Lynndie England

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"Rumsfeld knew"

 © AFP
One of the pictures that brought her questionable fame: In this undated photo published in late May 2004 US soldier Lynndie England holds a leash apparently wrapped around the neck of a naked Iraqi detainee

She ist one of the faces symbolizing the Iraq war. Pictures showing her abusing Iraqi detainees in Abu Graib prison brought her notorious fame throughout the world. In her first interview in three years Lynndie England talks about Abu Ghraib, about Charles Graner, about guilt, her current life - and the role of the Bush administration.

Mrs. England, a year ago you were released from jail after serving 521 days of a three-year sentence. How are you feeling now?
Not great but good.

What does that mean?
(She sighs) Oh, it's just little things going wrong. I'm just trying to get by. Trying to find a job, trying to find a house. It's been harder than I expected. I went to a couple of interviews, and I thought they went great. I wrote dozens of applications. Nothing came of it. I put in at Wal-Mart, at Staples. I'd do any job. But I never heard from them.

Do you think your name has anything to do with it?
I am starting to wonder if they realize who I am and they don't want the publicity. I don't want to lie. On my resume I have a brief little paragraph about what I did in the army and about being in prison and that I'm still on parole. I want to be totally honest. I have to find a job by September, that's part of the parole regulations. If you break the rules, then they can bring you back. That would be a big deal because I don't want to leave my son.

Das Interview in deutscher Sprache...

lesen Sie im neuen stern.
How do you get by? What do you live on?
We just got our taxes back. Thank God. Otherwise, I don't know. I live in a trailer with my parents. My Dad works for the railway and he tries to help out with bills and my Mom helps me with what she gets.

You live in Ashby, a small town with a population of 1300. How do people treat you now?
They don't treat me any different. I haven't met a person yet that's been negative to me. Not since I got home. Most of them back me up one hundred percent. They say, "What happened to you was wrong." And some even say they would have done the same thing.

What do they mean by "They would have done the same thing"?
That they would have followed orders, just as I did in Abu Ghraib.

Why did you join the army at the age of 17 and against the express wishes of your mother?
I always wanted to be in the military. My whole life. I just didn't know what branch - Navy, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Air Force. I just wanted to serve my country and be a patriot, I guess. As a child I mainly grew up on military gung-ho movies so that's where I got the idea. Old Chuck Norris movies, "Delta Force", "Rambo", "Missing in Action", "Platoon".
It was always said that you saw the army as an opportunity to finance your education.
That was a bonus, no more than that. It wasn't the main reason. Just look at this place. There aren't very many jobs to be had outside of the army.

You were a reservist with the 372nd MP unit. That is where you first met and fell in love with Charles Graner, the so-called "ring-leader" at Abu Ghraib.
Yes, that was right before we were deployed. I really didn't even notice him because at the time I was married. He kept following me around, like when I went out for a smoke break. He didn't even smoke but he started smoking just to hang out with me. I started talking about my problems at home and he suggested I leave my husband. I was dumb enough to listen to him and I ended up believing him.

What did you like about Graner?
I really don't know.

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