portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reposts global

imperialism & war

Pfc. England: I was told to smile for psy ops photos

Ra'Shadd said England was pulled into the situations by intelligence agents who subverted the military chain of command. He said they used England to humiliate the men being photographed so they could show the pictures to more important prisoners and threaten them with the same treatment.

"The spooks took over the jail," said Ra'Shadd. Now in private practice, he was formerly an Army lawyer assigned to the civil affairs and psychological operations command at Fort Bragg.
Pfc. England: I was told to smile for photos to put psychological pressure on Iraqi prisoners
ESTES THOMPSON, Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


(05-12) 06:16 PDT FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) --

The Army private facing a court-martial for being photographed with naked Iraqi prisoners says she was following orders to create psychological pressure on them.

Pfc. Lynndie England told KCNC-TV in Denver on Tuesday that her superiors gave her specific instructions on how to pose for the photos. Asked who gave the orders, she would say only, "Persons in my chain of command."

In photographs that have been shown worldwide, England, 21, is seen smiling, cigarette in her mouth, as she leans forward and points at the genitals of a naked, hooded Iraqi. Another photo taken at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison shows her holding a leash that encircles the neck of a naked Iraqi man lying on his side.

"I was instructed by persons in higher rank to `stand there, hold this leash, look at the camera,' and they took picture for PsyOps (psychological operations)," she told the station.

"I didn't really, I mean, want to be in any pictures," she said. She also said she thought "it was kind of weird."

The interview with England, a military reservist from West Virginia, was taped Tuesday in North Carolina. England, who is now at Fort Bragg, also met Tuesday with one of a team of Denver lawyers who have volunteered to take her case.

Asked whether worse things happened than those already seen on the photos, she said yes but declined to elaborate.

She said her superiors praised the photos and "just told us, 'Hey, you're doing great, keep it up."'

England faces a military court-martial that includes charges such as conspiracy to maltreat prisoners and assault consummated by battery, and could face punishment ranging from a reprimand to more than 15 years in prison.

No date has been set for a hearing in the case.

Six other soldiers from the 372nd Military Police Company are also charged. One, Spc. Jeremy C. Sivits of Hyndman, Pa., will face a court-martial in Baghdad next week.

"We don't feel like we were doing things that we weren't supposed to because we were told to do them," England said. "We think everything was justified because we were instructed to do this and to do that."

After meeting with England, attorney Giorgio Ra'Shadd said she shouldn't be used as a scapegoat by the military.

"You don't see my client doing anything abusive at all," Ra'Shadd said in an interview. "I think she was ordered to smile."

Ra'Shadd said England was pulled into the situations by intelligence agents who subverted the military chain of command. He said they used England to humiliate the men being photographed so they could show the pictures to more important prisoners and threaten them with the same treatment.

"The spooks took over the jail," said Ra'Shadd. Now in private practice, he was formerly an Army lawyer assigned to the civil affairs and psychological operations command at Fort Bragg.

Also Tuesday, Pentagon officials told a Senate committee that the prison conditions shown in the pictures were confined to a few low-level soldiers and intelligence officers.

But Ra'Shadd contended that the blame for the scandal lies high up in the chain of command, arguing that only the highest-ranking officials could have allowed civilian intelligence to override military command structure.

You can be held accountable for following an illegal order. 12.May.2004 16:47

Hi

Yeah, sure private moron...
-------------
SFC Snider grabbed my prisoner and threw him into a pile. . . . I do not think it was right to put them in a pile. I saw SSG Frederic, SGT Davis and CPL Graner walking around the pile hitting the prisoners. I remember SSG Frederick hitting one prisoner in the side of its [sic] ribcage. The prisoner was no danger to SSG Frederick. . . . I left after that.

When he returned later, Wisdom testified:

I saw two naked detainees, one masturbating to another kneeling with its mouth open. I thought I should just get out of there. I didn't think it was right . . . I saw SSG Frederick walking towards me, and he said, "Look what these animals do when you leave them alone for two seconds." I heard PFC England shout out, "He's getting hard."

