Thursday, August 26, 2004

An Army report into military intelligence activities at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison reveals that 27 soldiers or civilians abused Iraqi prisoners due to criminal activity or confusing interrogation rules.

Army Gen. Paul J. Kern, who led the high-level inquiry into members of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade that was posted at Abu Ghraib, said yesterday that 44 cases of abuse were found, including one case when Iraqi adolescents were threatened by guard dogs and interrogators who forced prisoners to be questioned naked.

“We discovered serious misconduct and a loss of moral values,” Gen. Kern told reporters in releasing the 177-page report yesterday. “We found that the pictures you have seen, as revolting as they are, were not the result of any doctrine, training or policy failures, but violations of the law and misconduct.”

The Army probe follows the release of another report Tuesday by an independent review panel headed by former Defense Secretary James R. Schlesinger. The so-called Schlesinger Report also says that most prisoner abuse was the result of a small group of soldiers who violated Army rules and law and was not part of an official policy that sanctioned abuse.

The abuses described in both reports include prisoner beatings and sexual crimes that included rape, sodomy and indecent assault. Most but not all of the violence and sex abuse took place apart from prisoners who were being interrogated for intelligence, the Army report says.

Gen. Kern also said that military leaders at Abu Ghraib who learned of the misconduct “did nothing.”

“The concern we have is on the failures of leadership through a number of chains of command that took place,” he said.

The investigation led jointly by Gen. Kern, Lt. Gen. Anthony R. Jones and Maj. Gen. George R. Fay concludes that there was no single cause for the abuses at Abu Ghraib. The 44 cases of abuse range from interrogation rules violations that involved harsh treatment to what the report called “inhuman and sadistic” treatment.

The abuses were carried out by “a small group of morally corrupt soldiers and civilians,” and caused by a lack of discipline by leaders and soldiers of the brigade and a “failure or lack of leadership by multiple echelons” within the U.S. military in Iraq, a unit known as Combined Joint Task Force-7, the report says.

The prison problems also resulted from not having enough interrogators, military police or soldiers who could provide security for the facility located in a combat zone.

Gen. Fay said that some of the activities uncovered during the probe amounted to torture.

“There were very few instances where in fact you could say that was torture,” Gen. Fay said. “It’s a harsh word, and in some instances, unfortunately, I think it was appropriate here. There were a few instances when torture was being used.”

A total of 23 military intelligence soldiers and four civilian contractors were found to be involved in abuse. Eight others, including six military and two civilians, learned of the abuse and failed to report it to authorities.

The Army report also identifies eight persons who were involved in CIA abuses of prisoners. The CIA violated Army rules by keeping undocumented “ghost prisoners” at the prison in Baghdad.

At least one of the ghost prisoners died in custody after he was hit in the head with a rifle butt by a Navy SEAL during his capture.

A CIA officer violated Army interrogation rules by drawing his weapon placing a round in the chamber and then placing in a holster, the report says.

The Army investigation has been forwarded to Army authorities and the Justice Department for possible prosecution.

Photographs made public in April showed soldiers forcing naked Iraqi prisoners into what the report calls “dog piles” of people, and using dogs to intimidate prisoners.

The report states that of the 23 U.S. military intelligence soldiers linked by investigators to the abuses, 15 of the soldiers were involved in abuses that were the result of not knowing the interrogation rules.

Additionally, Col. Thomas Pappas, commander of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, is identified as being indirectly responsible for the abuses, although he was not involved in the activities and did not know about them.

Other officers the report identifies who face disciplinary action include: Lt. Col. Stephen L. Jordan, director of the Joint Interrogation Debriefing Center; Maj. David M. Price, Maj. Michael D. Thompson, and Capt. Carolyn A. Wood, who worked at Abu Ghraib.

Seventeen enlisted soldiers and six civilian contractors from the CACI and the Titan Corp. who were not identified by name, also are singled out for further disciplinary action.

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of the military in Iraq at the time and his deputy, Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski, are criticized in the report for failing to provide oversight of prison activities at Abu Ghraib.

At least four other command-level officials also are identified by the investigation as having responsibility for the abuses, although Gen. Kern declined to name the officers.

Gen. Kern said the report was produced so that it can be used by other military and civilian officials for a criminal investigation.

The report describes violent abuses as “delivering head blows rendering detainees unconscious,” and “sexual posing and forced participation in group masturbation.”

“At the extremes were the death of a detainee in [CIA] custody, an alleged rape committed by a U.S. translator and observed by a female soldier, and the alleged sexual assault of a female detainee,” the report said. The report says the abuses were “not directly tied to a systemic U.S. approach to torture or approved treatment of detainees.”

The improper use of dogs to abuse prisoners at Abu Ghraib was based on a policy of “exploiting Arab fear of dogs.”

Gen. Kern said that in one case two teams of military police used dogs on two young Iraqis in a game that sought to force them to defecate or urinate.

The use of nudity during interrogations was imported from prisoner handling in Afghanistan and at the prison at the U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Prisoners also were put into darkened and hot or cold isolation rooms as part of interrogations. Some were forced to wear women’s underwear, the report states.

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