Army Investigates Photos of Iraqi War Dead

Thom Shanker, New York Times, 9/28/05

WASHINGTON – The Army has opened an investigation into whether American troops have sent gruesome photographs of Iraqi war dead to an Internet site where the soldiers were given free access to online pornography, Army officials said Tuesday.

Some photographs on the Internet site show people in American military uniforms standing around what appear to be dead bodies. Other photos include graphic images of severed body parts and what appear to be internal organs spilling from bodies onto the ground.

The images are said to come from Afghanistan as well as Iraq. Their authenticity has not been determined.

Paul Boyce, an Army spokesman, said that if soldiers had posted the images, their actions could violate the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which defines conduct unbecoming an officer or enlisted soldier.

Another Pentagon official who reviewed the Web site said it raised questions, as well, of whether the acts could be viewed as a violation of the Geneva Conventions, which set standards for treatment of remains of those killed in a combat zone.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based civil rights and advocacy group, called for an investigation after details of the photographs were described in news media and online reports.

Arsalan Iftikhar, the group’s legal director, asked Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to ”investigate this troubling phenomenon and do whatever is necessary to bring it to an end.”

On the Web site, the photographs are set aside from the pornographic images that are its standard content. Those who provided the pictures often included crude captions. But there is also some discussion about the war, its purpose and conduct.

“I think it’s really a disturbing phenomenon to see that our military personnel would be engaging in such inappropriate behavior, behavior that brings dishonor to the military,” Ibrahim Hooper, the spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in a telephone interview.


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