Downie Says ‘Post’ Received New Prison Photos Only Yesterday

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By: Joe Strupp

The new photos, video and documents on detailing abuse of Abu Ghraib prisoners were all obtained on Thursday, said Leonard Downie Jr., executive editor of The Washington Post.

“We have been seeking more information about exactly what happened in that cell block,” Downie said. “They appear to be the same (photos) that Congress had viewed. We believe it is a way to advance the story for our readers.”

When asked if the paper expected to publish more pictures or proof of prison abuse in Iraq, Downie said only: “We will see where our reporting takes us.”

Downie would not say how the new information was obtained, or if the video, photos and documents came from the same source.

In any case, these apparently are not from the cache of more than 1,000 pictures the Post (Click for QuikCap) has had for some time, from which the newspaper has only selected a few images for public airing. Many are believed to be simply “tourist” shots.

The video available on the Post Web site — a new addition to the controversy — shows detainees being forced to crouch naked and undergo at least some physical abuse.

In addition, the Post also offers what it claims to be sworn testimony from 13 prisoners, apparently taken by authorities in January, which reveals allegations of severe torture and abuse by military guards. The testimony, according to the paper, includes descriptions of prisoners being ridden like animals, sexually fondled by female soldiers, and forced to retrieve their food from toilets.

On the video, a 57-second clip of which is viewable on, several military guards are seen forcing detainees to crouch naked, with their hands tied behind them and hoods over their heads, and crawl around the cell block. At least one prisoner is slapped in the short clip.

Aside from offering a new perspective on the ongoing controversy, the Post’s report today shows how a newspaper can utilize its Web site to go beyond the print publication. Placing the video on the Web, along with the copies of documents, adds a dimension to coverage that would not otherwise be there. “This is what is newsworthy, what advances the story and what is least objectionable for a family newspaper,” Downie said.

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