"DATELINE NBC" EXCLUSIVE: LYNNDIE ENGLAND WITH SOUNDBITES
�DATELINE NBC� EXCLUSIVE: STONE PHILLIPS TALKS TO LYNNDIE ENGLAND
Interview to Air Sunday, October 2 on �Dateline NBC� at 7 p.m. ET
NEW YORK -- September 30, 2005 -- In a "Dateline NBC" exclusive, Stone Phillips talks to Lynndie England, the U.S. soldier who was recently found guilty of inmate abuse at Abu Ghraib prison. For the first time on television, England, one of the most visible figures in the Abu Ghraib scandal, tells her side of the story.
The interview will air Sunday, October 2 on "Dateline NBC" at 7 p.m. ET.
Below is the complete transcript of the interview. If used, you must courtesy "Dateline NBC."
PHILLIPS: How do you think America sees you? What kind of person do they think you are?
ENGLAND: I get mail from people that support me. Then I get mail from people who wish they could hand me back over to Iraq so they could take me on the street and shoot me.
NARRATION #1: A GENTLE, NURTURING MOTHER WITH THE SON SHE ADORES. AN ENDEARING IMAGE, BUT NOT THE ONE BURNED INTO THE MINDS OF MILLIONS. TO THE WORLD, -THIS- IS LYNNDIE ENGLAND.
LEASH GIRL, POSTER GIRL FOR PRISONER ABUSE.
TONIGHT, LYNNDIE ENGLAND HAS BEGUN A 3 YEAR PRISON SENTENCE. THE LAST OF NINE RESERVISTS PUNISHED IN THE ABU GHRAIB SCANDAL.. SHE SAYS THEY ARE SCAPEGOATS FOR ABUSE ENCOURAGED BY HIGHER UPS.
ENGLAND: It was just humiliation tactics. and things that we were told to do
PHILLIPS: You felt you were just doing your job?
ENGLAND: Correct. I think they just want somebody to take the blame and they are pointed it at us, just because our faces are in the pictures.
HOW HER FACE WOUND UP IN THESE PICTURES IS A STORY THAT STILL FILLS THIS 22-YEAR-OLD WITH CONFLICTING EMOTIONS... DEFIANCE AND REMORSE, ANGER AND SHAME.
IT'S A STORY THAT BEGINS, ODDLY ENOUGH, WITH A ROMANCE.
SHE WAS A WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAIN GIRL, RAISED ON SOFTBALL AND SQUIRREL HUNTING. HE WAS A FORMER PENNSYLVANIA PRISON GUARD 14 YEARS OLDER.
LYNNDIE ENGLAND MET CHARLES GRANER IN THEIR RESERVE UNIT BACK HOME. BY THE TIME THEY DEPLOYED TO IRAQ IN JUNE 2003, THEY WERE IN LOVE.
ENGLAND: He convinced me that we were going to get married and have kids and all that and I believed it.
PHILLIPS: Loved him deeply?
ENGLAND: Deeply enough to visit him every night at the prison and-- guess do whatever he said. Cause I-- I trusted him.
NARRATION #3: ENGLAND SAYS AFTER WORKING HER DAY SHIFT AS A CLERK, CHECKING PRISONERS IN AND OUT OF ABU GHRAIB.... SHE WOULD MAKE HER WAY ACROSS THE SPRAWLING PRISON COMPLEX TO THE CELLBLOCK, WHERE GRANER WORKED NIGHTS. SHE SPENT SO MUCH TIME THERE WITH HIM, THE DETAINEES EVEN GAVE HER A NICKNAME.
ENGLAND: They'd always call me "Mrs."-- "little Mrs."
PHILLIPS: The detainees would?
ENGLAND: Yeah - I think they knew that me and Grainer were in a relationship. That's
why they called me the "Little Mrs."
NARRATION #4: THOUGH GUARDING AND DISCIPLINING IRAQI PRISONERS WAS NOT HER JOB, ENGLAND SAYS SHE WOULD HELP OUT, SOME NIGHTS ON THE JUVENILE WING TRYING TO GET RESTLESS TEENAGERS, NOT MUCH YOUNGER THAN SHE WAS, TO STOP TALKING AND GO TO SLEEP.
ENGLAND: I mean it was like pulling teeth. They would throw water at each other or at us.
PHILLIPS: Was it hostile? Or was it just more or less teenagers being teenagers?
