BAGHDAD, Aug. 9 (UPI) -- National Guardsmen who disrupted prisoner abuse by police at the Iraqi Interior Ministry June 29 were ordered to remand the detainees back to Iraqi custody.
Service members of the Oregon Army National Guard who administered first aid after encountering plainclothes Iraqis beating bound-and-gagged prisoners, some as young as 14, in the courtyard of the Iraqi Interior Ministry in Baghdad received high-level orders to stand down and return the captives to their abusers, the Portland Oregonian reported.
Capt. Jarrell Southall, who provided the Oregonian with a written statement describing the incident, said the armored guardsmen pushed into the detention yard "basically unchallenged," where they found prisoners who said they hadn't eaten in days and "were barely able to walk." He added Iraqi police soon became defiant and hostile toward the Americans.
After interrupting the abuse, distributing water bottles and discovering a cache of potential torture devices including metal rods, rubber hoses, electrical wires and bottled chemicals, Lt. Col. Daniel Hendrickson of Albany, Ore., radioed the Army's 1st Cavalry Division to report the incident and receive further instructions. An unidentified general then ordered the Americans to leave the prisoners and withdraw from the area.
The incident took place one day after the United States transferred official sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government and came on the heels of a barrage of photos documenting prisoner abuse at the hands of U.S. soldiers at Baghdad's infamous Abu Ghraib prison.