Archive for Saturday, September 24, 2005

Witness testifies England suffered from depression at Abu Ghraib

Psychologist says condition contributed to involvement in abuse scandal

September 24, 2005

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— A psychologist testified Friday that Pvt. Lynndie England suffered from depression and that her mental condition, coupled with an overly compliant personality, made her a heedless participant in abuse of inmates at Abu Ghraib prison.

Xavier Amador, a clinical psychologist from New York, said England's soldier boyfriend, Charles Graner, was her "social accomplice" whom she relied upon without reservation to guide her behavior.

"It was a knee-jerk reflex," Amador testified during England's military trial. "It was very much like a little kid looking to an adult for what to do and what not to do."

Prosecutors maintain England was a willing participant in the 2003 abuse at Abu Ghraib. They tried to paint Amador as a professional defense witness who tailored his testimony to benefit her.

Maj. Jennifer Lange, an Army psychiatrist called by prosecutors to rebut Amador's testimony, interviewed England and concluded that she was neither clinically depressed nor suffered from other personality disorders.

England, 22, is charged with seven counts of conspiracy and abuse that carry a maximum sentence of 11 years. Her case will be decided by a jury of five Army officers. An earlier plea deal fell through when testimony by Graner contradicted England's guilty plea.

Closing arguments before a jury of five Army officers are scheduled Monday, with deliberations to follow.

U.S. Army Pfc. Lynndie R. England leaves the courthouse following a day of proceedings in her court-martial Friday in Fort Hood, Texas. A West Virginia school psychologist said Friday that he realized he had failed Lynndie England when he saw the Army private posing in prisoner abuse photos at Abu Ghraib.

U.S. Army Pfc. Lynndie R. England leaves the courthouse following a day of proceedings in her court-martial Friday in Fort Hood, Texas. A West Virginia school psychologist said Friday that he realized he had failed Lynndie England when he saw the Army private posing in prisoner abuse photos at Abu Ghraib.

England became the most recognizable of the Abu Ghraib soldiers charged in the prison scandal after photos showing her with a naked detainees on a leash and pointing to detainees in other demeaning poses became public.

In earlier testimony Friday, a West Virginia school psychologist, Thomas Denne, said he realized he had failed England, whom he had worked with as a special-education student since her early childhood.

Denne said he concluded he and others focused too much on getting the mild-mannered girl through school and not enough on providing her with real-life skills.

"She would seek some form of authority in order to follow," Denne said. "She almost automatically, reflexively complies."

Denne's testimony supported England's core defense that she was overly compliant and did what Graner told her to do. Graner, who England has said fathered her son while they were deployed, is described by prosecutors as the ringleader of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib.

Two former guards who were convicted in the scandal testified Thursday that Graner dominated England, but Graner, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role, stopped short of agreeing in his testimony.

Graner said England was generally compliant and trusted him, and that she had no reason to believe he would do anything "illegal or inappropriate."

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