The video, made public on Monday, was shot by Florida National Guard soldiers.
They edited and compiled it into a DVD in January 2004, with various sections bearing titles such as Those Crafty Little Bastards, and Another Day, Another Mission, Another Scumbag.
The soldiers’ unit served in the city of Ramadi, about 110km west of Baghdad, before returning home a year ago.
The video’s existence had been revealed in army documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union under court order through the Freedom of Information Act.
The Pentagon did not release the video, saying it believed it had been destroyed. But a Florida newspaper, The Palm Beach Post, obtained it and posted some of it on its website on Monday.
No criminal charges
The ACLU has obtained thousands of pages of documents from the Pentagon and said they show a pattern of widespread abuses of detainees by military forces in Iraq.
“It didn’t rise to the level of criminal abuse, according to the investigations. Clearly, the soldiers probably exercised poor judgement … and I’m sure that they were admonished by their command for their actions”
Jeremy Martin, army spokesman
Digital pictures that were disclosed last year of US soldiers abusing prisoners at Iraq‘s Abu Ghraib prison drew international condemnation.
Soldiers depicted in the new video would not face criminal charges, the Pentagon said.
One section of the video shows a bound and wounded prisoner sprawled on the ground, and displays his bullet entry and exit wounds.
At one point, a US soldier kicks the prisoner in the face.
Army documents quoted a soldier at the scene as saying he “thought the dude eventually died. We weren’t in any hurry to call the medics”.
In another part of the video, a soldier grabs the arm of a truck driver who has just been shot dead and makes the corpse wave to the camera.
The events that preceded the incident were not shown on the video.
The abuse scandals have stained
The newspaper reported that US troops had stopped the truck and ordered the driver to step out, but he ran back into the vehicle and sped away only to be shot dead by a US soldier.
It said the booby-trapped rear door of the truck exploded.
Documents released by the Pentagon showed that army criminal investigators looked into the matter and decided no criminal charges were warranted against the soldiers.
The documents showed the army deemed the actions shown on the video “inappropriate” rather than criminal.
“It didn’t rise to the level of criminal abuse, according to the investigations,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Jeremy Martin, a spokesman at the Pentagon.
“Clearly, the soldiers probably exercised poor judgment … and I’m sure that they were admonished by their command for their actions.”
“It’s difficult for me to understand why nobody was held accountable for the abuse of detainees here. There’s no justification for kicking an enemy prisoner of war when he’s wounded on the ground in front of you and about to die”
Ramadi has been a flashpoint in the guerrilla war that followed the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Thousands of Iraqis have been killed in the war as well as more than 1500 US troops.
ACLU lawyer Jamil Jaffer said the army documents indicated that a soldier stated he destroyed disks containing the video to avoid having it released to the news media, and a colonel stated the unit’s leaders would probably destroy copies.
“It’s difficult for me to understand why nobody was held accountable for the abuse of detainees here. There’s no justification for kicking an enemy prisoner of war when he’s wounded on the ground in front of you and about to die,” Jaffer said.
“Clearly, there’s some stuff in this video that’s inappropriate but not criminal. But then there’s quite a lot of other stuff in here that does seem to be criminal,” he added.