'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

"They said it would be funny if I burned him with my cigarette" 

Former MP at Abu Ghraib, Megan Ambuhl, the woman who married Charles Graner after he broke up with Lynndie England, is out of the military and talking to the press about her old job. Her position is that the bigshots are more culpable than grunts like her because she and her peers had no idea how a war prison was supposed to be run. She says she had no training of any kind and assumed that what took place in Abu Ghraib was normal and acceptable given that the agents of institutions like the CIA were obviously crawling all over the place and that the abuse of prisoners was daily and completely out in the open.

Nothing really new here ... but her story is of some interest if for no other reason than because it is a first-person account: (from the Post)

Pentagon and Army officials have argued that the abuse at Abu Ghraib was isolated to a few individuals who decided to break the rules.

Ambuhl said some of the images seen in the photos depicted events that occurred every day.

"At the very least, there were a whole slew of people who knew about it," Ambuhl said. "These pictures were in no way hidden. We didn't sneak around pretending this wasn't going on."

Members of Other Government Agencies (OGA) -- a euphemism for the CIA -- were all over the hard site, keeping as many as 100 detainees there for interrogations. Once, two men with OGA had finished interrogating a detainee in a shower room and asked her to go get him.

"They said it would be funny if I burned him with my cigarette," Ambuhl said, adding that she tossed her cigarette before releasing the detainee, who was shackled to a window.

She said in hindsight she should have intervened.

"None of us were in the right frame of mind to get help for this situation," she said. "This was the norm. We didn't know any different. Maybe that's why they sent a combat support unit to do it. We wouldn't know how it was supposed to work, and we wouldn't question it.

"I wish I had done more to stop it," she said.

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