FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – The Army private facing a court-martial for being photographed with naked Iraqi prisoners says she was following orders to create psychological pressure on them.
Pfc. Lynndie England (search) told KCNC-TV in Denver on Tuesday that her superiors gave her specific instructions on how to pose for the photos. Asked who gave the orders, she would say only, "Persons in my chain of command."
In photographs that have been shown worldwide, England, 21, is seen smiling, cigarette in her mouth, as she leans forward and points at the genitals of a naked, hooded Iraqi. Another photo taken at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison (search) shows her holding a leash that encircles the neck of a naked Iraqi man lying on his side.
"I was instructed by persons in higher rank to 'stand there, hold this leash, look at the camera,' and they took picture for PsyOps (psychological operations)," she told the station.
"I didn't really, I mean, want to be in any pictures," she said. She also said she thought "it was kind of weird."
The interview was taped Tuesday at Fort Bragg, N.C., where England, a military reservist from West Virginia, met with one of a team of Denver lawyers who have volunteered to take her case.
Asked whether worse things happened than those already seen on the photos, she said yes but declined to elaborate.
She said her superiors praised the photos and "just told us, 'Hey, you're doing great, keep it up.'"
England faces a military court-martial that includes charges such as conspiracy to maltreat prisoners and assault consummated by battery, and could face punishment ranging from a reprimand to more than 15 years in prison.
No date has been set for a hearing in the case.
Six other soldiers from the 372nd Military Police Company are also charged. One, Spc. Jeremy C. Sivits of Hyndman, Pa., will face a court-martial in Baghdad next week.
"We don't feel like we were doing things that we weren't supposed to because we were told to do them," England said. "We think everything was justified because we were instructed to do this and to do that."
After meeting with England, attorney Giorgio Ra'Shadd said she shouldn't be used as a scapegoat by the military.
"You don't see my client doing anything abusive at all," Ra'Shadd said in an interview. "I think she was ordered to smile."
Ra'Shadd said England was pulled into the situations by intelligence agents who subverted the military chain of command. He said they used England to humiliate the men being photographed so they could show the pictures to more important prisoners and threaten them with the same treatment.
"The spooks took over the jail," said Ra'Shadd. Now in private practice, he was formerly an Army lawyer was assigned to the civil affairs and psychological operations command at Fort Bragg.
Also Tuesday, Pentagon officials told a Senate committee that the prison conditions shown in the pictures were confined to a few low-level soldiers and intelligence officers.
But Ra'Shadd contended that the blame for the scandal lies high up in the chain of command, arguing that only the highest-ranking officials could have allowed civilian intelligence to override military command structure.