Abu Ghraib: Prison Guard From Hell Gets Appeal Heard Today

Charles Graner, the prison guard from hell, convicted and serving 10 years, is having his appeal of his conviction heard today by the top military appeals court in the U.S.

If there is anyone I won't lose sleep over being incarcerated 10 years, it's him. He's still claiming he acted at the behest of higher ups.

Spc. Charles Graner, of Uniontown, Pa., is serving a 10-year sentence for stacking naked prisoners into a pyramid, knocking one of them out with a punch and ordering prisoners to masturbate while other soldiers took pictures.

His defense will argue Monday before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces in Washington that it was wrongly denied access to then-classified documents showing that some of the detainee treatment reflected "enhanced interrogation techniques" approved by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The government maintains there was no error and that any relevant information was already publicly available.

All of our coverage of his acts and his trial is accessible here. Just hearing his name makes me want to shower and get the filth off. He was a bad apple before going over to Abu Ghraib and I'll bet he hasn't changed a bit. Especially since he doesn't see what he did was wrong, let alone reprehensible. He acted with amusement and glee while administering atrocious abuses.

He said that he asked Graner, a Pennsylvania prison guard in civilian life, about the photographs. Graner replied: "The Christian in me says it's wrong, but the corrections officer in me says, 'I love to make a grown man piss himself.' "

....All the MPs who provided statements also described abuses that appeared to have little to do with intelligence gathering. Instead, they said detainees were beaten and sexually humiliated as punishment or for fun.

Considering we give white collar criminals and drug offenders a lot more than 10 years, Graner ought to just do his time and maybe, just maybe, if it's long enough, he'll reflect and realize he did go terribly awry, whether it was on orders from above or not. Didn't he ever hear of "Just Say No?"

I think he should have another punishment when he gets out:he should have to spend the rest of his life with his girlfriend, Lyndie England and their child.

What a couple they make.

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    you know, (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by cpinva on Mon May 03, 2010 at 07:53:27 AM EST
    i was going to make some pithy comment, but those pics pretty much say it all. spc graner would have fit right in, with the guards at dachau. given enough time on the loose, and finding lampshades, made of human skin, in his quarters, would not have at all surprised me.

    consider, he was in the military, even before they got desperate, and started accepting people with violent felony records.

    I have no doubt that Charles Graner (5.00 / 4) (#5)
    by Anne on Mon May 03, 2010 at 09:04:27 AM EST
    is someone I would not want to be alone in a room with, and that he may be as sadistic and cruel as he has been portrayed as, and even as he has described himself.  

    That being said, Charles Graner was not a rogue operator, or an Abu Ghraib aberration; he was a tool - albeit a willing one - in the hands of superiors who approved of and encouraged the kinds of things that were happening there.  Does that mean he should not have been convicted, or should not serve his time?  Of course not.

    But, one of the problems with the lack of accountability for those higher up the chain is that it allows those at the lower levels - like Graner - to act the scapegoat, and essentially refuse to take responsibility for whatever role they played.

    As for why Graner didn't "just say no," I would ask why someone in the Bush administration didn't do that - someone like Gonzales or Yoo or Rumsfeld - instead of finding "legal" ways to foster a culture steeped in torture and humiliation and death, and then only holding those at the lowest levels accountable.

    As for this:

    I think he should have another punishment when he gets out:he should have to spend the rest of his life with his girlfriend, Lyndie England and their child.

    I suppose all I can ask is "what the hell. Jeralyn?"  Even if you are saying that England is worse than Graner, are you actually saying that being with his child constitutes punishment?  What has the child done that could possible warrant this kind of vehemence?

    yep (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by DancingOpossum on Mon May 03, 2010 at 09:13:05 AM EST
    The class consciousness of some folks on the left never ceases to amaze me.

    I had the exact same thought, gyrfalcon.

    That aside, I agree with the general consensus here, the guy is a thug and unfortunately the military seems intent on attracting, breeding, and creating thugs. But I do believe that Garner, England and the rest were acting on orders from higher-ups, or at least with the full knowledge that their little transgressions wouldn't be a problem.

    Lots of people needed to go down for this.

    From a legal perspective, you're right. (none / 0) (#8)
    by Kimberley on Mon May 03, 2010 at 09:52:32 AM EST
    From a real world perspective: When people are too  stupid and lacking in character to know that these are the kinds of orders they're better off being wrung out of this military for disobeying--they deserve to go down alone.

    Darwin's supposed to have his way with anybody that can't see themselves being set up to take the fall in situations like this.


