Charles Graner: Just Like a Cheerleader
Testimony began today in the military trial of Charles Graner, the alleged ringleader of the guards who abused prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. His lawyer today said the abuse was acceptable. Who's he kidding?
Graner's attorney said piling naked prisoners into pyramids and leading them by a leash were acceptable methods of prisoner control. He compared this to pyramids made by cheerleaders at sports events and parents putting tethers on toddlers.
"Don't cheerleaders all over America form pyramids six to eight times a year. Is that torture?" Guy Womack, Graner's attorney, said in opening arguments to the 10-member U.S. military jury at the reservist's court-martial.
The prosecutors trotted out their cooperating co-abusers today--Ivan Frederick was another baddie. He got an 8 year sentence in exchange for agreeing to testify against Graner.
Prosecutors also presented shocking new videos and photos from Abu Ghraib prison, including forced group masturbation....After prosecutors screened grainy video that was previously not made public showing naked and hooded Iraqi male prisoners masturbating, Frederick said Graner and England joked about the incident.
"He (Graner) said something to the fact that it was a present for her birthday," said Frederick, who, like Graner, was also a prison guard in civilian life. Frederick recounted several occasions on which Graner hit prisoners, including once when he knocked out a man before piling him and others into a naked human pyramid. "He shook his hand and said 'damn, that hurt'," Frederick said.
Among misdeeds Frederick owned up to in his case was staging a mock execution of a prisoner.
Major Michael Holley, the chief prosecutor, said Graner beat a prisoner with a baton until the Iraqi begged for death, and forced men "to simulate fellatio".
Will they argue that sexual abuse also is an acceptable means of treating prisoners?
In the event Graner's partner in crime and sexcapades, Lynndie England, does not testify, I hope the prosectors find another witness to corroborate some of her allegations, particularly this one:
[Graner] applied needle and thread to prisoners after beating them. "Cpl. Graner would personally stitch up detainees if the wound weren't too bad," she said. "He would take pictures of his work. One particular incident Cpl. Graner ran a former Iraqi general into a wall and split his lip. Cpl. Graner stitched up his lip."
Graner is fortunate that allegations of prior unrelated acts of violence from his prison guard days won't be admitted. More here from Nicholas Yarris, the Pennsylvania death row inmate who was exonerated by DNA evidence and released from prison after serving 22 years. Graner was a guard at his prison:
According to Yarris, Graner was responsible for moving prisoners within the facility and was "violent, abusive, arrogant and mean-spirited" toward Yarris and other inmates. Yarris said he knew of several instances in which Graner was involved in physically assaulting prisoners. Yarris also states that Graner was reprimanded by his superiors on several occasions and was disliked by both prisoners and other prison employees. Upon learning that Graner - a reservist called to active duty in Iraq in May 2003 who receives a $500 per month stipend from the DOC - was given a supervisory role at Abu Ghraib based on his civilian training and experience in Pennsylvania, Yarris expressed disgust.
"He was at the bottom level of prison guards," Yarris states, "so he must've done a good job bragging to the military about what a 'big shot' he was at [SCI-]Greene." Yarris also confirmed that, prior to being taken out of their cells, prisoners held in Administrative Custody at SCI-Greene were forced to strip naked in front of the transport team, lift their genitals, and bend over for a visual "inspection." The sexual humiliation of the prisoners at SCI-Greene is eerily similar to the tactics used by military personnel under Graner's supervision against Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib.
See this press release for more details of allegations against Graner as a state-side prison guard.
Query: If Graner testifies in his defense, and says he had misgivings about the abuse but thought he had to follow orders, could Yarris be a rebuttal witness to impeach his credibility?
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