Ramadi Madness

From Holden:

Late last Friday the Army released a batch of documents regarding investigations of abuse of Iraqi detainees that resulted in no charges, pre-empting the ACLU’s planned release of the documents yesterday.

One of the cases included in this latest collection resulted from the Army’s investigation of a video documenting the abuse of a detainee who later died. The video was created and circulated widely among members of Bravo Company of the 124th Infantry Regiment [the Post explains, “It’s against military law to possess or distribute material documenting prisoner abuses.”].

The Army stated that video, known variously as “Ramadi Madness”, “Those Crafty Little Bastards”, and “Another Day, Another Mission, Another Scumbag”, had been destroyed. However, the Palm Beach Post obtained possession of a copy.

Here is the link to the Post’s scene by scene description of the video. On this page you will also find and links to all 16 scenes of the video itself (scroll down, on left, not for the faint of heart).

The Post describes the video and subsequent investigation.

Florida National Guard alerted the Army to Ramadi Madness, fearing the soldier-shot video was disturbing evidence of Iraqi prisoner abuse.

[snip]

[Civilian public affairs officer Jon] Myatt told Army investigators he was troubled by what they were watching and joking about: footage of a soldier kicking a wounded and moaning Iraqi prisoner; another soldier manipulating a corpse to wave “hi” to the camera; a group of soldiers joy-riding in an Iraqi van shouting at Iraqis on the street; and what appeared to him to be a soldier taking the butt of his rifle to a detainee.

“This video was disturbing,” Myatt said in a sworn statement. “These soldiers looked unprofessional and displayed a lack of discipline.”

Soon two investigators were scouring the state of Florida talking with nearly of the 120 soldiers in Bravo Company. The charges they were investigating were serious:

  • Assault consummated by a battery for kicking of wounded detainee.

  • Dereliction of duty for tampering with a dead body.

  • Assault with a dangerous weapon and aggravated assault for hitting a detainee with a rifle.

    Army investigators focused mainly on the kicking incident, documents show. Soldiers had raided a safe house for insurgents and shot a man who pulled a gun on them. The video shows the aftermath as soldiers point out the man’s bullet wound and he howls in pain. A voice off camera tells someone to gag the Iraqi, who then appears to be kicked.

    Investigators believed that a Bravo Company sergeant kicked the wounded man, but it was difficult to see his face. Army detectives said they couldn’t find a soldier who could positively identify who was responsible.

    When quizzed, the suspect sergeant said his memory had faded.

    “At this point, I cannot say if this person was me because of the time that has passed. The soldier is wearing similar gear to mine, which makes me believe it could be a possibility,” the sergeant said. The Army blacked out his name, and the names of all soldiers in the documents concerning the probe.

    Sgt. Chad Shadle, who compiled the video shot by another soldier, said the soldier was trying to keep the wounded man from revealing the unit’s location with his moans.

    “We were just trying to keep him quiet,” he told a Post reporter who visited his home Monday in Collier County.

    Shadle said the video was meant only to be seen by the circle of soldiers in Bravo Company. He said he put together the videotape out of boredom late one night.

    “People see what they want to see,” Shadle said. “They see abuse and want to cry foul. There was no abuse. I’d like to see these critics attacked every night, mortared every day. I’d like to see how they’d feel, how they’d react.”

    Shadle destroyed his copies upon learning the video was under Army investigation, records show

    [snip]

    It’s against military law to possess or distribute material documenting prisoner abuses.

    [snip]

    Keeping Ramadi Madness under wraps was a recurring theme in the Army’s investigative files. At one point, investigators learned that the video had been loaded onto a military computer server in Iraq. “A large number of people made a copy of the pictures,” a soldier said. “Everyone who could.”

    Damage control efforts kicked into high gear.

    “In efforts to prevent the possible leakage of this video to civilian media, copies of the Ramadi Madness video have been limited to (investigative) channels only,” one investigator wrote in a Sept. 13 memo.

    Maj. Joseph Lyon, the Bravo Company commander, told investigators: “I am going to address this … to minimize the risk of this and other videos that may end up in the media.”.

    This video documents serious violations of U.S., military, and international law. The Army and Bravo Company’s efforts to cover-up these crimes have compounded the criminal liability. Someone must be held to account for these war crimes.