Individuals, not System, at Fault in Abuse Case
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 3, 2004 Soldiers who allegedly abused and tortured Iraqi prisoners acted as individuals, said the spokesman for the Combined Joint Task Force 7 during an interview on NBC's "Today" program.
Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the command's deputy operations director, said these are cases of individual criminal conduct. "Nobody gave them the order to break the law," he said. "Nobody gave them the order to violate their integrity."
Kimmitt said his response to the allegations at Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad is the same as every other soldier in Iraq: "just absolute disgust."
Six soldiers face courts-martial for the offenses. Another six have received reprimands for their actions or lack of actions, Kimmitt said in a follow-up interview. When the alleged acts occurred, the prison was under the control of a company of the 800th Military Police Brigade out of New York. The 16th Military Police Brigade (Airborne) from Fort Bragg, N.C., now runs Abu Ghraib.
Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, commander of CJTF 7, has ordered a third investigation into military intelligence aspects of the case.
The case has caused outrage throughout the Middle East, officials said. Pictures of the torture and humiliation have appeared on the front pages of Arabic-language newspapers throughout the region. "We need as Americans to be a bright, shining light for the treatment of prisoners," Kimmitt said. "We have to demonstrate to the world that our soldiers treat their soldiers with dignity and respect. Otherwise we have no right to ask that of our adversaries. That does have me concerned."
Kimmitt said the actions of a few do not indicate a systemic problem throughout the Army. The general said those in charge needed to do more "checking, double- checking and rechecking. And it's also having the guts to stand up, when you find something's wrong, to stand up and say, 'That's wrong, and we need to fix it.'"