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Three Former Ft. Bragg Soldiers Allege Iraqi Prisoner Abuse

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FORT BRAGG, N.C. — Fort Bragg's 1st Battalion of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment (82nd Airborne Division) spent months coming under fire overseas. Now, some of the soldiers are under attack at home.

A private advocacy group, Human Rights Watch, released a 30-page report that accuses the Fort Bragg soldiers of abusing Iraqi prisoners.

The report quotes three anonymous soldiers who say the "torture of detainees took place almost daily" and that "people would just volunteer just to get their frustrations out."

They describe beatings, including one with a "Louisville Slugger" baseball bat; sleep deprivation; the withholding of food and water; exposure to elements; and exposure to chemicals.

The term "smoking" comes up often. The report says paratroopers would "smoke" detainees, making them exert themselves to the "brink of a stroke or heart attack."

"Some days we would just get bored so we would have everyone sit in a corner and then make them get in a pyramid," said one of the soldiers, identified only as "Sgt. A," in the report. "We did that for amusement."

That is what happened at Abu Ghraib prison where Army Pfc. Lynndie England was seen posing with prisoners and charged. In that case, the detainees were naked.

In the report, one soldier, identified as "Officer C," says he reported the abuse to his chain of command. He wanted guidance "about what I should stop and what I should allow to happen."

But, he says, he got no where.

The Army says it is "taking all of this very seriously." The Pentagon launched a criminal investigation and will not comment further until it is complete.

Human Rights Watch, which is based in New York, does not accept any government funds and says its mission is to "protect people from inhumane conduct in wartime."

The report does not mention any Fort Bragg soldiers by name.


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