ENGLAND: Teenagers being teenagers. but then on the other wing was the-- MI wing.
PHILLIPS: Military intelligence.
ENGLAND: Right. That's the wing that Graner-- watched.
PHILLIPS: Much stricter conditions?
NARRATION #5: IT WAS ON TRAX ONE WITH "THE" THAT- MILITARY INTELLIGENCE WING, WHERE DETAINEES SUSPECTED OF HAVING USEFUL INFORMATION ABOUT INSURGENT ACTIVITIES WERE KEPT. AND IT WAS HERE THAT THESE PHOTOGRAPHS WERE TAKEN. ENGLAND SAYS SHE TRIED TO BE PATIENT WHILE ENFORCING RULES ON THE CELL BLOCK, LIKE THE BAN ON TALKING. BUT WHEN THEY DIDN'T OBEY?
ENGLAND: Then that's when you make them-- either strip and handcuff them to their cell door inside their cells. Or you just handcuff 'em to the cell doors clothed.
PHILLIPS: This-- stripping and the handcuffing. Were you participating in that?
ENGLAND: Well I never actually stripped them. I would just tell them. And- ah- they would do it and then I would handcuff them to the cell doors.
PHILLIPS: And-- and who was instructing you to do this?
ENGLAND: Graner would say, "This is what we do when they talk." I'd never been a prison guard before or anything. So, to me, I didn't know if what was okay and what was not. So I looked up to him and I thought, okay he knows what he's doing.
BUT THE STRIPPING AND CUFFING OF PRISONERS IS NOT WHAT GOT LYNNDIE ENGLAND AND HER FELLOW RESERVISTS IN TROUBLE. MILITARY INTELLIGENCE OFFICERS HAVE ADMITTED ORDERING THE RESERVISTS TO DO THAT, NOT ONLY TO ENFORCE DISCIPLINE, BUT AS PART OF A STRATEGY TO GET MORE INFORMATION FROM PRISONERS. MI WAS EVEN USING DOGS TO INTIMIDATE.
THE PROBLEM IS WHAT YOU SEE IN THESE PICTURES... OUTRAGEOUS FORMS OF SEXUAL DEGRADATION. SPEAKING WITH US BEFORE HER TRIAL, ENGLAND SAID THE PICTURES OF HER WERE TAKEN BY GRANER OR AT HIS INSISTENCE...THAT HE PRESSURED HER TO BE A PROP.
ENGLAND: He'd just go get his camera and say ok stand there in the picture and I'm like no I don't want the pictures taken ah come on just take the picture for me and duh duh duh and it's like you couldn't talk him out of it.
PHILLIPS: You've never spoken about these pictures and really described what was going on and the circumstances surrounding them. Can we do that?
NARRATION #7: THIS PICTURE WAS TAKEN ON THE NIGHT OF NOVEMBER 8TH 2003, ENGLAND'S 20TH BIRTHDAY. 7 DETAINEES PUNISHED FOR RIOTING.
PHILLIPS: Tell me about this photograph.
ENGLAND: Grainer had put them in a pyramid position. We didn't know exactly what he was doing at first. He just starting bringing them over and piling 'em. He said, 'well I'm gonna put 'em in a pyramid and he said it was for controlling purposes.
PHILLIPS: Had you ever seen him do this before?
ENGLAND: No this was the only time.
PHILLIPS: He asked you to join him on the other side of this pyramid and
ENGLAND: Yea he said come on I want to have a picture taken with you.
PHILLIPS: What do you think as you look at that picture today?
ENGLAND: Thinking I don't know why he wanted a picture like that. I mean who would?
PHILLIPS: I mean, it looks like something that was done for amusement.
ENGLAND: Maybe for him
PHILLIPS: Smiles on both of your faces.--but you are smiling as well Lynndie.
ENGLAND: Yes I am I admit it. But I just I guess I followed his lead.
PHILLIPS: I mean he couldn't order you to do anything could he?
ENGLAND: No not really but I was so in love with him that I trusted his decisions and did whatever he wanted.
PHILLIPS: Let's go to the next picture
ENGLAND: That one was taken prior to the pyramid.
Narration #8: ENGLAND SAYS WHILE GRANER MAY HAVE FOUND IT AMUSING TO HAVE HER IN PICTURES LIKE THIS, THE RESERVISTS BELIEVED THERE WAS ANOTHER REASON TO HAVE A WOMAN ON THE SCENE... TO HEIGHTEN THE HUMILIATION OF THE MUSLIM DETAINEES, SOFTENING THEM UP FOR INTERROGATION.
