July 17, 2004
The U.S. journalist who first revealed the scandal at the notorious Abu Ghraib detention centre says there are videotapes of American occupation soldiers sodomising young Iraqi boys at the prison.
Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh said the Bush administration is holding the tapes of these acts.
"The boys were sodomised with the cameras rolling, and the worst part is the soundtrack, of the boys shrieking. And this is your government at war," he told the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) earlier this month.
There was "a massive amount of criminal wrongdoing that was covered up at the highest command out there, and higher," he added.
US President George Bush claimed that the prison abuse scandal of US soldiers sexually humiliating and torturing Iraqi detainees was just "conduct by a few American troops".
But new reports of abuse indicate that the intimidation tactics, including torture, may have been approved at the highest levels of government.
Hersh first broke the story that shocked the world three months ago. Since then, new cases of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib have emerged.
US soldier Jeremy Sivits - who was involved in piling naked inmates on top of each other - was sentenced to one year in prison and discharged from the army for his role in the abuse of Iraqi detainees.
Top US government officials signed
He was the most lightly charged of the seven soldiers ordered to stand trial, although he is also accused of manhandling detainees.
The now notorious photograph of naked Iraqi detainees forced to form a human pyramid of bodies and being sexually humiliated has outraged the world.
Hersh's revelation follows a newly released 2002 Pentagon memo in which Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld personally authorised the use of dogs for intimidation, stripping prisoners of clothes and hooding them.
Rumsfeld also ordered military officials to hold prisoners but not list them on prisoner rolls requested by the International Red Cross.
According to Newsweek magazine, these memos and orders were signed by Rumsfeld, Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft.
In other news, a majority of Americans surveyed said that Washington should not have launched war against Iraq.
Fifty-one percent of respondents in the New York Times/CBS News poll said Washington should have stayed out of Iraq, a jump from 46% in April, May and June.
Sixty-two percent said the war, launched last year, was not worth the cost in lives lost.
Down three percent from last month, 45% said the war was a good idea.
And only 37% said they approved of Bush's conduct of the warm compared with 58% who disapproved.