27 Intel Soldiers Linked To Abuse
23 Were Members Of The Military, 4 Were Contractors
Aug 25, 2004 12:15 pm US/Pacific
WASHINGTON (CBS) Twenty-seven members of an intelligence unit at Abu Ghraib prison either requested or condoned certain abuses of Iraqi prisoners there, an Army investigation found.
"We discovered serious misconduct and a loss of moral values," said Gen. Paul Kern, the head of the investigation, while briefing reporters at the Pentagon. Kern and other officials on Wednesday detailed the results of the investigation, commonly called the Fay report, after one of the chief investigators.
Of the 27 individuals, 23 were members of the military personnel and four were contractors. Another eight, including two contractors, knew of abuse and failed to report it, Kern said.
"There is no single, simple explanation for why the abuse at Abu Ghraib happened," the report's executive summary says. The full report was not provided to reporters.
The summary blames the abuses on several factors: "misconduct (ranging from inhumane to sadistic) by a small group of morally corrupt soldiers and civilians, a lack of discipline on the part of leaders and soldiers," and a "failure or lack of leadership" by higher command in Iraq.
The Fay report makes a distinction between the abuse depicted in many of the now-famous photographs from the prison, which the military says was committed by a small group of rogue guards who were not attached to the intelligence unit there, and abuses committed during interrogations.
Some of the abuses during interrogations were committed by soldiers who were unclear on what techniques they could legally use on prisoners, the report says.
The Fay report is the second investigation on the abuse scandal released this week.
A report issued Tuesday found that inattention to prisoner issues by senior U.S. military leaders in Iraq and at the Pentagon was a key factor in the abuse scandal at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, but there is no evidence they ordered any mistreatment.
The four-member commission appointed by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and headed by former Defense Secretary James R. Schlesinger directly blamed the events at Abu Ghraib on the soldiers there and their immediate commanders.
It also said senior commanders and top-level Pentagon officials, including Rumsfeld, can be faulted for failed leadership and oversight.
"We found fundamental failures throughout all levels of command, from the soldiers on the ground to (U.S.) Central Command and to the Pentagon," said Tillie Fowler, a former Republican congresswoman who served on the panel.
"These failures of leadership helped to set the conditions which allowed the abusive practices to take place," Fowler said.
No senior officials deserve to lose their jobs, the Schlesinger commission members told reporters Tuesday while releasing their findings. They said they believed the Pentagon was on a path to remedying the underlying causes of the abuse.
Schlesinger's review criticizes senior leaders for not focusing on issues stemming from the detention of large numbers of prisoners in Iraq. This lack of attention and resources contributed to the chaotic conditions at Abu Ghraib, the report said.
In particular, war planners at the Joint Chiefs of Staff did not expect a widespread anti-U.S. insurgency or the breakdown of civil order in postwar Iraq, so they did not plan or provide resources for the operation of a large American-run prison system, commissioners said.
Nor did senior leaders fully clarify what interrogation methods were permissible at Abu Ghraib. In some cases, harsher techniques approved for use against al Qaeda and Taliban fighters were employed against Iraqi prisoners.
The Schlesinger report assigned significant blame to Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, saying he should have ensured that his staff dealt with the command and resource problems at Abu Ghraib when they first came to light in November 2003. Still, it acknowledges that Sanchez was focused on combating a mounting Iraqi insurgency at the time.
Schlesinger said soldiers who stacked naked Iraqi prisoners in pyramids, forced them into positions of sexual humiliation and confronted them with snarling guard dogs were renegades.
The abuse depicted in the Abu Ghraib photographs made public was "a kind of 'Animal House' on the night shift," Schlesinger said -- in other words, acts of sadism committed by low-ranking guards for their own entertainment.
The report described the abuse as "acts of brutality and purposeless sadism," and said -- as have others who reviewed the case -- that the soldiers involved were not acting on approved orders or policies.
On the other hand, the report contradicts the Bush administration's assertion that the problem was limited to a few soldiers acting on their own. So far, seven military police soldiers have faced criminal charges; two dozen or more military intelligence soldiers may also be charged, but it appears increasingly unlikely that top-level commanders will be disciplined.
About a third of 66 substantiated cases of abuse were committed during interrogations, presumably by military intelligence personnel or people working with them, the Schlesinger report said. At least five prisoners died as a result of abuses committed during questioning. Twenty three deaths - three in Afghanistan and the rest in Iraq - are still under investigation.
The Schlesinger report did not cast blame solely on military interrogators, police and their chain of command at prisoner abuses in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Others who may have played a role included CIA officers, special operations forces, contract interrogators and military dog handlers.
The Schlesinger panel said disciplinary action "may be forthcoming" against Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who commanded the 800th Military Police Brigade at Abu Ghraib; and Col. Thomas M. Pappas, commander of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, which was assigned to Abu Ghraib last year.
Karpinski has maintained that she was not alerted to abuses at Abu Ghraib until they were brought to the attention of Sanchez, her commander, in January 2004.