IraqSlogger has confirmed that the U.S. Army's Criminal Investigation Division has opened an investigation into this video, which was first posted on our site last week.
The clip, originally linked via a now defunct account on YouTube, purports to show a former guard from Abu Ghraib talking about torture techniques employed at the American-run prison. The man also recounts the gang rape of a female teenage detainee, in which one guard "pimped" the girl to others for $50 each. As he recalls, "I think at the end of the day he'd made like 500 bucks before she hung herself."
According to chief of public affairs Christopher Grey, "CID Special Agents are looking into the matter and take this issue very seriously. I am not able to provide you with any further details of our activity at this time due to investigative reasons."
At this point, there is no way to confirm if the video is a true representation or not. The video has no publicly-identifiable source at this point, the primary subject appears almost completely in shadow, and the footage has obviously been edited down into a concise 3-minute package.
Previous soldier/atrocity items have caused great media stir, only later to be proven hoaxes. As Grey noted, "We have seen situations where people post videos and pictures on the Internet pretending or leading people to believe they are U.S. soldiers, when in fact they were not even in the military or they never served in OIF or OEF."
The most notorious hoaxes of the Iraq war have been that of Jesse Macbeth, London's Daily Mirror torture photos, and the faked beheading video, though each proved relatively easy to discount once an investigation had begun.
The man allegedly beheaded by Zarqawi had given his full name in the video; the FBI had only to verify he was alive and well in San Francisco to close that case in August 2004.
Photos published by the Daily Mirror in May 2004 purportedly showed British soldiers beating a hooded Iraqi and throwing him into the back of the truck. The Ministry of Defence quickly established that the featured truck had never been in Iraq, though it took a little more investigating to catch the soldiers who'd staged the incident.
In early 2006, soon after Jesse Macbeth became a publicly outspoken "Iraq war vet" willing to detail atrocities wreaked by the U.S. military, DoD verified that he had never even completed basic training.
Since there are no visual clues or names attached to this new video that would immediately rule it out as a hoax, CID will have to do some digging to find out more about its source and main subject. Though Grey declined answering any questions about the approach CID would take to the investigation, circumstances dictate they must start with YouTube.
The Abu Ghraib guard video was first posted on YouTube last Monday by a user called "Deathlyillington." Multiple e-mails to the account went unanswered, and Internet research has turned up no other users posting under that name on any other public Websites.
YouTube has no legal justification to share information about Deathlyillington with IraqSlogger, but according to its own Privacy Notice, the U.S. government needs only to request assistance.
The Deathlyillington account was pulled from YouTube within 24 hours of Iraqslogger bringing it to CID's attention, which may indicate that they have already been in contact and are aggressively forging ahead with the investigation.
YouTube declined to comment on the reasons behind removing the video, and has not responded to follow-up questions.
IraqSlogger will be following up with CID in the coming weeks and will keep this post updated as new information becomes available.
For now, since the blogosphere has assumed the mantle of uber-citizen/journalist, IraqSlogger would like to invite fellow bloggers to do some digging of their own. Please send us links to any new information you uncover regarding this video.
Reader tips on Deathlyillington or the alleged Abu Ghraib guard can be submitting anonymously, or otherwise, via our "Tips" button on the homepage.
A complete transcript of the video is available here.