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Abu Ghraib Torture Ringleader Charles Graner Released from Prison

Charles Graner, the sadistic U.S. soldier who tortured Iraqi prisoners, some of them innocent men, at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, has been released from prison after serving six and a half years of a ten year sentence.

Graner poses with a murdered Iraqi prisoner.

According to the Associated Press, Graner, age 42, was freed yesterday from the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. Although free, Graner will be on probation until the end of 2014.

Graner, a former Army Reserve corporal and corrections officer from Uniontown, Pennsylvania, served in the 372nd Military Police Company. That unit was assigned to the Abu Ghraib prison, once one of Saddam Hussein’s dreaded torture centers, where Graner and his fellow MPs guarded Iraqi prisoners. Many of these detainees were innocent; a report by U.S. Major General Anotnio Taguba estimated that more than 60% of the civilians locked up at the prison were guilty of no crime.

Still, many were subjected to medieval tortures at Abu Ghraib. And worse. An ACLU investigation of official American autopsy reports found that at least 28 prisoners died in American custody at Abu Ghraib. Half of these deaths were homicides. Female prisoners were tortured, urinated on, ridden like animals and raped. Male detainees were beaten, menaced and attacked with dogs, deprived of sleep, subjected to temperature extremes and deprived of proper medical care. There were many other tortures they endured, but perhaps some of the most shocking were of a sexual nature. Boys and men were forced to masturbate while U.S. soldiers, including females, mocked them and took photos. One teenage boy was raped by an Army translator as a female soldier took photos. Prisoners were also sodomized with chemical lights, nightsticks, truncheons and wire.

One of these rapists was Charles Graner. The infamous photo scandal that erupted after a brave young soldier named Joe Darby decided to blow the whistle on the horrific tortures taking place at Abu Ghraib show Garner posing with tortured and dead Iraqi prisoners, with men stacked naked on top of each other in a pyramid, and other unconscionable acts. “The Christian in me says it’s wrong,” Graner once said of his torturing ways, “but the corrections officer in me says ‘I love making a grown man piss himself.'”

Also appearing in some of the Abu Ghraib torture photos with Graner are a pair of female soldiers, Lynndie England and Megan Ambuhl, both of whom were also convicted and imprisoned for torturing detainees. Graner fathered a child with England; he later married Ambuhl.

Graner was tried and convicted of stacking prisoners in a pyramid, knocking one unconscious with a hard punch and forcing prisoners to masturbate while soldiers photographed the crime. He was sentenced to ten years; with good behavior, he ended up serving six and a half.

Graner has always maintained that he was “only following orders” and that military intelligence officers directed him to “soften up” prisoners for interrogation. He isn’t lying. Indeed, torture was authorized Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney and, to a lesser degree, President George W. Bush himself.

Some Iraqis are furious at Graner’s early release. “He was charged with a crime that shocked the international community, and then he was released,” human rights advocate Hana Adwar told the Associated Press. “I believe that such an act is an attempt to deceive and blind the Iraqi nation.”

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