of smiling U.S. military police humiliating Iraqi prisoners appeared in newspapers around the Middle East on Saturday, fueling anger among Arabs.

Many Arabs in neighboring countries accuse the United States of having double standards on human rights and say the issue will rally support for Islamic fundamentalists.

The new allegations are expected to fuel a growing sense of outrage that swelled in Iraq after the release of shocking pictures showing prisoners being humiliated by their U.S. captors - who invaded Iraq last year to liberate the country from Saddam's tyranny.

Although the pictures have not been widely published by Iraqi newspapers, many Iraqis and Arabs in other Middle eastern nations have seen them on Arabic-language satellite television stations, such as Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya.

"After what we saw, all Iraqis will attack them now," Abdulilah Mohammed, a 55-year-old Baghdad street vendor, said of the Americans.

Some photos, , showed two U.S. soldiers standing near the prisoners, smiling and clowning for the camera.

Another showed a hooded prisoner standing on a box with wires attached to his hands. CBS said the prisoner was told that if he fell off the box, he would be electrocuted, although the wires were not connected to a power supply.

Two of the images were published in The New York Times on Saturday.

"The Governing Council should investigate this, because it is the legitimate authority responsible for protecting the Iraqis," council member Sondul Chapouk told The Associated Press. "During Saddam's time we rejected such acts, and after the liberation we still reject them."

Another council member, Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer, said the perpetrators must be punished "as war criminals" because "the dignity of an Iraqi citizen is no less than the dignity of an American."

Council member Mahmoud Othman, a member of the pro-U.S. Kurdish minority, warned that the allegations had harmed the U.S. military's image in Iraq.

"The Saddam era was full of executions and torture, and we want the new Iraq clean of such images," he said.

U.S. officials in Iraq and Washington have expressed outrage over the alleged abuse at Abu Ghraib, notorious during Saddam's era as a center of torture, rape and murder.

"Their treatment does not reflect the nature of the American people," President Bush said Friday. "That's not the way we do things in America. I didn't like it one bit."

Mr. Bush has made a point of taking credit for shutting down the ousted dictator's "torture chambers."

The U.S. military was investigating the alleged abuse of prisoners well before the pictures emerged, and Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, ordered a criminal probe in January.

Six U.S. soldiers face courts-martial in the case. Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, commander of the 800th Military Police Brigade, and at least seven others have been suspended from their duties.

Morgenthaler, the U.S. spokeswoman, said in an e-mail that three of the six soldiers facing courts-martial have completed their Article 32 hearings - the military equivalent of a grand jury proceeding. In all cases, the adjudicating officer recommended that charges go forward to general courts martial.

The Daily Mirror report quoted unidentified soldiers as saying the unarmed captive shown in its photograph was threatened with execution during eight hours of abuse and was left bleeding and vomiting. They said the captive was then driven away and dumped from a moving vehicle, and his fate was unclear.

"If it happened, it's completely unacceptable," British Prime Minister Tony Blair said. "I think anyone would be sickened by any thought that coalition troops had abused Iraqi prisoners."

British Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram promised an inquiry by the Royal Military Police.

Britain's The Independent newspaper, which opposed the war, wrote in an editorial: "These images have served to inflame opinion in Iraq, throughout the Middle East and beyond, confirming for many Muslims, rightly or wrongly, the view that Americans hold them in contempt."

The Daily Telegraph newspaper, which backed the war, described the pictures as "shocking."

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, whose country holds the European Union presidency, said, "We are all appalled by the pictures." He said the soldiers deserve protection under the Geneva Conventions.

Such comments have done little to assuage anger among Iraqis, many of whom are chafing under foreign rule. Even those most supportive of the U.S. effort fear Americans have lost the moral high ground.

"It is inhumane torture," Majid Karim said. "No one could accept that. Those who are torturing our youth, the prisoners, are Israeli intelligence agents."

Imad Othman, a 29-year-old civil engineer, said that unless the American guards are severely punished, "it will really create a grudge against the Americans and attacks against them will increase."

The pictures could not have appeared at a worse time for the embattled American mission in Iraq, already reeling from the bloodiest month since the Iraq conflict began in March 2003.

Egypt's Akhbar el-Yom newspaper on Saturday splashed photographs of the U.S. soldiers posing by naked, hooded inmates on page one with the banner headline "The Scandal." Al-Wafd, an opposition paper, displayed similar photos beneath the headline, "The Shame!"

"Shame on America. How can they convince us now that it is the bastion of democracy, freedoms and human rights? Why do we blame our dictators then?" asked Mustafa Saad, who was reading morning papers in a downtown Cairo cafe.

Mohammed Hassan Taha, an editor at Nile Sports News Television, said Arabs should not allow the matter to pass quietly. "This is not humiliation of Iraqis, it is humiliation of all Arabs," Taha said while buying Akhbar el-Yom at a newsstand.

"They were ugly images. Is this the way the Americans treat prisoners?" asked Ahmad Taher, 24, a student at Baghdad's Mustansiriyah University. "Americans claim that they respect freedom and democracy - but only in their country."

Hussein al-Saeedi, spokesman for Kuwait's al-Salaf radical Islamic group, said the images "make every sensible person doubt all the principles Western democracies are offering" and show the need for an end to the U.S. occupation.

"America justified its invasion of Iraq by saying the country was under a dictatorship. Unfortunately, Americans are now torturing the Iraqi people in the same place Saddam tortured them," he said.

In Syria, Damascus merchant Sahban Alawi, 45, asked, "What's the difference between them and Saddam Hussein? They are doing to Iraq more than what he did."

Dara Nor al-Din, a former judge and member of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, said the torture of prisoners and detainees or showing them naked contradicts principles of human rights.

"We used to criticize Saddam's regime regarding the beating of detained people, so why should we accept to repeat the same tragedy. This is not acceptable," Nor al-Din said.

Part of the problem, said Hurst Hannum, a professor of international law at the Fletcher School at Tufts University outside Boston, is that Mr. Bush has "put this war on such a high moral plane that any moral deviance will be taken more seriously by critics, and will be interpreted as either being arrogance or hypocrisy."

Amnesty International has warned the evidence of prisoner abuse "will exacerbate an already fragile situation." And New York-based Human Rights Watch said any investigation should also include the superiors of soldiers involved.

"The brazenness with which these soldiers conducted themselves ... suggests they felt they had nothing to hide from their superiors," said Kenneth Roth, the group's executive director.

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