Wisdom testified that he told his superiors what had happened, and assumed that "the issue was taken care of." He said, "I just didn't want to be part of anything that looked criminal."
-------------
From the New Yorker article

I wonder if she was ordered to force her mom to masturbate for her superiors if she'd do that to? Wonder if she was the female thats alleged to have filmed the rapes of young boys?

no orders, no brains 12.May.2004 17:43

ben der

Sheīs an idiot.
All one has to say is no.
No one ordered who to do it. No one would.
And the military teaches you to obey an order UNLESS you think it is illegal or wrong.
Courts martial for disobeying an illegal order in the military is nothing compared to conviction of obeying an illegal order.

In this digital camera crazed world one always must ask themselves, do I want this picture of me plastered all over the internet? Will I then be made out to be a fool or idiot?

but... 12.May.2004 21:55

watching

...let us not forget that many military minded folks are ignorant and do follow orders to the T, not even questioning whether what they are told to do is right or wrong; they simply follow the orders given them. only someone that is unable to think for themselves would willingly put themselves in the controlling grip of the military.

she also says that she was told that she was "doing great", praise from her higher-ups likely fueled her behavior. and private england said:
"We don't feel like we were doing things that we weren't supposed to because we were told to do them," England said. "We think everything was justified because we were instructed to do this and to do that."

there is a certain mentality that goes along with being a soldier. deep down we all know when something is wrong but if we grew up with the message to not question authority, we may well "force her mom to masturbate for her superiors if she'd do that to".

Child Molesters 12.May.2004 22:45

bedouin

One of the crucial goals in basic training is the transformation of a self-determining individual and subordination of private personhood. One component of this is transfer of control of one's actions to military members of superior rank. Make no mistake, this process has been perfected for the purposes at hand. It is reinforced continuously.

All through basic training, the trainee receives exposure to great disappointment and accusations of failure, while at the same time the only lifeline for self respect and atonement is to please the superior rank. While the superior rank will treat the lower rank with disdain and even "pull the rug out" from time to time, the subordinate's trust and reliance on the "wisdom" and "insight" of the superior is strengthened. The good soldier never questions. Basic training never instructs concerning orders that aren't to be followed or disobeyed. To do that would be to bring personhood and individual decision back into play, which is what the whole indocrination and brainwashing process seeks to smother.

It sounds plausible that the bastards on the interrogation and intel details simply found a dupe PFC, so far from those W.VA hills, eager to please. I don't see where a rural recruit, certainly unwise to the ways of the world, is a match for wise ass, adult conmen, skilled in duplicity, deception and the subordination of truth, with blank check sanctions--CIA and revolving door contractors, flashing their sophistication, arrogance and immunity from all laws and letting the young boot in on their "big kids" tricks. ("Hey, England, ya wanna help us out?")

In the shadow of Adolf Eichmann, however, it is an individual decision, just how deep one wants to get into the sewer of war--but there are formidable obstacles to exercising that decision. She can't claim innocence. But she can claim that she 'was following orders.' I would believe that.

The ones to go before the firing squad are the ones giving the orders--all the way up to Donald Rumsfeld.

I hope this naked distinction between subordinates and superiors in the military culture gets out to every young person before she or he signs enlistment papers.

Get real 13.May.2004 15:46

Ben Der

Pfc. Lynndie England appears to have been the slut of the prison. She not only couldnīt say no to posing in the photos with the Iraqi men, she couldnīt say no to about any guy there. (Wait for Penthouse or Hustler or some porn website to offer her some big $$$$ deal to pose in their magazines & sites.)
Here, read the story from the NY Post:
-----------

May 13, 2004 -- WASHINGTON - Shocking shots of sexcapades involving Pfc. Lynndie England were among the hundreds of X-rated photos and videos from the Abu Ghraib prison scandal shown to lawmakers in a top-secret Capitol conference room yesterday.

"She was having sex with numerous partners. It appeared to be consensual," said a lawmaker who saw the photos.

And, videos showed the disgraced soldier - made notorious in a photo showing her holding a leash looped around an Iraqi prisoner's neck - engaged in graphic sex acts with other soldiers in front of Iraqi prisoners, Pentagon officials told NBC Nightly News.

"Almost everybody was naked all the time," another lawmaker said.

