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Iraq War 10 Years Later: Where Are They Now? Lynndie England (Abu Ghraib)

Jessica Lynch. Tommy Franks.  'Chemical Ali.' Tony Blair. Hans Blix. Ten years ago, as the war in Iraq began, these were names on front pages everywhere. Find out what has happened to them – and 10 other headliners associated with the conflict – since.

Lynndie England (Abu Ghraib)

Exclusive to the Washington Post

A naked detainee at the Abu Ghraib prison is tethered by a leash to prison guard Army Pvt. Lynndie England in this undated photo.

THEN
If fellow West Virginian Jessica Lynch became the personification of American valor in Iraq, another private first class, Lynndie England, came to symbolize the ugly side of the United States when photos of her and other soldiers abusing Iraqi detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison surfaced in April 2004. 

England, along with other members of the Maryland-based 372nd Military Police Company, had been stationed at Abu Ghraib, a large jail outside Baghdad that had been used by the Saddam Hussein regime, since mid-2003. 

Top military officials first became aware of the Abu Ghraib abuses in January 2004. The scandal after the pictures became public tarnished the military’s image worldwide and particularly in the Arab world.

On September 26, 2005, England was convicted of one count of conspiracy, four counts of maltreating detainees and one count of committing an indecent act. She was acquitted on a second conspiracy count. England was sentenced to three years for her crimes and given a dishonorable discharge. The next day, when she was sentenced, she apologized for appearing in the pictures, though not for the maltreatment and assault committed on the prisoners. 

 

Seven other members of her company were charged with similar offences, including her then-boyfriend, Sgt, Charles Graner, who was sentenced to ten years for his role in the abuse. She gave birth to a son, Carter Allan England, in October 2004 at Womack Army Medical Center on Fort Bragg. News accounts described Graner as both the father of the child and England’s “ex-boyfriend.”


 

Vicki Smith/AP file

Lynndie England, former Army reservist and the face of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, is pictured in Keyser, W.Va. on June 17, 2009.

NOW
To serve her sentence, England was sent to the Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar, located near San Diego, Calif. The brig is the Department of Defense’s only prison designated for women, Brewster Schenck, a spokesman for the facility, told the San Diego Union. 

In December 2005, according to wire service reports, her family complained in that she was burned and given inadequate medical treatment. 

England worked in the kitchen of the prison, from which she was paroled on March 1, 2007, after having served 521 days, according to a Reuters report.  She remained on parole through September 2008, when her three-year sentence was complete and she received a dishonorable discharge. 

In July 2007, The Associated Press reported that England had found a new role – as a member of the Keyser, W.Va., volunteer recreation board. England contributed her knowledge of computers, electronics and graphics for Keyser’s Strawberry Festival, which helped her land the unpaid position, Roy Hardy, the England family’s attorney, told the AP. 

When [council members] saw how hard she worked for the festival, they didn’t hesitate to put her on the board,” said Hardy, who is also a board member. “If it wasn’t for her, we wouldn’t have been able to pull off [the Strawberry Festival]. She was an absolute asset.” 

Hard worker or not, England has found it difficult to find a paying job. According to January, 2009, interview in London’s Guardian newspaper, many jobs are closed to her because of her felony conviction while others suddenly close after people find about her background.

The only employment England can muster, The Daily website reported in March 2012, is seasonal secretarial work for an accountant who has known her since she was a teen.

Most of her time is spent at her parents’ home in Fort Ashby, W.Va., where she lives with her son by Graner. Her former boyfriend is not in the child’s life, despite a 2009 paternity test proving he is the father. “Graner didn’t want anything to do with the baby,” England told The Daily.

In her interview with the Daily, Lynndie expressed no remorse for her actions. “Their (Iraqis’) lives are better. They got the better end of the deal,” she said. “They weren’t innocent. They’re trying to kill us, and you want me to apologize to them? It’s like saying sorry to the enemy.”

England became a focal point of the scandal in part because she was a woman and partly because she was pictured in many of the more graphic photos, including one that showed her smiling and posing with nude prisoners stacked in a pyramid. In another picture, she is smiling and pointing at a naked detainee’s genitals while a cigarette dangles from the corner of her mouth. 

IRAQ TEN YEARS LATER: WHERE ARE THEY NOW?