SAN DIEGO — Testifying behind a curtain to protect his identity, a CIA operative told a court-martial Tuesday that he saw a Navy SEAL "pummeling" a defenseless prisoner in Iraq. The operative said he saw the SEAL on the back of a prisoner, hitting him. He reported the October 2003 incident to the CIA's senior officer on the scene, who warned a Navy commander that such conduct was unacceptable, the operative said. Tuesday was the second day of the trial of Lt. Andrew K. Ledford, who is accused of allowing his SEALs to brutalize prisoners, including one who later died.
The CIA operative testified he and his superiors would never tolerate abuse of prisoners. His testimony differed markedly from that of a former SEAL, an enlisted man. Earlier Tuesday, former Petty Officer Dan Cerrillo testified under immunity that he was the SEAL beating the prisoner and pushing his face into the sand. But Cerrillo, who served under Ledford in Foxtrot Platoon, said he was acting on the orders of "those people we're not supposed to talk about" — one of the euphemisms witnesses and attorneys use to avoid mentioning the CIA. (Other phrases include "the agency," "another governmental agency" and "security personnel.") (MORE)