UK Inquiry concludes "Iraqi prison photos were faked" "Army Demands an Apology"- Boston Globe "abuse" photos were taken from pornographic websites
Tabloid editor may be charged under military laws
UK army demands photos apology
LONDON, England -- The Queen's Lancashire Regiment has demanded an apology from Britain's Daily Mirror tabloid over photographs of alleged abuse of Iraqis that had "unjustly sullied" its reputation.
Regimental commander Brigadier Geoff Sheldon said the regiment had proved that the photos alleging abuse of Iraqi prisoners were fake.
Commenting on a front page picture in the Daily Mirror depicting a British soldier allegedly urinating on an Iraqi prisoner, Brig. Sheldon said: "It wasn't a British soldier degrading an Iraqi.
"It was a mocked-up fake, not even taken in Iraq."
The British officer described the Mirror's allegations as "utter and complete nonsense."
Colonel David Black, a former commanding officer of the QLR, said it was time for the Mirror editor, Piers Morgan, to apologize.
Speaking alongside Brig Sheldon at a press conference at Fulwood Barracks in Preston, northern England, he said: "It's time that the ego of one editor is measured against the life of the soldier.
"It's up to the readership, the board of directors and the shareholders to put pressure on to get an apology."
He said the images had done enormous damage to the regiment and to the British army. Col. Black said: "The regiment is made up of young men and women ... They went to Basra last year and faced incredible danger in incredible difficulties.
"It's they who have been besmirched, the good lads and good lasses of the regiment. It's they who should have the apology."
UK armed forces minister Adam Ingram told the House of Commons Thursday an inquiry by military police found the truck seen in the photos published by the Daily Mirror newspaper "was never in Iraq."
The investigation of the photos is continuing and may result in criminal prosecution, he said.
Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan said Thursday that officials had not proven the images were faked, and he would not resign. Morgan insisted the photos "accurately illustrated the reality about the appalling conduct of some British troops."
In a statement, Morgan said: "We have listened to what Mr. Ingram has said today, but he has still not produced incontrovertible evidence that the pictures are faked." (Full statement)
The Conservative opposition asked the Mirror's publishers what action they intended to take against Morgan.
Morgan has been accused of endangering the lives of coalition soldiers by printing them. Iraqi captors who recently beheaded American contractor Nicholas Berg said the killing was in part a response to the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by Americans at Abu Ghraib prison. (Full story)
The Mirror's fierce tabloid rival, The Sun, is offering a £50,000 ($88,000) reward for the arrest and conviction of those accused of faking the Mirror photographs.
Photos of alleged abuse by U.S. forces have also prompted outrage -- particularly in the Arab world -- and led to days of hearings on Capitol Hill. Seven soldiers face criminal charges, and three of them have been formally referred for court-martial. (Full story)
May 13, 2004
British Inquiry Says Paper's Prison Abuse Photos Were Faked
ONDON, May 13 — The British government said today that its investigation into a series of published photographs showing the brutal mistreatment of an Iraqi prisoner has concluded that the photos were not taken in Iraq and, therefore, must have been faked.
The images of abuse were emblazoned on the pages of The Daily Mirror this month under the headline "Vile!" at roughly the same time as similar photos emerged of American soldiers abusing prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.
On the front page of The Mirror, a photo portrayed a hooded man purported to be an Iraqi prisoner who had been kicked, beaten and urinated on by British soldiers of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment. The authenticity of the image was almost immediately called into question by army officials who pointed out that the soldiers and the Iraqi looked well-scrubbed, their clothes were freshly pressed and the truck that was the scene of the beating appeared in spotless condition. Iraq is notoriously dusty and anyone who has visited there knows the gritty look.
"The truck in which the photographs were taken was never in Iraq," the armed forces minister, Adam Ingram, told Parliament today. "Those pictures were categorically not taken in Iraq," he added emphatically
Declining to give further details of a continuing investigation, he told lawmakers that "this is not only the opinion of the special investigations branch" of the Royal Military Police, "it has been independently corroborated."
There were immediate calls in Parliament for the editor of The Mirror, Piers Morgan, to resign and for the paper to publish a front-page apology. Mr. Ingram said "those involved" in faking the photos "may have committed criminal offenses under military laws."
"It's an absolute disgrace that The Daily Mirror, in order to further its own political line and to damage the prime minister, has been prepared to besmirch the name of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment," said David Barrow, a member of Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labor Party.
In a statement on behalf of The Mirror, Mr. Morgan defended the tabloid newspaper by arguing that because some members of the regiment are under investigation for brutal beatings, including at least one that led to the death of a hotel clerk in Basra, the photos approximated real behavior.
"There is, of course, a much bigger issue here that we make no apology for highlighting," Mr. Morgan said, "which is that the pictures accurately illustrated the reality about the appalling conduct of some British troops."
"We have listened to what Mr. Ingram has said today," the editor said, "but he has still not produced incontrovertible evidence that the pictures are faked."
But the Conservative Party's defense spokesman, Keith Simpson, said, "Those who connived with the production of those photographs and those who have published them did a great wrong." He added that not only the good name, but "possibly the lives" of British troops "have been traded for what now appear to be cheap news headlines."
The Mirror has never identified the soldiers who brought the photos and their story of mistreatment to the newspaper. Mr. Ingram pointed out that The Mirror had demanded that the army adopt standards of "honesty, openness and professionalism."
"I challenge The Daily Mirror to do the same," he said, calling on Mr. Morgan "to assist fully in this inquiry."
But The Mirror in its statement said it would not reveal the identity of its sources. Mr. Morgan accused the government of dragging its feet in critical investigations into the mistreatment of prisoners.
"We hope the Government now takes urgent action to bring the perpetrators to book, with the same vigor and speed with which they are pursuing the veracity of these pictures," Mr. Morgan said.
