Senator Questions Involvement of Former Utah Prisons Chief in Iraq

Senator Questions Involvement of Former Utah Prisons Chief in Iraq

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(Washington-AP) -- A senator has asked Justice Department officials to explain why they sent a former state corrections chief who had been involved in prisoner mistreatment investigations to Iraq to help set up the prison system.

Senator Charles Schumer of New York pointed to a picture of former Utah Corrections chief Lane McCotter touring Abu Ghraib with Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz.

McCotter was in Baghdad from May to September last year overseeing the reconstruction of Abu Ghraib.

McCotter has issued statements condemning abuses in Iraq and saying his work involved the structural status of the prisons.

McCotter was corrections director in Texas, New Mexico and Utah. In 1988, a court-appointed prison monitor accused New Mexico state prison officials of erasing a portion of a videotape of a prison disturbance to cover up acts of brutality. McCotter accused the prison monitor of fabricating atrocities.

He resigned from his Utah post in 1997, two months after a mentally ill inmate died after spending 16 hours strapped to a restraining chair.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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