ENGLAND: One of the things that they wanted was females to be there so they knew they were being humiliated by having females see them naked.
IN ANOTHER PHOTOGRAPH ENGLAND SAYS DETAINEES WERE LINED UP AND ORDERED BY ANOTHER SOLDIER TO ON THE CELL BLOCK TO MASTURBATE
NARRATION# 9: IN ANOTHER PHOTOGRAPH, ENGLAND SAYS THE SAME 7 DETAINEES FROM THE PYRAMID PICTURE WERE LINED UP AND ORDERED BY ANOTHER SOLDIER ON THE CELL BLOCK TO MASTURBATE.
ENGLAND: And he wanted me in the picture and I was "No WAY" and him and Graner keep being persistent and you know c'mom just take the picture. Take the picture.
PHILLIPS: You don't look like someone who's been forced to pose for this shot.
PHILLIPS: You look like you are into it.
ENGLAND: No, I'm not really smiling. I'm just holding a cigarette in my mouth and it looks like I'm smiling and that's when he snapped the picture. At the time I thought the whole masturbation thing was really odd and really weird it's not I expected to go to prison that night and watch something like that.
NARRATION #10: BUT NO PHOTOGRAPH ENGLAND POSED FOR IS MORE NOTORIOUS.. THAN THIS ONE--THE PETITE U.S. SOLDIER APPARENTLY DRAGGING A MAN ON A LEASH FROM HIS ISOLATION CELL. ONCE AGAIN, ENGLAND CLAIMS THE PICTURE DOESN'T TELL THE WHOLE STORY.
ENGLAND: It was allquiet except for Gus there.
PHILLIPS: Gus is the...is the detainee?
ENGLAND: He was kicking and screaming and making all kinds of noises. It was time to take him back to his regular cell and he wouldn't do it and Graner wrapped the tie-down strap around his neck.
ENGLAND: It was just a loose one and I guess more to humiliate the guy he had me a female grab the tie down strap to and I would tell him to crawl to come out and get up.
PHILLIPS: But did anything inside of you say, "I shouldn't be doing this"? "I shouldn't be letting somebody take-- take a picture of me doing this"?
ENGLAND: Well, at the time I thought, well, I'm not technically dragging him, you know?
PHILLIPS: You weren't pulling him around on this leash like an animal?
ENGLAND: No. You can see there's-- it's-- it's not tight. It's loose. So it wasn't really physically hurting him. It was more humiliating him.
NARRATION #11: AS DISTURBING AS THESE PHOTOGRAPHS ARE, ENGLAND REMAINS CONVINCED THAT MANY OF THESE SCENES MET WITH COMMAND APPROVAL. REMEMBER, AT THE TIME...ATTACKS ON US FORCES IN IRAQ WERE ESCALATING AND SO WAS THE PRESSURE FOR BETTER INTELLIGENCE FROM DETAINEES.AND ENGLAND SAYS SHE SAW GRANER SHARE HIS PHOTOGRAPHS WITH A MILITARY INTELLIGENCE OFFICER, THE M-I.
ENGLAND: Sometimes when the MI would come by the next day, he'd be like, hey look, look what we did last night. And the MI would be like, Oh, that's a good job! I never would have thought of that.
PHILLIPS: He would show them the pictures?
ENGLAND: Yeah, he'd show him and he'd show the command and they'd be like, oh, just keep up the good work,".
PHILLIPS: And do you know that he did this, or did he just tell you?
ENGLAND: I was there. I was there. I seen him show the MI,
PHILLIPS: Pictures of the naked detainees,
ENGLAND: Pyramids all that. And they're like Oh wow, can I get a copy of that you know. They're weren't thinking anything of it.
PHILLIPS: So in your mind that validated what you were doing?
PHILLIPS: Did it make it right to you as a person?
ENGLAND: Well, at the time I didn't really think about it. Cause like I said, it was a job. You knew it was wrong deep down inside, but if they're saying it's okay, then, hey, well...
PHILLIPS: The Army, the Defense Department, even the commander in chief himself all say this was a small group of out of control soldiers, freelancing all of this humiliation, that no one was ordered, and there was no way any of this would have been approved by superiors.
