View Full Version : Lawyer likens piling of prisoners to cheerleading

01-10-2005, 11:38 AM
Abu Ghraib trial begins

Updated: 1:17 p.m. ET Jan. 10, 2005FORT HOOD, Texas -

The military lawyer for Spc. Charles Graner, the accused ringleader in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, on Monday defended piling naked prisoners in pyramids as valid prisoner control and compared it to shows by cheerleaders.

"Don't cheerleaders all over America form pyramids six to eight times a year. Is that torture?" Guy Womack, Graner's attorney, said in opening arguments to the 10-member military jury at the reservist sergeant's court-martial.

Graner and Pvt. Lynndie England, with whom he fathered a child and who is also facing a court-martial, became the faces of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal after they appeared in photographs that showed degraded, naked prisoners.

The prosecution showed some of those pictures in their opening argument, including one of naked Iraqi men piled on each other and another of England holding a crawling naked Iraqi man on a leash.

‘A tether is a valid control’
Womack said using a tether was a valid method of controling detainees. "You're keeping control of them. A tether is a valid control to be used in corrections," he said.

Pictures of the humiliating treatment of the prisoners at the prison outside Baghdad prompted outrage around the world and eroded the credibility of the United States, already damaged in many countries by the 2003 Iraq invasion.

Apart from arguing that the methods were not illegal, Graner's defense is that he was following orders from superiors.

"He was doing his job. Following orders and being praised for it," Womack told the court.

The chief prosecutor, Maj. Michael Holley, asked rhetorically, "Did the accused honestly believe that was a lawful order?"

The Bush administration has said the actions were those of a small group and were not part of a policy or condoned by senior officers.

But investigations have shown many prisoners in Iraq, afghanistan and at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba also suffered abusive treatment after the government considered ways to obtain information in the war against terrorism.

Trial expected to last a week
The trial of Graner, a former Pennsylvania civilian prison guard who chatted and joked with his defense attorneys before the hearing opened, was expected to last at least a week. An all-male jury of four Army officers and six senior enlisted men was picked Friday to decide his fate. If convicted on all counts, he faces up to 17˝ years in a military prison.

Womack said over the weekend that while he almost never lets his clients take the stand, he may bend that rule for the Graner, of Uniontown, Pa.

“He is a calm, cool professional. He’s very articulate, very bright,” Womack said of the one-time prison guard. “Frankly, I don’t know anyone else in the case who can articulate everything as well as he can, so that would be a strong reason for him to testify.”

Four of seven accused members of Graner's unit have already pleaded guilty to abuse charges and three have been sentenced to prison.

Fellow members of the Maryland-based 372nd Military Police Company who have reached plea deals with Army prosecutors are expected to testify against Graner, as are Iraqi detainees expected to appear in videotaped depositions

Link (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6795956/)