    Graner as a Pennsylvania prison guard (5.00 / 5) (#10)
    by Peter G on Mon May 03, 2010 at 10:54:45 AM EST
    My client Nick Yarris, who was exonerated of a kidnap-rape-murder by DNA testing after 21 years on death row in Pennsylvania, wrote a prison memoir called "7 Days to Live."  In Chapter 20, he describes how he encountered Charles Graner at the State Correctional Institution, Greene County, PA:  

    "I was wrapped up in just such thoughts one morning as I was cleaning up the breakfast tray spills when, on the tier above me, I saw a guard who was doing a head count stop outside one particular cell. I was standing under the opposite tier, near the bottom of the stairs, so basically I was in the shadow. The guard lifted up the metal flap covering the crack through which could be seen the slim features of the inmate - a middle-aged black man - talking to him. Then, as soon as he'd finished, and without a single word, the guard tossed the entire contents of his coffee cup into the prisoner's face and slammed the slot shut as the scalded inmate screamed in agony. Next the guard looked around quickly to check if anyone was watching before exiting through an upper-level door to the control booth.

    "Other inmates started banging on their cell doors calling for the nurse to be brought over to the scalded inmate. A few moments later, I was ordered into my cell by three officers who had come to investigate the disturbance. Once inside my cell I stood by the door and continued to watch as the three officers - one of whom was the guard who had tossed the coffee - stood in front of the black inmate's cell as he kicked wildly on his door and screamed in some Afro-Caribbean language. When he saw the guard who had scalded him he went completely berserk. The two other officers seemed to tacitly acknowledge what the inmate was trying to tell them about their colleague, but all three took it in turns to yell at him to shut up. But the more they told him to stop, the more he went off. Once the guards had given three un-responded-to commands, they went to get the `sticks and shields', so that they could enter his cell for extraction and forced medication by injection.

    "The prisoners in the surrounding cells yelled at full throttle as the three guards retreated down the stairs. As the one who had begun it all passed my door I looked him right in the face and read the name on his breast pocket: `Graner'. I had no clue who this man was, but I had just witnessed him not only burn the inmate with coffee but also become unhealthily excited about getting out the riot clubs and electrified shields.

    "I knew his type. He was an instigator who was happy to leave work having spent the day tormenting inmates who then went on to assault other staff who had nothing to do with the original incident. So many times I have seen defenceless staff be attacked for what their cruel colleagues have done. Graner was not a regular guard on my unit and I vowed to stay clear of him."

    No excuse (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by Lora on Mon May 03, 2010 at 08:13:34 PM EST
    Pleading that the higher-ups wanted you to behave like a vicious criminal toward helpless people is no excuse.

    Also, there's no excuse for not going after the higher-ups.

    Also, and especially, there's no excuse for not prosecuting the thugs who ran our government and put their stamp of approval on torture.

    TL, I'll disagree with you, but only slightly. (none / 0) (#2)
    by scribe on Mon May 03, 2010 at 08:11:19 AM EST
    I agree with his contention that he was acting as he understood his higher-ups wanted him to act. They wanted torture and they got it.

    That he was the man eager to deal out the torture and enjoy it was, as far as the higher-ups were concerned, a problem only insofar as it made for bad public relations and bad publicity.

    There was no mistake when the Army assigned this job to a company of hillbillies, servile to authoritarians and masquerading as MPs, having a horrific lack of discipline, morality and honor.  No mistake.  Anyone reading their DA 2715 or taking an hour to inspect their operations would have seen they were guaranteed trouble waiting to happen.

    Make no mistake:  Graner was and is a thug.  He got what a thug gets.  There is no excuse for him or his behavior.  Every military unit has at least one thug in it, sometimes in a position of authority and sometimes not.  The proper function of leadership in the unit is to carry out the missions, in an often highly-charged environment, without allowing the thuggery to take charge.  It failed of its own weakeness and was set up to fail.  What makes his case an exception is that (a) his company's leadership was weak and allowed him and his thuggishness to take over, (b) the higher levels of command wanted the behavior Graner evinced (and didn't care about the company's leadership, so long as they got thuggery), (c) he got caught and (d) he got punished for what he did.  

    But, of course, we should be looking ahead and not looking back, so let's all just file this away.  OK?

    "A company of hillbillies"? (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by gyrfalcon on Mon May 03, 2010 at 08:54:51 AM EST
    The class consciousness of some folks on the left never ceases to amaze me.

    I'm with you bro... (none / 0) (#3)
    by kdog on Mon May 03, 2010 at 08:43:03 AM EST
    Graner is an obvious sc*mbag, but they're a dime a dozen in this sick world.  The person or persons who gave him a position of authority and delievered victims in chains...thats the criminal mastermind in this sad sordid affair, not the two-bit sc*mbag Graner.

    Bless your heart! (none / 0) (#12)
    by Molly Pitcher on Mon May 03, 2010 at 01:18:31 PM EST
    "There was no mistake when the Army assigned this job to a company of hillbillies, servile to authoritarians and masquerading as MPs, having a horrific lack of discipline, morality and honor."

