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Interview with James Canjar, David Girman

Aired July 29, 2003 - 19:33   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I don't know how closely you've been following the case of four soldiers charged with abusing prisoners of war in Iraq. Now, earlier this month, the soldiers were charged with assault for allegedly punching and kicking prisoners held at the largest U.S. run POW camp in Iraq. Three of the four are also charged with making false statements to investigators. The soldiers now await the military equivalent of a grand jury investigation which could get under way this week.
We wanted to talk to the accused soldiers but the military has asked them not to discuss the case. So instead we're joined by James Canjar the father one soldier and David Girman the brother of another soldier. They join us live from Pennsylvania. I appreciate you joining us.

James let me start off with you. Your son Tim is accused of accused of holding down the legs of one POW, twisting the arm of another as well. They're facing this basically a grand jury.

Do you know what their or his version or what his version of the events is?

JAMES CANJAR, FATHER OF ACCUSED SOLDIER: Well, because of a gag order invoked we're not at liberty to give any information out. And Timmy won't give us any new information. But I would like to say is that these charges are bogus. My son and these people's credentials are outstanding. If their company commander had used a little common sense I think he would have personally been able to handle this matter instead of it getting to the length of it has.

COOPER: Well, James what do you think is going on?

Because in a sense all this came about because allegedly other soldiers witnessed some of these things going on, and that's how all this came into prominence.

Do you believe that it was other soldiers who basically turn yours son and the others in?

CANJAR: I understand there may be some. Their credibility, I would question. Like I said, my son and those other soldiers accused only used the force they had to regain control of a bad situation.

COOPER: David, let me ask you, your sister, Lisa, who by the way has been in the military for like 17 years, I believe, also has been a state trooper I think, for 14 years, correct me if I'm wrong here, she's basically charged along with everyone else.

Have you been able to talk to her?

Have you been able to find out what her defense is going to be?

We've gotten some audio problems problems. We just lost our contact with them. It happens in live TV, sometimes. We'll try to get back in touch with them. They were in Pennsylvania.

Let me just try, James and David, can you hear me again?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can hear you.

COOPER: They're back apparently. Sorry, we lost you for a second. David you have been able to talk to your sister, Lisa, at all to find out what her defense is going to be for all this?

DAVID GIRMAN, FATHER OF ACCUSED SOLDIER: Sure. There seems to be a lack of trust and confidence in regard to the way these prison camps are being run. It seems that the United States' soldiers are being neglected and ignored in favor of treatment of -- special treatment to the Iraqi prisoners. There were many serious incidents that occurred prior to the investigation that basically depicts an incompetent level of command causing confusion and chaos among the U.S. soldiers. It seems to us that this investigation is serving as a deflection so that the abuse and neglect being experienced by the U.S. soldiers -- by their commanding officers is not actually being looked upon.

COOPER: So in a sense you're saying there's some sort of cover- up going on?

GIRMAN: Actually, yes, I am.

CANJAR: Absolutely, yes.

COOPER: Obviously the -- I mean, do you have any confidence in the military?

They say they're going to have the equivalent of I think it's an article 32 hearing, equivalent of a grand jury investigation, in which not only your son, your sister, are going to be able to speak in their own defense, interview witnesses.

Do you have confidence in what you say is the truth is going to come out?

GIRMAN: I believe that what's in the statements by the witnesses and what prosecution has to present, because it took 12 weeks to file the charges, I think they're actually reaching and they're trying to develop some kind of scenario that's not really based on the truth. So we feel that once this is heard by a panel of their peers, and by fellow service men, that the truth will come out and it will be in their favor.

COOPER: I think everyone agrees they want the truth to come out. James Canjar and David Girman, appreciate you joining us to talk about the case.

Thanks you very much.


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