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May 7, 2004

Rumsfeld: More 'Inhuman' Iraq Prison Photos And Videos To Come

Reports Say Rape, Murder, Child Molestation Among Unreleased Images; Journo Claims Pics Were A 'Competition' Among Soldiers

By J.M. Berger

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld confirmed Friday during Senate testimony that some soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison videotaped prisoner abuse and other misconduct, amid official warnings that "the worst is yet to come."

"Beyond abuse of prisoners, there are other photos that depict incidents of physical violence toward prisoners, acts that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel and inhuman." Rumsfeld testified during his opening remarks. "Second, there are many more photographs, and indeed some videos."

During Senate testimony, Rumsfeld and members of the Senate panel said that the unreleased photos and videos were even more disturbing than those already published in the media.

"I want to prepare the public," Sen. Graham said during the session. "Apparently, the worst is yet to come, potentially, in terms of disturbing events. We don't need to leave here thinking that we've seen the worst."

Rumsfeld amplified on the unreleased material during his remarks. He confirmed that the contents of additional photos and videos not yet released are much worse than those already released.

"The pictures I've seen depict conduct, behavior that is so brutal and so cruel and so inhumane that anyone engaged in it or involved in it would have to be brought to justice," Rumsfeld said.

Later, he said the release of the pictures would be even more damaging than the first batch. Not a man prone to public displays of emotion, Rumsfeld became visibly agitated as he discussed reviewing the unreleased photos.

"If these are released to the public, obviously it's going to make matters worse," he said. "That's just a fact. I mean, I looked at them last night, and they're hard to believe."

After the session, Graham told reporters outside the chamber that there will be additional allegations of "rape and murder," apparently related to the content of the videos, according to NBC News.

New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh indicated as much earlier this week, saying that the videotapes depict sexual abuse of minors. Several reports also cited the existence of videotaped rape involving female prisoners.

"There was a special women's section. There were young boys in there. There were things done to young boys that were videotaped. It's much worse," Hersh said during an appearance on Fox News Tuesday.

NBC News reported further details Friday evening, quoting unnamed sources who said that the unreleased material showed a prisoner being beaten nearly to death, an Iraqi female being raped by American soldiers and male children being raped by Iraqi guards.

The L.A. Times reported that the unreleased material includes images of at least one detainee being forced to engage in oral sex. The Washington Post and NBC News both reported that the videos include images of soldiers posing "inappropriately" with a dead body, apparently a detainee slain in prison.

Rumsfeld declined to specifically discuss the contents of the video, citing the ongoing military/criminal investigations and the need to prevent any appearance of bias emanating from the chain of command.

Suhaib al-Baz, journalist for al Jazeerah television told British broadcaster ITV that the pictures were taken as part of a contest among the soldiers at the prison.

"They were enjoying taking photographs of the torture. There was a daily competition to see who could take the most gruesome picture," al-Baz told ITV. "The winner's photo would be stuck on a wall and also put on their laptop computers as a screensaver."

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