OPERATION: IRAQI FREEDOM
Posted: May 12, 2004
By Sherrie Gossett
Boston residents got more than they bargained for this morning when their copy of the Globe came complete with graphic photos depicting U.S. troops gang-raping Iraqi women.
Problem is the photos are fake. They were taken from pornographic websites and disseminated by anti-American propagandists, as first reported by WND a week ago.
WND contacted the Globe to question staff about the photos.
Asked whether the photos were the same as the porn photos WND already investigated, reporter Donovan Slack said, "I have no idea. I'm surprised the editor even decided we should write about it."
She added: "Oh my God, I'm scared to answer the phone today."
"It's insane," said Slack. "Can you imagine getting this with your cup of coffee in the morning? Somehow it got through all our checks. Our publisher's not having a very good day today."
Slack sent the photos to WND, which immediately confirmed they were the same porn photos reported on last week.
Responding to an e-mail request from the Globe, WND furnished the true source of the photos, and walked Slack through the "Sex In War" site over the phone, so she could see the photos matched.
I'll take the 'Five days for $15' deal," Slack quipped, adding, "This is ridiculous. I'll be working at Penthouse soon."
The photos accompanied an article about Boston city councilor Chuck Turner, who distributed the graphic photographs yesterday at a press conference with activist Sadiki Kambon. Turner told reporters the photos showed U.S. soldiers raping Iraqi women.
"The American people have a right and responsibility to see the pictures," Turner said.
Kambon, who is director of the Black Community Information Center, said at the news conference he received the photographs by e-mail from Akbar Muhammad, a representative for the Nation of Islam.
The Globe was provided with a statement by Muhammad who wrote, "There aren't any doubts in my mind about the reports on torture of Iraqi prisoners. All you have to do is look at the pictures of Saddam Hussein after his capture when he was being examined on television across the world. He appeared to be drugged and unaware that he was being filmed to be humiliated and disgraced in front of the entire world."
As WND previously reported, the pornographic 'rape' images were carried, among other venues, on the website for the Committee for the Defense of Saddam Hussein.
In the letter given to the globe, Muhammad termed reservists, "raving beasts," and added, "I was fortunate enough to make copies of the pictures before they became unavailable on the Internet."
The pictures are still on the porn site "Sex In War" and appeared in several Arabic newspapers.
Muhammad also called for the resignation of Rumsfeld.
Turner and Kambon told the Globe they don't know where or when the photos they distributed yesterday were taken. But Turner said they came from a "very legitimate person."
"We cannot document their authenticity," he told reporters. "But you have the ability to do that."
The Globe published the photos despite the fact a skeptical Slack had raised serious doubts about them and was not able to verify their authenticity. Slack was assigned to report on the press conference and did not approve of the photos being published. The photos were approved for publication by three Boston Globe editors.
In the article the Boston Globe ran with the photos, Slack underscored her skepticism: "The images, depicting men in camouflage uniforms having sex with unidentified women, bear no characteristics that would prove the men are U.S. soldiers or that the women are Iraqis. And there is nothing apparent in the images showing they were taken in Iraq. Unlike the photographs widely publicized last week, the images appear to have been taken outdoors in a sandy area with hills in the background."
A source with the Globe said the controversy already had reached the president of the New York Times, who reportedly is furious. The Boston Globe is owned by the New York Times Co.
Turner said he and Kambon were distributing the photos to force the Bush administration to release additional documentation of abuses, which Turner said are not limited to the prison, west of Baghdad.
At the time of publication of this report, Turner and Kambon were not available for comment.
So far, the Globe hasn't published a retraction. However, as posted on the Free Republic website, a reader who wrote the Globe's ombudsman, Christine Chinlund, received the following e-mail reply:
Chinlund's response ended with the following P.S.: "Can you tell me which website is providing the copy for letters like yours? Thanks."
Regarding apologies, and who should get them
Senator Joseph Leiberman, via the New York Daily News:
The behavior by Americans at the prison in Iraq is, as we all acknowledge, immoral, intolerable and un-American ... I cannot help but say, however, that those responsible for killing 3,000 Americans on Sept. 11, 2001, never apologized. Those who have killed hundreds of Americans in uniform in Iraq, working to liberate Iraq and protect our security, have never apologized. And those who murdered and burned and humiliated four Americans in Fallujah a while ago never (apologized)....
ROME - The scandal of prisoner abuses by U.S. soldiers in Iraq (news - web sites) has dealt a bigger blow to the United States than the Sept. 11 attacks, the Vatican (news - web sites) foreign minister told an Italian newspaper.
In an interview published Wednesday in the Rome daily La Repubblica, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo described the abuses as "a tragic episode in the relationship with Islam" and said the scandal would fuel hatred for the West and for Christianity.
"The torture? A more serious blow to the United States than Sept. 11. Except that the blow was not inflicted by terrorists but by Americans against themselves," Lajolo was quoted as saying in La Repubblica.
Lajolo said that "intelligent people in Arab countries understand that in a democracy such episodes are not hidden and are punished ... Still the vast mass of people — under the influence of Arab media — cannot but feel aversion and hate for the West growing inside themselves."
And, he added, "the West is often identified with Christianity."
The remarks were not the first by Lajolo on the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. In the wake of the scandal, he had said that a democracy should punish those responsible and their direct superiors.
The Vatican paper, L'Osservatore Romano, has also run some harsh comments in the past days. On Monday, it criticized what it called a Pentagon (news - web sites) cover-up and took sharp aim at the photograph of a soldier holding a prisoner by a leash.
In Wednesday's interview, Lajolo said the coalition's priority should be "putting as soon as possible at the head of the Iraqi executive an Iraqi leader who speaks to the Iraqis in Arabic and not in English."