Charles Graner, Abu Ghraib Prison Guard from Hell, Released

Charles Graner, the prison guard from Hell, has been released after serving 6 1/2 years of his 10 year sentence for torturing prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

At his trial, his lawyer claimed he was only acting as a cheerleader:

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.


At his sentencing, Graner claimed:

Graner described himself as a by-the-book prison guard from rural Pennsylvania who was corrupted by superiors. He said he initially resisted pressure to physically mistreat and sexually humiliate prisoners, but his Army superiors made it clear to him that he was expected to obey the commands of the military and civilian intelligence agents who ran his part of Abu Ghraib. Graner said a lieutenant in his unit told him, "If (military intelligence) asks you to do this, it needs to be done. They're in charge, follow their orders."

Graner was a bad apple as a prison guard long before Abu Ghraib. He was also a monster at home.

Graner married Staci Dean in 1990, after she had become pregnant with the first of their two children. Their marriage ended in 2002 in a bitter divorce. Police were called to the home in March 2001, after the couple had separated. In Fayette County court papers, Staci Graner, who has since remarried and declined to be interviewed, reported that her husband came into the room where she was sleeping and yanked her head by the hair, banged her head against a wall, and tried to throw her down the steps. Criminal charges were not filed.

His ex-wife called him Hannibel Lechter. He was proud of the torture, and even sent photos home to his kids:

Morris, 34, a nurse who has remarried and lives outside Pittsburgh, said the former U.S. prison guard now serving a 10-year sentence would proudly e-mail his children photos showing tough treatment of Iraqi prisoners. He would send photos of "these beat up prisoners and blood and talk about how cool it was - look what daddy gets to do," she said, adding that she did not show them the correspondence.

Graner transmitted pictures of the mentally ill prisoner who was the man at the end of England's leash. In one photo the man was covered in his feces....Some of the e-mails Graner sent to family and friends were cited in his January court-martial.

Not surprisingly, she says the kids thought his sentence was too light.

Graner's e-mails were admitted at his trial. They are disgusting.

In one e-mail, he described beating on prisoners as "a good upper-body workout, but hard on the hands."

"The guys give me hell for not getting any pictures while I was fighting this guy," said the message, titled "just another dull night at work," with the photograph of the howling, bound, bleeding detainee, according to the Times. The paper also reported that Graner responded to an e-mail message about a Take Your Children to Work Day event, "how about send a bastard to hell day?" attaching a photograph of a detainee's head bloodied beyond recognition.

A photo of him stitched a detainee's wound had the note, "Things may have gotten a bit bad when we were asking him a couple of questions. O well," and a message with a similar photo read, "Not only was I the healer, I was the hurter. O well life goes on," the Times reported.

Graner didn't marry Lynndie England after his divorce, even though she had his baby. Instead, he married former Abu Ghraib guard Megan Ambuhl, who also was embroiled and convicted in the prisoner abuse scandal (she didn't get jail time.)

The mainstream U.S. press published sanitized photos. You can see some of the others here that were obtained by the ACLU in a lawsuit. And an assortment from Salon here.

Our past coverage of Graner's case is accessible here.Our coverage of Abu Ghraib is assembled here.

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  • Display: Sort:
    is it OK to ask (5.00 / 3) (#4)
    by The Addams Family on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 10:24:43 PM EST
    on a criminal defense site why the following people are not in The Hague?

    George W. Bush
    Dick Cheney
    Donald Rumsfeld
    John Yoo

    who did i miss?

    Add to the list (5.00 / 5) (#5)
    by caseyOR on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 10:57:16 PM EST
    Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, David Addington, Paul Bremer, John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzalez.

    I'm sure there are others.


    don't forget florida bad boy (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by cpinva on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 11:23:11 PM EST
    alan west. he should have been court martialed, but i'll settle for an international war crimes tribunal.

    I think (5.00 / 5) (#8)
    by lentinel on Sun Aug 07, 2011 at 07:42:05 AM EST
    a special award should go out to Condi and Colin for helping to make all this possible.

    You may (5.00 / 4) (#7)
    by lentinel on Sun Aug 07, 2011 at 07:40:31 AM EST
    have missed a few, but those guys deserve immediate seating in the dock.

