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February 22, 2024

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Face of Abu Ghraib scandal apologizes for appearing in detainee photographs

BERLIN – Lynndie England, the public face of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, told a German news magazine that she was sorry for appearing in photographs of detainees in the notorious Iraqi prison, and believes the scenes of torture and humiliation served as a powerful rallying point for anti-American insurgents.

In an interview with the weekly magazine Stern conducted in English and posted on its Web site yesterday, England was both remorseful and unrepentant – and conceded that the published photos surely incensed insurgents in Iraq.

“I guess after the picture came out the insurgency picked up and Iraqis attacked the Americans and the British and they attacked in return and they were just killing each other. I felt bad about it … no, I felt pissed off. If the media hadn’t exposed the pictures to that extent, then thousands of lives would have been saved,” she was quoted as saying.

Asked how she could blame the media for the controversy, she said it wasn’t her who leaked the photos.

“Yeah, I took the photos but I didn’t make it worldwide. Yes, I was in five or six pictures and I took some pictures, and those pictures were shameful and degrading to the Iraqis and to our government,” she said, according to the report.

“And I feel sorry and wrong about what I did. But it would not have escalated to what it did all over the world if it wouldn’t have been for someone leaking it to the media.”

England, who was a private first class, was in several images taken in late 2003 by U.S. guards at Abu Ghraib. One showed her holding a naked prisoner on a leash, while in others she posed with a pyramid of naked detainees and pointed at the genitals of a prisoner while a cigarette hung from the corner of her mouth.

Asked by the magazine if what happened at Abu Ghraib was a scandal or something that happens during wartime, England said it was the latter.

“I’m saying that what we did happens in war. It just isn’t documented,” she was quoted as saying. “If it had been broken by the news without the pictures it wouldn’t have been that big.”

She told the magazine that there are other photographs that have not been released that contain more graphic images than those that were seen on television, in newspapers and on the Internet.

“You see the dogs biting the prisoners. Or you see bite marks from the dogs. You can see MPs (military police) holding down a prisoner so a medic can give him a shot,” she said. “If those had been made public at the time, then the whole world would have looked at those and not at mine.”

England was released in March 2007 after serving half her 36-month sentence. She was convicted of six counts involving prisoner mistreatment.

England said she is living with her parents in Fort Ashby, W.Va., along with her son, Carter, whose father is Charles Graner Jr., the reputed ringleader of those who took the pictures. They were both members of the 372nd Military Police Company based in western Maryland.

Eleven U.S. soldiers were convicted of crimes at the prison near Baghdad. Graner received the harshest sentence, a 10-year prison term.

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