ENGLAND: Well, they're wrong. Cause it was. Pictures were out throughout the prison. The higher-ups knew. They'd seen the pictures. But they were just like, 'Oh, I didn't see that.'
PHILLIPS: How far up the chain of command do you think people were aware of this kind of thing going on?
ENGLAND: Well, I know Lt. Colonel Jordan knew because Graner would talk about it with him. I mean, I didn't see it, but he told me he did.
NARRATION #12: LT. COLONEL STEPHEN JORDAN WAS HEAD OF THE PRISON'S INTERROGATION CENTER. AND ENGLAND SAYS GRANER TOLD HER KNOWLEDGE OF THE PRISONER ABUSE WENT EVEN HIGHER.
ENGLAND: Colonel Pappas, he said knew. He was head of MI.
PHILLIPS: Tom Pappas.
ENGLAND: yeah. Those were the only high, really high ups.
PHILLIPS: I mean, you never, saw them on the cell block and you never saw them talking to Graner about it. But Graner told you...
PHILLIPS: hat they knew about it and approved it.
NARRATION #13: IN MAY, THE ARMY RELIEVED COL.PAPPAS OF HIS COMMAND, GAVE HIM A REPRIMAND AND AN 8 THOUSAND DOLLAR FINE FOR HIS PART IN THE ABU GHRAIB SCANDAL. THE PENTAGON SAYS LT. COLONEL JORDAN'S ROLE IS STILL UNDER INVESTIGATION.
PHILLIPS: Do you think you disgraced this country by posing for these pictures and doing this?
ENGLAND: Well I don't know, It's kind of hard to say I know worse things were happening over there."
ENGLAND SAYS THE HUMILIATION TACTICS SHE ENGAGED IN PALED IN COMPARISON TO WHAT SHE HEARD ONE NIGHT WHEN NON-MILITARY INTERROGATORS TOOK A DETAINEE INTO A SHOWER ROOM.
ENGLAND: I mean it was just awful. They'd put curtains on the shower windows and door and locked it. And when I come up to visit one night, I mean you could hear him screaming they had the shower on to muffle it but it wasn't helping this guy was screaming.
PHILLIPS: Screaming in pain?
ENGLAND: Yeah.. But they wouldn't let us see because they had the doors shut and they're like oh he's enjoying his shower. I mean they never screamed like that when we were humiliating but his guy i mean this guy was like screaming bloody murder. I mean it still haunts me I can still hear it just like it happened yesterday.
NARRATION 15: THIS PAST WEEK, A MILITARY JURY OF 5 MALE OFFICERS FOUND LYNNDIE ENGLAND GUILTY OF PRISONER MALTREATMENT, UNSWAYED BY TESTIMONY FROM CHARLES GRAINER THAT HIGHER UPS KNEW OF THE ABUSE, AND THAT HE HAD, IN FACT, PRESSURED ENGLAND TO POSE IN THE PHOTOGRAPHS. IN COURT SHE APOLOGIZED FOR HER ROLE IN THE SCANDAL.
PHILLIPS: What are you guilty of?
ENGLAND: For doing the wrong thing - posing in pictures when I shouldn't have, degrading them and humiliating, and not saying anything to anybody else to stop it.
NARRATION #16 AS FOR THE MAN SHE LOVED SO DEEPLY, ENGLAND SAYS GRAINER IS THE FATHER OF HER SON.... CONCEIVED AT ABU GHRAIB. BUT THEY NO LONGER HAVE A FUTURE TOGETHER. HE'S SERVING A TEN YEAR SENTENCE... AND IN A BITTER TWIST FOR ENGLAND, HE HAS MARRIED ANOTHER SOLDIER, WHO WAS ALSO INVOLVED IN THE SCANDAL.
ENGLAND NOW FEELS ABANDONED AND USED BY THE MAN WHO HANDED HER THE LEASH, TOLD HER WHERE TO STAND AND ASKED HER TO SMILE.
ENGLAND: (I'm) glad I'm never going to see him again and I'm gonna make damn sure he he doesn't see my son.
PHILLIPS: If your son sees your picture in his history book years from now, what are you going to tell him about what his mother was doing in a situation like this?
ENGLAND: Tell him the truth. Doing my job, what I thought was ok at the time and approved and that his father played a major part in it.
PHILLIPS: "What do you want to say to those detainees that you were photographed with?
ENGLAND: I had no right to do that to them and I'm really sorry. I just hope they forgive me someday.