Schaefer defends accused soldiers

U.S. shouldn't prosecute abuses, comptroller says

February 03, 2005|By David Nitkin | David Nitkin,SUN STAFF

State Comptroller William Donald Schaefer - in blunt language - expressed regret yesterday that U.S. soldiers were being prosecuted for prison abuse in Iraq.

American soldiers and prison guards have treated Iraqis far better than some Iraqis and other Muslim extremists treat Americans, Schaefer said at the start of yesterday's state Board of Public Works meeting.

"When you get a person who wants to hate you, and tries to kill you, and they court-martial you, something is wrong," Schaefer said.

Schaefer, 83, said he would not be reluctant to use force if he were a military prison guard.

"If an Iraqi prisoner started to beat on me, I would take a club. ... I would whack him on the head," he said.

"I'm not condoning mistreatment," he quickly added.

Schaefer did not explain what prompted yesterday's comments.

Seven soldiers from the Western Maryland-based 372nd Military Police Company have been accused in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

Four have pleaded guilty and a fifth convicted at trial.

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