Many members of Congress left the 45-minute viewing session early, thereby missing the porno performance by England, but there were enough other images of torture, humiliation and intimidation to sicken anyone.

"It was pretty disgusting, not what you'd expect from Americans," said Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.). "There was lots of sexual stuff - not of the Iraqis, but of our troops."

---------
If PFC England is old enough to decide to have sex with lots of troops in the prison and have photos taken of it, she is old enough to take responsibility to say no to standing in some photos. Donīt blame hire ups for this idiotīs behaviour.

To Bedouin 13.May.2004 16:00

Sam Johnston

Bedouin writes: "The good soldier never questions. Basic training never instructs concerning orders that aren't to be followed or disobeyed."

This is bullsh*t. I was in the military. Good soldiers always ask questions. Basic training instructs one not to follow an order that they think is illegal or wrong.
To quote all the other activists at this site: "Stop spreading the misinformation."

And you write: "But she can claim that she 'was following orders.' I would believe that."
Guess what - she says she was never given orders to do it and wonīt say who told her to do it.
Why? One of the soldiers there during the photo taking that was with her got her pregnant! These werenīt hire ups telling her what to do, these were fellow soldiers she was having sex with.
From what I just read above The Senate has been looking at all her sexcapade photos.

Before you start ranting against Rumsfeld and others - get the facts.

I don't think she can make a valid claim to have been, 'following orders' 13.May.2004 16:04

Hi

I think there's more to it than that (or much less depending how you look at it)

Here's an excerpt from a recent article:
----------
A female soldier at the centre of the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal was photographed having sex with other military guards, sometimes in front of detainees, senators said today.

Private First Class Lynndie England has already become the face of the scandal, shown in pictures pointing at a naked Iraqi and holding another by a leash.

She has claimed she was following orders from senior personnel and the photos were used to terrify other inmates into talking.

But unpublished photographs show Pte England engaged in sex acts with other soldiers, some senators told NBC.

The 100 senators were able to view hundreds of sickening pictures of prisoner abuse last night - images which the Pentagon now say will not be made publicly available.

"She was having sex with numerous partners. It appeared to be consensual," said one senator.

"Almost everybody was naked all the time," another said.

---------------
 http://www.breakingnews.ie/2004/05/13/story147437.html

remember nuremberg 13.May.2004 16:58

refusal

"Courts martial for disobeying an illegal order in the military is nothing compared to conviction of obeying an illegal order."

"Basic training instructs one not to follow an order that they think is illegal or wrong."

So I'm free to start giving this information to the soldiers I know telling them that they can return home and refuse to continue with their orders for an illegal occupation of Iraq?

Soldiers are smarter than that; they know the consequences for disobeying orders, which is the only reason the military can do what it does. If every soldier who didn't believe in the invasion of Iraq could leave there would be huge problems.

My guess is that she may not have been "ordered" as much as "asked" by her superiors and rewarded and praised for her compliance. That would have been the wise thing to do so long as she would go along with it.

Be careful with the "soldiers are allowed to disobey orders" spin; it might come back to bite you on the ass. I guess I'll know what to tell people who get drafted...

Yeah that's the magic ticket to make it all go away 13.May.2004 18:51

Trivialize the perv

"These werenīt hire ups telling her what to do, these were fellow soldiers she was having sex with. From what I just read above The Senate has been looking at all her sexcapade photos."

Really? Was she having sex with the entire list of abusers in the Taguba report, and the abusers that the Red Cross would cite if not for confidentiality, and the abusers referred to by the former Iraqi human rights commissioner, and the torturers at Guantanamo, and the torturers of Saddam? What an impossibly mobile temptress she must be. Sorry, no dice, I just don't think her appetites are behind all of this.

For accuracy, instead of "torture", read the official orders, "soften them up". Whatever that means, there are astonishing parallels in some of the ways its been interpreted. As for the pics of consentual sex, I have no idea how they even got in the "abuse" folder other than to be a distraction in this circus, they are not the issue at all, are they?

"Before you start ranting against Rumsfeld and others - get the facts."

Since when have the facts not given me plenty to rant about when it comes to Scumsfeld and others?