    Last I heard, one objection to us hillbillies was that we just automatically defy authority!  The question of discipline might be up in the air, but honor and morality (tho standards may be different from yours) are not strangers to the mountain folk.

    By golly, you echo Obama about 'bitter knitters' and the commentators' jibes about Appalachian racism fueling a preference for Hillary.


    In addtion to everything else (none / 0) (#7)
    by Kimberley on Mon May 03, 2010 at 09:37:50 AM EST
    that's wrong with Graner, he's also a coward.

    He should be on his knees every day, thanking his god that he comes from a society liberal enough to let the law handle him. If he came from a society that he was trying to model with his own behaviour, the only thing outside those walls he'd have to look forward to is visiting his entire bloodline and co-defendants in graveyards.

    Liberalism and rule of law... Turns out there are some damned good reasons for both of them.

    What about all the many Graners (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by jondee on Mon May 03, 2010 at 10:22:15 AM EST
    in this country who said, after the fact, that most what occurred at Abu Ghraib was comparable to a frat house hazing?

    Paging Dr Milgram..I think we're up to our elbows in
    Graners. Another one of the Sorrows of Empire.


    That was something. Wasn't it? (none / 0) (#11)
    by Kimberley on Mon May 03, 2010 at 11:19:35 AM EST
    People like that should just stick to fellating their "deciders". They only disrupt efforts to catapult propaganda when they use that stuff behind their eyes to think.

    Well, of course he acted at the behest... (none / 0) (#13)
    by lambert on Mon May 03, 2010 at 04:47:03 PM EST
    ... of "higher ups." Unless you believe the "bad apple" theory.

    true enough, and not the only thing: (none / 0) (#14)
    by cpinva on Mon May 03, 2010 at 05:10:48 PM EST
    Last I heard, one objection to us hillbillies was that we just automatically defy authority!

    the authority that graner defied was the whole body of US and international law, in keeping with the hillbilly tradition.

    no doubt graner got under-the-table orders, which he and his buds gleefully carried out. his stupidity goes beyond that however, he and his buds also took pictures, something i submit his superiors didn't have in mind.

    his superiors were smart enough (hey, that's why they're officers!) to ensure there was no trail leading directly to them. bottom line: graner is a morally bankrupt f*ckwit. while i hope someday the people that ordered these actions are brought before the law, i have zero sympathy for mr. graner.

    Jeralyn I don't mean to be glib (none / 0) (#15)
    by Socraticsilence on Mon May 03, 2010 at 06:16:44 PM EST
    but its amazing the difference between your treatment of Graner, and the attitude you extend to other individuals either charged with or convicted of heinous crimes- I mean the man certainly appears to deserve punishment but to do the whole "some criminals get more time so he should be quiet and take it" spiel when you have chided others for doing the same thing in for example the Polanski case is a bit odd. I guess I'm curious why Graner is so less deserving of your compassion than a man who was convicted of intercourse with a 13 year old and was charged with far, far worse- shouldn't Polanski have been quiet and taken a 5 to 10 year prison term, even if it violated his initial plea agreement?- I mean white collar criminals and drug offenders get worse every day?

    I have to agree (none / 0) (#17)
    by ZtoA on Mon May 03, 2010 at 08:49:05 PM EST
    but not so much about Polanski - I can see where a strong defender has many good points even though his actual actions were repulsive. Graner and England were beyond repulsive. But they did not slaughter 168 innocent people including 19 children under the age of six. They did not murder tots. And in that case I think a good defender is relevant too. In fact, Graner and England were only a part of the torture crimes - the 'go to' guys and the fall guy part. They tortured out of getting permission to and out of glee. They did not blindly and randomly slaughter out of cold blooded revenge. The two men kind of look alike tho and were probably around the same age when they did their crimes.

    Fair point (none / 0) (#19)
    by Socraticsilence on Tue May 04, 2010 at 10:22:43 AM EST
    The McVeigh thing is even more striking now- though I would assume that its Death Penalty opposition not other concerns in that case, I mean its literally impossible to denigrate Graner and defend McVeigh on a human level- whatever Graner's crimes and they were many and heinous- he wasn't a mass murder who indiscriminately took the lives of women and children.

    Run, not ran (none / 0) (#18)
    by DancingOpossum on Tue May 04, 2010 at 09:24:09 AM EST
    A different set of thugs is running the same game now. If you think this has changed or will change with Democrats in charge, I have some swampland in Florida for sale.

    No worries (none / 0) (#20)
    by Lora on Tue May 04, 2010 at 09:23:02 PM EST
    I know things have not changed.  Meet the new boss...