    But you know who missed everybody: Obama.

    He, as you know, wants to "move on" - so that we don't move on.


    For a very interesting opinion, (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by KeysDan on Sun Aug 07, 2011 at 10:04:14 AM EST
    see "What Happened to Obama?" NYT, August 7, 20ll, Sunday Review Section, by Dr. Andrew Westen, professor of psychology at Emory University.  A recommended read.

    Really? (none / 0) (#12)
    by Robot Porter on Sun Aug 07, 2011 at 10:26:17 AM EST
    I thought it was a wishy-washy waste of time.  A long, long essay which comes to no conclusion.  Very, vary lame.

    Robot, I agree (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by KeysDan on Sun Aug 07, 2011 at 10:54:13 AM EST
    it is long.

    Heh ...` (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Robot Porter on Sun Aug 07, 2011 at 06:04:07 PM EST
    very amusing.

    Westen presents (none / 0) (#15)
    by The Addams Family on Sun Aug 07, 2011 at 02:07:43 PM EST
    several hypotheses, some charitable & some less so

    ultimately, though, the portrait he paints is that of an ambitious & cosseted empty suit


    A disgusting episode in our history (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by mmc9431 on Sun Aug 07, 2011 at 08:32:48 AM EST
    I will never forgive my government for doing this in my name. I also will never forgive my country for sweeping it all under the rug.

    You'll never convince me that this was just a rogue group of soldiers who took these actions upon themselves.

    How can we pretend to be a beacon for human rights throughout the world when we do (and condone) actions like this?

    Hopefully history will not forget this and the truth will finally be told. (That is if Texas doesn't write the books).

    I think it's been ... (5.00 / 3) (#13)
    by Robot Porter on Sun Aug 07, 2011 at 10:29:11 AM EST
    clear shown, to anyone with the eyes to see it, that it wasn't a rogue group of soldiers.  But policy from the top.  And I'm not wholly convinced that this policy has ended.

    in fairness, (none / 0) (#1)
    by cpinva on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 09:38:27 PM EST
    mr. womack was partially correct. cheerleaders all over america do the pyramid thing. of course, they generally don't do it at the point of a gun. that kind of makes all the difference.

    i expect we'll be hearing from mr. graner soon, people tend to not change much.

    show on FOX? (none / 0) (#10)
    by The Addams Family on Sun Aug 07, 2011 at 09:43:09 AM EST
    i expect we'll be hearing from mr. graner soon

    maybe a shock-jock radio gig - buddy show with Ollie North


    long sentence (none / 0) (#17)
    by diogenes on Sun Aug 07, 2011 at 03:07:33 PM EST
    "Not surprisingly, she says the kids thought his sentence was too light."

    Obviously the six year sentence was meant to be a deterrent to others and to be a punishment rather than to rehabilitate the prisoner or contain him (I doubt he's going to be in the Army again).  I'm glad that people are coming around to my view about the role of prisons in the USA.

    Just wondering (none / 0) (#18)
    by sj on Sun Aug 07, 2011 at 03:58:56 PM EST
    how one is de-sociopathed via rehabilitation.  This is a war crime not a drug bust.

    There are crimes and then there are crimes.


    As an immigrant, (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by NYShooter on Sun Aug 07, 2011 at 06:04:53 PM EST
     coming here from war-torn Russia after the War, the question that was popular in those days was, "could it happen here?" They were, of course, talking about The Holocaust, and other Crimes against Humanity. In my heart, and as a new "American," I thought, and stated, "Absolutely Not!"

    The Abu Ghraib "incident" has, however," shaken me to the core of my being. If the question were asked of me today, I would, at least, remove the "!" from my response.      


    My point exactly... (none / 0) (#22)
    by diogenes on Mon Aug 08, 2011 at 08:30:15 PM EST
    I'm glad that others recognize that you can't rehabilitate sociopaths and that six and one half year sentences are too short.

    Speaking of Cheerleaders (none / 0) (#21)
    by john horse on Mon Aug 08, 2011 at 05:53:52 AM EST
    It was Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld who encouraged monsters like Graner to "take off the gloves."  I have no problem with Grander going to jail and I completely agree with "The Adams Family" that the higher-ups, including Bush, should be prosecuted.