The Nevada National Guard's top officer said Thursday he had no information about a report that one his soldiers assigned to the troubled Abu Ghraib prison last year was reprimanded after reporting inmate abuse to her superiors.
Maj. Gen. Giles Vanderhoof, Nevada's adjutant general, said in a written statement that he's trying to determine whether the incident had even taken place. He was requested by Gov. Kenny Guinn's chief of staff, Mike Hillerby, to look into the report.
A special agent with the U.S. Army's criminal investigation command testified that he was told about a woman with the Nevada National Guard who had witnessed the abuse.
The woman, described as an "older female soldier," wasn't identified during the Article 32 hearing into the Abu Ghraib abuses, according to a transcript of the hearing obtained by The New York Times.
The paper reported that the woman was "afraid of her chain of command" and sent documentation of the abuse to her relatives.
"We've had numerous discussions and post-deployment sessions with every Nevada Guard unit that has returned from Southwest Asia. Everything we've heard has been positive in regards to the conduct of our guardsmen," Vanderhoof said.
"It's disturbing to us that this third-hand account has come forward and we will follow up to determine if there is validity to these reports."
A spokesman for the Henderson-based 72nd Military Police Company, the guard unit sent to Abu Ghraib, said the unit hadn't received any inquiries from the Department of Defense about the woman. The company was at the prison from April 2003 to November 2003.
"We are not sure of a lot of things at this time," 1st Lt. April Conway said. "We are not even positive who this person is."
Conway said there were about a dozen women in the unit when it deployed. Efforts were being made to contact each woman, she said.
Messages left for Capt. Troy Armstrong, the commander of the 72 Military Police, were not immediately returned.
A spokesman for Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., said his office was looking into the testimony. Ensign is chairman of the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on readiness and management support.