Lisa Ashkenaz Croke has an excellent article in the New Standard today that compares the Washington Post’s reporting on statements of witness to the abuse of children in Abu Ghraib to the actual witness statements themselves. She finds that the Post changed the statements to protect the guilty.
In a May 21 piece on the previously unreported witness statements from Abu Ghraib prisoners, the Washington Post reported the account of detainee Kasim Mehaddi Hilas. According to the Post, Hilas, whom American personnel had been beaten, stripped, photographed and threatened with sexual assault, also witnessed a teenaged boy being raped in October 2003 at Abu Ghraib by someone the Post identified as “an Army translator.”
Curiously, the paragraph following the account begins, “Hilas, like other detainees interviewed by the military, said he could not identify some of the soldiers because they either covered their name patches or did not wear uniforms.” The implication is that Hilas did not know the assailant’s name.
The Post’s website hosts links to the 14 sworn statements taken by Army investigators in January. Hilas’ actual statement, excerpted in the Sunday Herald, reveals that Hilas actually did name the assailant, but notes that the soldier’s name has been is censored from the report.
In fact, the copy carried on the Post’s site shows this deletion to Hilas’ statement, which makes no mention of an Army translator, only the rapist: “I saw [deleted] who was wearing the military uniform,” adding that a female soldier was taking pictures. This deletion is significant because both his statement and the Post story do name some US personnel involved with abusing adult prisoners.
According to Rolling Stone, Abu Hamid is the name of the translator who raped the teenaged boy. “I saw Abu Hamid, who was wearing the military uniform, putting his dick in the little kid’s ass,” reads Rolling Stone’s July 28 story, though the name was not reported by the Sunday Herald weeks later.
The Sunday Herald did report the statement of detainee Thaar Salman Dawod, mentioned in neither the Washington Post’s nor Rolling Stone’s articles, who recounted his own abuse at Abu Ghraib and said he witnessed “a lot of people getting naked for a few days getting punished in the first days of Ramadan.”
According to Dawod’s statement — which can be found on the Post’s website but was not reported in May — two boys were brought in to the cellblock, naked and “cuffed together face to face, and Graner [Specialist Charles A. Graner Jr, of the 372nd Military Police Company] was beating them and a group of guards were watching and taking pictures from top and bottom and there was three female soldiers laughing at the prisoners. The prisoners, two of them, were young. I don’t know their names.”