Pentagon Probing Reports of U.S. Soldiers Posting Gruesome Photos from Iraq at Web site

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By: E&P Staff

UPDATE Wednesday 5:00 PM ET:

The U.S. Army after a brief inquiry has failed to determine whether U.S. soldiers provided grisly photos of people killed in the
Iraq war to a porn Web site in exchange for free access to it, officials said on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

The Army Criminal Investigation Command in Iraq conducted the preliminary inquiry within the past week but closed it after concluding no felony crime had been committed and failing to determine whether U.S. soldiers were responsible for the photos and whether they showed actual war dead, Army officials said.
Col. Joe Curtin, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon, said there currently was no formal investigation into the matter.

“We’re not blowing this off,” Curtin said. “If the Army thinks it’s in its interest to investigate something, we will. There are multiple challenges here. One is the anonymity of the sources, dates, times, locations, units, anything that is reasonably identifiable that we can work off of.”

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Our Tuesday report:

The Army is investigating complaints that soldiers posted photographs of mangled Iraqi corpses on an Internet site in exchange for access to pornographic images on the site, officials said Tuesday.

An Army spokesman, Col. Joseph Curtin, said the Criminal Investigation Division recently began investigating the matter on behalf of Lt. Gen. John Vines, commander of the Multinational Corps in Iraq.

The East Bay Express, a New Times weekly in Emeryville, Ca. last week published a lengthy story about the porn site, and interviewed its owner, who said he gave soldiers free access in exchange for photos of dead or mutilated Iraqis. The soldiers apparently had been having trouble subscribing to the site because of credit card problems. The Online Journalism Review also ran a prominent piece. AmericaBlog, a leading blog, then covered it widely this week, and included links to some of the photos.

Many of the photos depict dismembered or charred Iraqi corpses and body parts. It’s unclear if torture was involved before death. Some photos were also submitted by soldiers in Afghanistan.

An Islamic civil rights group said it wrote to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld objecting to the practice, which it said may violate international laws of war, and urging the Pentagon to bring it to an end.

“This disgusting trade in human misery is an insult to all those who have served in our nation’s military,” Arsalan Iftikhar, legal director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in his letter to Rumsfeld.

Bryan Whitman, a spokesman for Rumsfeld, told the Associated Press that the Pentagon had recently become aware of Internet postings and is looking into it.

“Obviously, it is an unacceptable practice,” Whitman said.

An Army spokesman, Paul Boyce, later told AP that the preliminary criminal inquiry determined, based on available evidence, that felony charges could not be pursued. But the matter, including the possibility of disciplinary action, was being handled in coordination with other military services, he said.

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