"Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)
Elliott and the friends with whom he recorded in middle school in Texas (photo courtesy of Dan Pickering)
Warning: Photos contain disturbing images of violence, abuse and humiliation. These photos were taken using cameras owned by Cpl. Charles A. Graner Jr. and Staff Sgt. Ivan Frederick II. They depict two instances of soldiers providing medical attention to detainees with cuts on their faces, and several detainees who are naked or hooded. One naked and hooded detainee is shown with a number written on his chest and smiley faces drawn on his nipples. In addition to the detainees, the pictures show Graner, Frederick, a soldier the Criminal Investigation Command (CID) identifies as Sgt. Wallin, a soldier the CID identifies as Spc. Christopherson, Spc. Megan Ambuhl, Pfc. Lynndie England, civilian contractor Adel Nakhla, a soldier the CID identifies as Sgt. Evans and several soldiers the CID identifies as unknown.
In addition to humiliation and abuse, the military police at Abu Ghraib photographed and documented detainee injuries. These photographs, which were taken partly as a boast and partly for official records, according to military police testimony, show two detainees with significant cuts on their faces.
The first of this series of photographs was taken on Nov. 14, after six detainees, including at least four who claimed to be Iraqi generals, were brought into the military intelligence wing, all of them charged with attempting to incite a riot at Camp Vigilant, a nearby detainee facility.
One of those prisoners, identified as G—– by Army investigators, was photographed several times with Graner’s camera. According to an entry in the military police log, the detainee received treatment for a “1.5 inch laceration on the right side of his chin.” In his April 2005 statement to the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, Graner said the injury was caused when he shoved the hooded detainee against a wall. “I had brought him over to the wall where we were processing people and he had been resisiting [sic] me the whole time,” Graner said. “When I put him up near the wall, he had come back on me. I pushed him forward against the wall, blood started coming from underneath his sandbag.”
A report by Maj. Gen. George R. Fay repeats this account of events, adding that a medical corpsman was called to stitch up the detainee’s chin. Nonetheless, Graner can be seen working on the wound in one photo. A report by Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba notes that a military police guard was improperly allowed “to stitch the wound of a detainee.” The Fay report did not reach a conclusion about whether G—–’s injury was caused by “reasonable force.” “When, where and by whom this detainee suffered his injuries could not be determined,” Fay concluded.
As part of the same incident, another detainee claimed to investigators that he was “slammed to the ground, punched, and forced to crawl naked to his cell with a sandbag over his head,” according to the Fay report, though the report gives no indication of who allegedly committed the abuse. These two detainees, as well as four others who arrived on Nov. 14, were considered “high value Iraqi General Officers or senior members of the Iraqi Intelligence Service.”
About two hours later, Graner made another log entry saying he was told by military police Sgt. Hydrue S. Joyner — who was in turn told by Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan, one of the commanders in charge of interrogation operations — to “strip out” and “PT” the six detainees. In his report, Fay said he was unable to conclude whether “PT,” which commonly means “physical training,” meant physical stress or abuse. Fay also did not determine whether “strip out” meant isolation or removal of clothing. Nonetheless, Fay found that the facts suggest that “MI [military intelligence] could have provided direction or MP [military police] could have been given the perception they should abuse or ‘soften up detainees.’” According to Graner’s log entry, Capt. Christopher R. Brinson overrode the orders to “strip out” the detainees. The detainees were, instead, placed in jumpsuits in their cells. “Having them stand in their cells would be their PT,” Graner wrote in the log.
On Dec. 1, Graner’s camera captured a similar set of photographs of a man Graner identified as an Iraqi corrections officer accused of smuggling weapons into the prison and giving them to a detainee. According to the CID investigation, on Nov. 24 a detainee had obtained weapons and fired several rounds at the military police guards. Soldiers fired shotgun rounds at the detainee’s legs, and the detainee was dragged from his cell and sent to the hospital. According to an appendix to the Taguba report, when this detainee returned to the prison, Graner “beat him severely, including direct blows to his leg wounds.”
Graner told CID investigators that a contract interrogator told him to rough up the Iraqi corrections officer. Graner said that he and Frederick tried to move the hooded corrections officer out of the cell to a shower, but the detainee tried to escape. “He ran right into the top bunk of a metal bunk bed,” Graner said.
The Fay report discusses at length other abuses that occurred in the course of finding the Iraqi policeman who had smuggled in the gun. “During the interrogations of the Iraqi Police, harsh and unauthorized techniques were employed to include use of dogs … and the removal of clothing,” Fay wrote. “It was the general understanding that evening that LTG [Ricardo] Sanchez and COL [Thomas M.] Pappas had authorized all measures to identify those involved, however, that should not have been construed to include abuse.” Fay determined Jordan was responsible for the harsh and humiliating treatment of the Iraqi police suspects.
A few days later, in the early morning hours of Dec. 6, several more naked detainees had their pictures taken. According to Graner, a number of these hooded detainees were OGA (other government agency) prisoners. At one point a person whom Graner identifies as a medic — CID documentation further identifies him as Sgt. Evans — can be seen filling out paperwork while one of these OGA detainees stands nearby. Nakhla, a Titan Corp. interrogator, can also be seen in this photo.
Another series of photos taken later that night shows two naked detainees shackled together. One of these men has what appear to be several cuts on his head.