Military interrogators at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq learned about the use of military working dogs to intimidate detainees from a team...

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WASHINGTON — Military interrogators at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq learned about the use of military working dogs to intimidate detainees from a team of interrogators sent from the U.S. detention facility in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, according to court testimony yesterday.

One interrogation analyst also testified that sleep deprivation and forced nudity — used in Cuba on high-value detainees — later were approved tactics at Abu Ghraib. Another soldier said interrogators would regularly pass instructions to have dog handlers and military police “scare up” detainees as part of interrogation plans.

The preliminary hearing at Fort Meade, Md., for two Army dog handlers accused of mistreating detainees provided more evidence that severe tactics approved for suspected terrorists at Guantánamo migrated to Iraq and spiraled into the notorious abuse at Abu Ghraib in late summer and early fall 2003. Soldiers testified that the top military intelligence officer at the prison, Col. Thomas Pappas, approved the use of dogs for interrogations.

Pvt. Ivan “Chip” Frederick, one of the ringleaders of abuse by military police who is serving an eight-year prison term, testified by phone from Fort Leavenworth, Kan., that interrogators were authorized to use dogs and that a civilian contract interrogator left him lists of the cells he wanted dog handlers to visit. “They were allowed to use them to … intimidate inmates,” Frederick said.

Sgt. Santos Cardona, 31, of California, and Sgt. Michael Smith, 24, of Florida are charged with maltreatment of detainees, largely for allegedly encouraging and permitting unmuzzled working dogs to threaten and attack them. Prosecutors have focused on an incident caught in published photographs, when the two men allegedly cornered a naked detainee and allowed the dogs to bite him on each thigh as he cowered.

This week’s hearing is the military’s equivalent of a civilian preliminary court hearing or grand-jury investigation. Maj. Glenn Simpkins, as investigating officer, will recommend whether authorities should send charges to a court-martial, whether the soldiers should face administrative punishment or whether no charges should be pursued.

Cardona faces nine separate counts and a possible maximum sentence of 16 ½ years in prison; Smith faces 14 separate counts and a possible maximum sentence of 29 ½ years in prison.

Meanwhile yesterday, military officials said a company of California Army National Guard soldiers has been put on restricted duty and the battalion plunged into disarray amid allegations of misconduct in Iraq, including mistreatment of detainees and the apparent extortion of money from shopkeepers.

Col. David Baldwin, a California state Guard spokesman, confirmed yesterday that investigations have started into the accusations of mistreatment of prisoners by members of a Fullerton-based unit of the 1st company of the 184th Infantry Regiment known as Alpha Company.

The company, made up of roughly 130 soldiers, is deployed at Forward Operating Base Falcon, outside Baghdad, Iraq.

Baldwin also confirmed an investigation of alleged extortion, which involves members of another company.

The battalion’s commander, Lt. Col. Patrick Frey, has been suspended while the investigation is conducted, Baldwin said.

Material on the California National Guard investigation is from the Los Angeles Times