Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Why the hell should I feel sorry, says girl soldier who abused Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison

By David Jones

In this deeply disturbing interview, the trailer trash torturer who appalled the world by appearing in shocking 'souvenir' photographs remains utterly unrepentant and says she has 800 MORE torture photos that could rock the White House

Normally, not much happens in Keyser, West Virginia, but today the folks in this quaint little railroad town, nestling in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, are spoilt for choice.

Either they can whoop and holler along to fiddle music at the annual Strawberry Festival or head down to the bookshop, where a local 'celebrity' - as her agent-cum-lawyer describes her - is signing first editions of her new biography.

Arriving at Main Street Books to find a young woman - considerably heavier now, but still grimly familiar - loitering self-consciously beside a pile of unsold manuscripts, it becomes clear that the fiddle players have won hands-down.

Degrading: One of the images of U.S. soldier Lynndie England at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Six years on a defiant England claims she was just doing her duty

When the shop closes, two hours later, Lynndie England has autographed barely two dozen copies, mostly for acquaintances such as her old schoolteacher.

For even on her home territory, few people are willing to line the pockets of this fallen girl soldier; who posed for a stomach-churning series of 'souvenir' photographs that cost countless American lives and brought shame on the nation.

Five years have passed since a U.S. TV station first broadcast those pictures, staged to humiliate and dehumanise Iraqi prisoners - and provide warped amusement for their U.S. Army guards - at Abu Ghraib prison, near Baghdad.

They caused universal outrage, ending any lingering pretence that President George W. Bush was on some moral crusade in Iraq, and sparking a wave of retaliatory beheadings; many of which were videoed to reciprocate the horror and degradation meted out to the Muslim detainees.

Such was their impact that they are still said to be used as recruitment propaganda for Islamic terror groups.

After all, what better way to incite a young fanatic than by showing him a photo of a female American soldier nonchalantly holding a leash, tightened around the neck of a naked and hooded Iraqi prisoner, as he squirms on the floor of his cell?

In another photograph, the waif-like Military Police private casually inspects a line of terrified Iraqi prisoners - again stripped and wearing sandbags over their heads - as they are forced to masturbate.

Grinning broadly with a cigarette clamped in her mouth, England, then just 21 and weighing less than seven stone, added to their humiliation by pointing mockingly at their genitals and giving the thumbs-up sign; a gesture now known as the 'Lynndie salute'.

One of seven U.S. Army reserves jailed for mistreating prisoners at Abu Ghraib - including her former lover Corporal Charles Graner, a sadistic, camera-obsessed bully who orchestrated the photo sessions - she has served three years in detention and is now on parole.

With a new book to peddle and her appeal against the conviction due to be heard next month, one might have expected the 26-year-old England to express some remorse.

Following Barack Obama's release of CIA torture files which lend credence to her claim that the ritual humiliation of prisoners was a White House sanctioned tactic during the Bush regime, she even consulted her local senator about petitioning for a Presidential pardon

But 'sorry', it becomes clear, is not in Lynndie England's vocabulary.

When we speak, three things strike me: her breathtaking lack of contrition; her unsuitability to have been a serving soldier and her utter indifference towards the horrifically abused prisoners at Abu Ghraib, 90 per cent of whom were later released without charge.

Since no established biographer would touch her life story (it was even dropped by the literary agent who handled O.J. Simpson's widely reviled book, If I Did It) her biography has been penned by a greenhorn local author, Gary Winkler.

For a man whose two previous works were lilting chronicles of Appalachian life, it has proved a chastening experience. Not only has he fallen out bitterly with his subject and her agent-cum-lawyer and confidant, Roy T. Hardy, but he has patently struggled to get the characteristically withdrawn England to open up.

'I just don't think she's a very deep person,' Winkler, a white-bearded former musician in his late 50s, concludes miserably.

Disgrace: Iraq detainees appear to be surrounded by U.S. military personnel at the Abu Ghraib prison

'Lynndie only has two moods: bored and p****d off.'

During our first meeting, when she yawns through my questions, I see what he means.


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