Army probes whether U.S. put Iraqis in lion cage

November 16th, 2005  
Team Infidel

Topic: Army probes whether U.S. put Iraqis in lion cage

By Will Dunham
WASHINGTON, Nov 15 (Reuters) - The Army said on Tuesday it was
looking into whether U.S. forces in Iraq put prisoners in a cage with lions
in 2003, but Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called the accusation by two
Iraqi men "far-fetched."
Two Iraqi businessmen, Sherzad Khalid and Thahe Sabbar, made the
allegation as part of a lawsuit against Rumsfeld and top U.S. military
commanders in Iraq filed by two rights groups, the American Civil Liberties
Union and Human Rights First.
The men contend U.S. jailers took them to a cage containing lions on
the grounds of a presidential palace in Baghdad during an interrogation
seeking some sort of a confession, forced them into the cage entrance then
pulled them back and shut the cage door when the lions approached.
Army spokesman Paul Boyce said officials were trying to determine
whether such an incident took place, but added that the Army had not
launched a formal criminal investigation.
"We are just somewhat perplexed that some 800 days after this
incident allegedly occurred and these individuals were detained that this is
the first time there's been any reference to a lion," Boyce said.
Asked about the lion allegations, Rumsfeld told a Pentagon briefing,
"It seems quite far-fetched. Obviously everything that everyone alleges is
looked into."
The United States faced international condemnation last year after
photographs emerged showing American forces physically abusing and sexually
humiliating Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib jail. The U.S. military has
acknowledged numerous instances in which American forces abused detainees in
Iraq and Afghanistan, but has said no policy allowed for such treatment.
Asked about the lion allegation, Rumsfeld said terrorists were
trained to lie about how they were treated while imprisoned.
Asked by a reporter whether he was saying the lion incident never
happened, Rumsfeld responded, "I didn't say that. You heard precisely what I
said. I spoke very precisely. And you can get a transcript of it if you
really want to know what I said."
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said that as far as he knew U.S.
personnel had never used lions with detainees.
Some of the Abu Ghraib abuse involved U.S. forces terrifying Iraqi
prisoners with snarling military working dogs. A Pentagon policy directive
this month specifically prohibited using dogs in such a manner.
Khalid was held for two months by U.S. forces; Sabbar was held for
six months. Both say they did nothing to warrant their detention and stated
they faced routine severe beatings and sexual abuse while imprisoned by U.S.
forces. They were never charged with a crime.
Boyce said the Army, on the subject of detainee abuse, had conducted
400 criminal investigations, 73 courts-martial, prepared 60,000 pages worth
of documents and participated in 12 investigations with the Department of
Defense and senior regional commanders.
"Nowhere in any of these previous 2-1/2 years worth of
investigations and documents has there been any reference to lions being
used in detainee operations," Boyce said.