Report Faults Intelligence Soldiers at Abu Ghraib
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 25, 2004 Military intelligence personnel did participate in abusing some prisoners in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, the three top officials in the Army's investigation said at a news conference here today.
Army Gen. Paul J. Kern, commander of the Army Materiel Command and the appointing authority for the investigation, said his group uncovered 44 incidents of abuse at the facility outside Baghdad. Twenty-four of these were classified as "serious incidents of physical or sexual abuse."
Kern discussed the report compiled by Army Lt. Gen. Anthony R. Jones, deputy commander of Training and Doctrine Command, and Army Maj. Gen. George R. Fay, the Army's No. 2 intelligence officer. Kern said that 54 military intelligence, military police and medical soldiers and contractors had some degree of culpability in the abuse. The period covered by the report went from Sept. 20 to Dec. 13, 2003.
Some of these soldiers have been referred to court-martial, others are being investigated, and others already have accepted punishment. The Army has referred the contractor cases to the Justice Department for further action.
The generals said the abuse fell into two categories: intentional violent or sexual abuse, or abusive actions taken based on misinterpretations or confusion regarding law or policy.
The report found that there was no direct complicity in abuse at command levels above the brigade, but that commanders and staff officers at Combined Joint Task Force 7 should have recognized the signs of trouble and taken corrective action.
Jones said people cannot view the abuse at Abu Ghraib in a vacuum. He noted that CJTF 7 was not manned to handle the missions it had of fighting a counterinsurgency operation and supporting the Coalition Provisional Authority. The first priority had to be fighting the insurgents, Jones said.
"CJTF 7 devoted its resources to fighting the counterinsurgency and supporting the CPA, thereby saving coalition and civilian Iraqi lives and assisting in the transition to Iraqi self-rule," the report's executive summary says. "In the overall scheme of (Operation Iraqi Freedom), the CJTF 7 commander and staff performed above expectations."
Fay said that in his investigation he found 23 military intelligence soldiers and four MI contractors directly participated in abuse of prisoners, and six MI soldiers and two contractors knew of the abuse and did not report it. Ten military police officers participated in the abuse at Abu Ghraib, one MP knew of the abuse and did not report it, and two medics saw signs of the abuse and did not report it. Also, senior Army officials said, a colonel, two majors, a captain and a warrant officer have been implicated indirectly in the abuse scandal.
Officials said that on an individual basis, some MPs and some MI personnel colluded. "These were rare and were not legal," Fay said. He said that 27 MI personnel allegedly "requested, encouraged, condoned or solicited MP personnel to abuse detainees" or participated in abuse.
Other government agencies also complicated the situation at the prison. There were at least eight "ghost detainees" detainees placed at the prison by other government agencies that the Army did not record as entering the prison. One was placed at the prison and later died of injuries. Kern said the CIA Inspector General's Office has agreed to investigate the extent of the ghost detainee problem.
Kern said that one instance of abuse is too many, and urged reporters not to taint the more than 400,000 Americans who have served honorably and nobly in Afghanistan and Iraq. Only a small number of people are responsible for the sadistic and brutal acts. "The vast majority of U.S. service members are serving with courage, honor and distinction," Kern said.
Kern, Jones and Fay said the military in general and the Army particularly have already taken steps to ensure this abuse does not happen again. Kern and other senior officials praised Army Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, who is responsible for detainee operations for Multinational Force Iraq. Kern said Miller has brought discipline, responsibility and order to the situation.
The Army already has incorporated lessons learned from the scandal into training for all deploying forces. Mobile MP training teams have been sent to Iraq to ensure that all units have the latest training. The service also has incorporated lessons learned in training military intelligence professionals and the service has launched a long-range effort to have more interpreters and interrogators versed in Arab culture.
The report follows by a day the Schlesinger report that reviewed DoD's detainment operations. Former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger said his panel also found no direct involvement by senior commanders in abuse at the prison. However, he did say that detainee operations were inadequately manned and equipped, and that commanders up to the Pentagon level shared some blame for the state of affairs.
Schlesinger said he is concerned that the publicity given the abuse scandal will have a "chilling effect" on interrogators. A senior Army official said that detainees may now read reams of data about detainee operations and develop countermeasures to interrogators' techniques. And interrogators themselves might not use the full spectrum of resources and techniques available to them for fear of getting arrested, the official said.