Abuse Resulted From Leadership Failure, Taguba Tells Senators
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May. 11, 2004 Detainee abuse allegedly committed by U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq resulted from a lack of leadership, Army Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba told the Senate Armed Services Committee today.
Early in the Capitol Hill hearing, Taguba was asked point-blank for his opinion on what went wrong at the Baghdad detention facility.
Taguba, who headed the investigation and prepared the report on alleged detainee abuse at the prison, asserted there was "failure in leadership from the brigade commander on down" at Abu Ghraib.
There was a lack of discipline and supervision at the facility, the general observed. Soldiers had received "no training whatsoever," he said, on internment or resettlement operations or on the Geneva Convention during their tour of duty at the prison.
The soldiers' leaders, Taguba asserted, "should have, could have provided the necessary resources" to train the soldiers.
The Abu Ghraib scandal erupted April 28 when CBS's "60 Minutes II" program aired photographs depicting U.S. military guards humiliating naked Iraqi prisoners.
Seven soldiers have been brought up on criminal charges related to allegations of abusing Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib between October and December 2003. The officer in charge of military police guards at the prison, Army Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, commander of the 800th Military Police Brigade, has received an official admonishment.
Taguba told the committee he found no evidence of a standing policy at the prison for MP guards to first soften up prisoners before questioning by military intelligence and other interrogators.
"I believe that they did it on their own volition," the general noted. "We didn't find any order whatsoever written or otherwise, that directed them to do what they did."
Taguba said the alleged perpetrators used their personal cameras to take the photos.
"The photographing of prisoners, especially with private cameras, is against the rules," Air Force Lt. Gen. Lance L. Smith, U.S. Central Command's deputy commander, said to the committee. Smith and Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Stephen A. Cambone accompanied Taguba at the hearing.
Cambone told committee members that all of the facts regarding alleged detainee abuse aren't in yet. Other investigations are ongoing, he pointed out, including a probe into military intelligence operations.