BAGHDAD (Reuters) – A former head of the U.S. Guantanamo Bay jail in Cuba has been sent to Iraq to ensure proper prison conditions, after photos apparently showed U.S. soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners, the military said on Friday.
The photos appeared to show U.S. soldiers at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad run by the military posing and laughing as naked, male prisoners were stacked in a pyramid or made to simulate sex acts with one another.
The pictures were also shown on Arab television, outraging Arabs already embittered by the U.S. invasion and occupation of an Arab country, and seemed sure to further alienate Iraqis whose resentment of Washington has fired two simultaneous uprisings.
“Major General Geoffrey Miller, who was running the Guantanamo operations, is now on the ground serving as deputy manager for detention operations,” Brigadier-General Mark Kimmitt, spokesman for U.S. forces in Iraq, told a news conference in Baghdad.
Kimmitt said Miller would help ensure proper detention and interrogation practices in Iraq.
Controversy has also surrounded the Guantanamo camp because terror suspects have been held there with no charges or legal representation. Photos of detainees shackled and being forced to kneel in chain link cages sparked international outrage.
Kimmitt said Iraq’s U.S. occupiers were now training jailers to prevent a repeat of the events photographed at Abu Ghraib, and said the graphic images did not accurately reflect the intentions of actions of the U.S. military.
“We are taking as a coalition, as an army, very aggressive steps to ensure that the risk of this happening again is absolutely minimized,” Kimmitt said.
“We are absolutely appalled by what we saw. There was no excuse for what you see in those photos. I’m not going to stand up here and try to apologize for what those soldiers did. Those soldiers let us down, they simply let us down,” he said.
President Bush, asked his reaction to the photos, expressed his disgust, saying: “I didn’t like it one bit.”