Lynndie England reveals a culture of warped violence

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The Independent US

Lynddie England, the young woman associated with some of the most notorious photographs to emerge from Abu Ghraib, has offered new insights into the abuse scandal that rocked the US military and revealed how she acted to please her former lover.

Speaking for the first time since she was jailed more than a year ago, England revealed the abusive nature of her relationship with fellow reservist Charles Graner and suggested that her actions inside the Baghdad jail were largely directed by him. She has also reiterated claims made by her lawyers that much of the mistreatment of prisoners was carried out at the behest of military intelligence officers or the CIA.

"Yeah, I thought it was weird," said England, referring to the human pyramids she and other reservists constructed from naked and shackled Iraqi prisoners. "We were told we were supposed to do those things. They said 'Good job. Keep it up'."

England, 23, described how her sexually charged relationship with Graner - who she now describes as a "shithead" - focused on her efforts to please him. He would take photographs of her during sex, sometimes as she performed oral sex on him. "I didn't want him to take them but he took pictures of everything," she said. "He kept a camera in his cargo pocket. He was always taking his camera out."

In September 2005, England, who has a two-year-old son fathered by Graner, was sentenced to three years in jail by a court martial after being convicted of conspiracy, maltreating detainees and committing an indecent act.

The abuse came to light after a series of photographs emerged showing the reservists posing alongside shackled and hooded prisoners, often naked and often being sexually humiliated. England was notoriously shown in one image leading a naked prisoner by a dog leash.

In an interview with Marie Claire magazine, she revealed how, soon after being deployed to Iraq, a group of soldiers discovered some animal carcasses, a goat and a cat, and cut off their heads. They took turns taking photographs, one as a soldier pretended to have sex with the goat's head. "Then they cut off the cat's head and shoved it on top of a soda bottle," she said. Graner also instituted a different kind of amusement when he would walk around the camp naked, with fluorescent dye poured over his penis.

Ms England's lawyer, Roy Hardy, said: "Everything they did, they took a picture of. I asked Lynndie why she let him. She said 'Guys like that. I just wanted to please him'. She was like a little plaything for him. The sexual stuff - the way he put her in those positions, that was just his way of saying 'Let's see what I can make you do'."

England also makes other claims about the jail. "I heard [a US contractor] did things to boys in his cell... I was told there were hangings of people in the doorways of cells."