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Bush, Arabs Disgusted Over Prisoner Abuse

Images of smiling U.S. military police humiliating Iraqi prisoners appeared in newspapers around the Middle East on Saturday, angering Arabs who accused the United States of only caring about the rights of Americans.

Egypt's Akhbar el-Yom newspaper splashed photographs of the U.S. soldiers posing by naked, hooded inmates on page one with the banner headline "The Scandal." Al-Wafd, an opposition paper, displayed similar photos beneath the headline, "The Shame!"

The scandal broadened Saturday after Britain's Daily Mirror (search) published new photographs of a hooded Iraqi prisoner who reportedly was beaten by British troops.

The newspaper's front-page picture showed a soldier apparently urinating on the prisoner, who was sitting on the floor.

The newspaper quoted unidentified soldiers as saying the unarmed captive had been threatened with execution during eight hours of abuse, and was left bleeding and vomiting. They said the captive was then driven away and dumped from the back of a moving vehicle, and it was not known whether he survived.

Referring to the allegations, British Prime Minister Tony Blair (searchsaid, "if it happened, it's completely unacceptable."

Also Saturday, the The New Yorker magazine said it had obtained a U.S. Army Report Iraqi detainees were subjected to "sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses" at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.

Those abuses included threats of rape and the pouring of water and liquid from chemical lights on detainees, said the internal report by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (search).

Detainees were beaten with a broom handle and one was sodomized with "a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick," the report said, according to the magazine.

The report was based on "detailed witness statements and the discovery of extremely graphic photographic evidence," The New Yorker said in its May 10 issue.

President Bush has condemned the mistreatment shown in the photographs, saying he shared "a deep disgust that those prisoners were treated the way they were treated." He said that is "not the way we do things in America."

Arabs first saw the American photographs on the satellite television stations Al-Arabiya, based in the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar-based Al-Jazeera, which led their news bulletins with them Friday. Most newspapers do not publish on Fridays in the Arab world.

Six U.S. soldiers facing courts-martial in the abuse allegations have been reassigned in Iraq. Their boss, Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, commander of the 800th Military Police Brigade, and at least seven others have been suspended from their duties at Abu Ghraib, the U.S. military said.

Col. Jill Morgenthaler, a military spokeswoman in Baghdad, said in an e-mail that three of the six soldiers facing courts-martial have completed their Article 32 hearings, the military equivalent of a grand jury proceeding.

In all cases, the adjuticating officer recommended that all charges go forward to general courts martial.

She said that the suspensions of all the officers and soldiers, including Karpinski, are considered temporary. At this point, they have not been permanently relieved of duty.

The Abu Ghraib prison was notorious under Saddam Hussein's rule, and Bush has made a point of taking credit for shutting down the ousted dictator's "torture chambers."

"Shame on America. How can they convince us now that it is the bastion of democracy, freedoms and human rights? Why do we blame our dictators then?" asked Mustafa Saad, who was reading morning papers in a downtown Cairo cafe.

The Iraqi Governing Council should investigate and the nation's Human Rights Ministry should intervene, member Sondul Chapouk said.

"During Saddam's time we rejected such acts and after the liberation we still reject them," Chapouk said.

Fellow council member Dara Nor al-Din, a former judge, said, "We used to criticize Saddam's regime regarding the beating of detained people, so why should we accept to repeat the same tragedy?"

During Saddam's rule, Arab media rarely criticized atrocities reported by world human rights watchdogs. Iraq activists always complained that ignoring the abuses encouraged the Iraqi dictator.

The photographs were first broadcast Wednesday on CBS' "60 Minutes II."

One of them showed a hooded prisoner standing on a box with wires attached to his hands. CBS reported the prisoner was told that if he fell off the box, he would be electrocuted, although the wires were not really connected to a power supply. Other photos, with the genitals blurred, simulated sexual acts.

"They were ugly images. Is this the way the Americans treat prisoners?" asked Ahmad Taher, 24, a student at Baghdad's Mustansiriyah University. "Americans claim that they respect freedom and democracy -- but only in their country."

Hussein al-Saeedi, spokesman for Kuwait's al-Salaf radical Islamic group, said the images "make every sensible person doubt all the principles Western democracies are offering" and show the need for an end to the U.S. occupation.

"America justified its invasion of Iraq by saying the country was under a dictatorship. Unfortunately, Americans are now torturing the Iraqi people in the same place Saddam tortured them," he said.

In Baghdad, U.S. military spokesman Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said the commander of the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, was being sent to Iraq to take over the coalition detention facilities.