Unidentified U.S. soldiers leashing dogs surround a frightened, naked Iraqi detainee in this photo obtained by The New Yorker said to be taken in December 2003, at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, Iraq. [AP]
A magazine on Sunday reported that a series of photos shows U.S. soldiers using attack dogs against a naked Iraqi prisoner, providing the first images of physical violence by U.S. soldiers against their detainees.
A photo published in The New Yorker shows the prisoner cowering against a cell door as two attack dogs held back by U.S. soldiers bark at him. The magazine said it did not have a photo of a dog mauling the prisoner, but it described other photos showing the dogs coming closer and then later the prisoner lying in a pool of blood, writhing in pain, while a soldier sits on him and presses a knee into the Iraqi's back.
The magazine said a large wound on the prisoner's left leg was covered in blood, and on his right thigh was an apparent bite or deep scratch. American soldiers smile in the foreground of some of the photos, the magazine reported.
The photo revelation follows Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's warning Friday that still-undisclosed photos and videos include graphic depictions of cruel physical mistreatment.
Previously published photos have shown sexual humiliation, such as prisoners being forced to masturbate for cameras and a naked Iraqi on a dog leash.
Though the Pentagon still has not released hundreds more pictures of mistreatment, the images are about to gain broader circulation.
Congress is to receive a set of photos and videos from the Pentagon this week. Although they will be classified secret and kept in a guarded, secure chamber inside the Capitol building, the transfer raises the likelihood that at least second-hand descriptions of the photos will leak to the public.
President Bush is to go to the Pentagon on Monday to meet with Rumsfeld and senior military leaders for a briefing on the scandal, as well as other matters related to the war in Iraq.
Speaking on CBS's "Face the Nation," Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, an influential Republican senator, voiced concern that the United States may now be on the path to losing the war in Iraq.
"I don't know if we are winning this war. The definition of winning the war, at least for me, is winning the people, is winning some security and stability," said Hagel. "That is not the case now."
Though Bush has expressed support for Rumsfeld, Hagel and two other Republican senators who appeared on Sunday morning talk shows suggested that the defense secretary's future in the post remains an open question.
"It's not settled yet," said Hagel, who added that he would wait for "the facts" before reaching a decision on whether Rumsfeld should remain.
Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) also said that while they felt calls for Rumsfeld's resignation were premature, their continued support for him would depend on a more complete understanding of the abuse scandal.
Graham also offered a gentle rebuke to Vice President Dick Cheney, who issued a statement on Saturday night defending Rumsfeld and telling critics of the defense secretary to "let [Rumsfeld] do his job."
"As to the White House, please don't say things like you should get off his back. Nobody is on his back. We have an independent duty to look at this, " Graham said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
The three Republicans urged a rapid release of all photos and videos the Pentagon has collected.
Speaking on "Fox News Sunday," McCain said the Pentagon's attempts to keep the photos secret "is sending the wrong signal. All the information concerning this situation should be brought out, completed, aired, ventilated."
The New Yorker report on the dog handlers offers evidence that prisoner abuse and snapshots of the mistreatment may have been systemic, at least within Abu Ghraib prison.
The author of The New Yorker article, Seymour Hersh, said on ABC's "This Week" that the soldiers in the photographs are not from the 372nd Military Police Company, which is the unit of the seven soldiers charged with prisoner mistreatment so far.
In testimony Friday, Rumsfeld portrayed the abuse as the aberrant behavior of a few rogue soldiers.
Guy Womack, a lawyer for Spec. Charles Graner Jr., one the soldiers charged in the abuse scandal, said on "This Week" that his client had been ordered by military intelligence interrogators to take pictures of the abuse. Womack said civilian and military intelligence officers watched while Graner abused prisoners.