Navy Drops Charges Against Commando in Abuse of
By SCOTT SHANE
Published: October 29, 2004
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The Navy dropped criminal charges this week against one of seven
commandos accused of mistreating prisoners in Iraq, a spokesman for the
Naval Special Warfare Command said yesterday.
The member of the Navy's special forces, the Seals, was subjected
instead to nonjudicial punishment and remains with the unit, said the
spokesman, Cmdr. Jeffrey A. Bender. He declined to describe the
punishment, but officials said nonjudicial sanctions could be as mild as
a letter of reprimand. The resolution of the case was first reported
yesterday in The Los Angeles Times.
Preliminary hearings on charges against two other commandos were held
yesterday and planned for today at the Navy base in Coronado, Calif. The
four remaining officers will have their hearings, the military
equivalent of grand jury proceedings, probably next month, Commander
The commandos, members of the Sea-Air-Land Team 7, were part of an elite
group of special operations forces and Central Intelligence Agency
operatives hunting insurgents in Iraq. They are accused of abusing a
number of prisoners between October 2003 and April 2004 by kicking them,
punching them, twisting their testicles, breaking their fingers and
pointing loaded guns at them.
None of the commandos have been publicly identified. Commander Bender
said their names were being withheld both because of the secret nature
of Seal operations and to prevent damaging their reputations if they are
not guilty of crimes.
Some, though not all, are charged with mistreating Manadel al-Jamadi, an
Iraqi who died in American custody on Nov. 4, 2003, at Abu Ghraib prison
and whose body was later photographed wrapped in plastic and packed in
ice. The incident also drew attention because Mr. Jamadi was a "ghost
detainee," questioned by the C.I.A. at Abu Ghraib but kept off the
No one has been charged with manslaughter or murder in connection with
Mr. Jamadi's death, but one of the commandos is accused of "kicking and
punching him in the stomach and back with a means or force likely to
produce death or grievous bodily harm."
An investigation led by Maj. Gen. George Fay of the Army said the
detainee later identified as Mr. Jamadi was a suspect in a bombing of
the Baghdad headquarters of International Committee of the Red Cross.
When he was captured by a Seal team, one commando reportedly hit him on
the side of the head with the butt of his rifle, according to the Fay
report. An autopsy concluded that he died of a blood clot in the brain,
probably caused by injuries during his capture, the report said.
But Milton J. Silverman, a lawyer for one of the commandos under
investigation, said yesterday that three forensic pathologists who
reviewed the autopsy report at his request concluded that Mr. Jamadi's
death was not caused by trauma from a blow to the head.
Mr. Silverman also said in a telephone interview that he believed many
of the charges against his client and the other commandos were based on
false testimony from a former member of the Seals who was facing
discharge for taking another serviceman's body armor.
Commander Bender, the Navy spokesman, declined to respond to Mr.
Silverman's assertions, saying he could not comment on an open criminal