Reprehensible Rumsfeld 13.May.2004 19:09

Cheney Watch

During Scumsfield's recent surprise visit to the prison camp, he actually had the audacity to say to the troops:

"I've stopped reading newspapers. You've got to keep your sanity somehow. I'm a survivor."

and

"It's generally a lot more fun here [in Iraq] than it is back home."

Sure, it's easy to be a survivor when you're sitting on your fat ass with your hands over your eyes in Washington DC, ordering other people into combat.

This is the individual our pResident lauds for doing a "superlative" job in the war on terrorism . . . the person we are all supposed to be grateful to.

Prisoners are not "Its", but men and women 13.May.2004 19:14

Curious George

So Wisdom refers to an Iraqi detainee as "it" rather than "he" or "she". Depersonalizing and dehumanizing prisoners makes it easier to see them as non-people which makes it simpler to rationalize brutalizing and using them. Same thing happens in some animal experimentation facilities.

Reply to Comments from Ben Der and Sam Johnston 14.May.2004 01:02

bedouin

Ben Der:
Pfc Lynndie England's purported sexual relations with one or more fellow soldiers, as described in the NY Post story, has what to do with her apparent involvement in prisoner/detainee abuse--other than maybe she likes to have her picture taken? Unless, of course, those sexual relations were non-consensual.

Risky behavior, to be sure. Possibly even emotional compensation.

The Kafkaesque wierdness of being low-life cannon fodder in the bogus Iraqi Freedom quagmire (while getting glimpses, looking up from the economic conscripts' snake pit, of the revived Southeast Asia floating crap game of freewheeling mercenaries' and corporate crony contractors' pockets bulging with cash) superimposed on being assigned to duty in the Apocolypse Now twilight zone of a busy-work military intel/CIA torture chamber isn't conducive to self-affirming behavior.

It's beginning to look like there's little doubt that they're going to let her take the fall. I hope she has damned good legal counsel and that she will drag down the Generals, the Colonels, the Lts and Sgts. It should go all the way to the war criminals hiding in the Pentagon.



Ben Der and Sam Johnston:

I won't dispute that at some point in basic training, even periodically reinforced by service wide bulletins from HQ, in effusive, cryptic milspeak, that...well, I can only call it lip service, but that even elevates it...leaders are to guard against behavior of those under their command being "prejudicial to good order and discipline", or some such symbolic token, that most often serves to reaquaint with the terminology that can get one hung if one "fucks up"in the extreme--e.g damage government equipment through wilful negligence or not follow orders, for example. Similarly, there might be a token reminder that the member is responsible for obeying only lawful orders.

But that sets the barracks lawyers off in parsing "lawful order." Shoot the General? No, sir. Steal from the morale fund? No, sir. But what of "going with the flow", "maintaining unit cohesion"...?

I can't dispute your experience (was it as a recruiter, Sam?), but recalling mine and that of most others with whom the subject has come up with me, it basically amounted to "do what you want, but don't get caught." Sort of like contemporary law enforcement, come to think of it.

While this doesn't say that one is free to *unilaterally* embark on behavior that breaks ranks, it doesn't give one who is a link in a chain of command much freedom to think for oneself in a milieu of suspension of the Geneva conventions, and any damn law at all! (The "Geneva conventions" have been tremblingly dusted off over the past couple of weeks in ass-covering congressional testimony, but it can be safely said that under the Bu$h impregnated 911 panic, Ashcroftian anti-terrorist fever and Pentagon "go deep, sweep it all up", in the "hunt for Ossama", due process regarding the inhabitants of, as it happens, the Muslim cultures that the U$ military and CIA have invaded and occupied, has been abandoned.) The Bu$h regime cranked up its own "findings", giving it legal license to do about any damn thing it wants, when it comes to detainees, prisoners, or just plain harassing "rag heads." This has permeated through to the general conduct of the Iraq occupation. Ends justify means.

And having no Skull and Bones credentials, the working class Pfc England, for "seeing the world", will carry the can for those savier higher ups who "didn't get caught" and have the right connections, in their campaign to distance themselves as leaders, from whom she was brainwashed to take orders and guidance, from her acts "of nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces through her mistreatment of Iraqi detainees."

All the way up to the arch perpetrator himself, Donald Rumsfeld.