Army blames dozens in acts at Abu Ghraib

Intelligence troops faulted in new report on abuses, none above prison colonel

More-horrific incidents alleged

August 12, 2004|By Tom Bowman | Tom Bowman,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON - A long-awaited report on the role of the Army's military intelligence troops in the abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison will recommend that more than two dozen soldiers be disciplined but would spare anyone above the colonel who commanded them at the infamous facility outside Baghdad, Pentagon officials said yesterday.

The Army report, expected to be released by the end of the month, contends that responsibility for the abuses goes beyond the seven soldiers from a Maryland-based military police unit who up to now are the only ones to face charges in the scandal, said the officials, who requested anonymity.

The Pentagon officials said the report alleges even more troubling incidents than have been portrayed to date in the testimony of prisoners and soldiers as well as widely circulated pictures of naked Iraqi detainees stacked in pyramids, held on a leash or faced with snarling guard dogs. The officials provided no details.

The report recommends action against the military intelligence soldiers that ranges from administrative punishment carrying penalties such as loss of pay and reduction in rank to the military equivalent of a grand jury proceeding that could lead to court-martial, the officials said.

Most if not all of the soldiers implicated in the report, officials said, are from the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, which is based in Germany and was assigned to Abu Ghraib during the period when the abuses occurred, October through December last year.

The brigade's commander, Col. Thomas M. Pappas, has received a letter of reprimand for failing to ensure that his soldiers were properly trained and that they adhered to the protections afforded detainees under the Geneva Conventions.

No officers senior to Pappas will be recommended for disciplinary action in the report, officials said.

Members of Congress have questioned whether higher-ranking officers - perhaps the top U.S. commander in Iraq at the time, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez - should be held accountable.

Attorneys for the seven soldiers from Western Maryland's 372nd Military Police Company who are facing charges have long complained that their clients are being made scapegoats and that the abuses were encouraged by military intelligence personnel as a way to gain "actionable intelligence" from detainees about the increasing attacks on U.S. forces.

The report recommends a number of changes in training and doctrine for the Army's military intelligence troops, principally in how interrogations are carried out, to prevent further abuses, officials said.

The Army investigates

Maj. Gen. George Fay, the No. 2 officer at Army intelligence, initially spearheaded the investigation that began in April to examine interrogation practices and procedures at the prison and determine the possible involvement of intelligence personnel.

In June, Fay became the No. 2 investigator when the Army placed a more senior general in charge to clear the way for the questioning of Sanchez. The Army appointed Lt. Gen. Anthony R. Jones, deputy commander of the Army Training and Doctrine Command, who has the same three-star rank as Sanchez.

Sanchez has said that he was unaware of the problems at Abu Ghraib until January, when a soldier from the 372nd, Spc. Joseph M. Darby, approached Army officials with photographs showing abuse of Iraqi detainees, which sparked the investigation.

The military intelligence report was ordered on the heels of another investigation by Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, the deputy commander of coalition ground forces, who focused on the role of military police at the prison, especially soldiers of the 372nd, an Army Reserve unit from Cresaptown, near Cumberland.

Seven face charges

Criminal charges were brought against seven enlisted soldiers from the unit. Spc. Jeremy C. Sivits pleaded guilty, was sentenced to a year in prison and is cooperating with prosecutors. Pfc. Lynndie R. England faces charges at Fort Bragg, N.C., and the remaining five are awaiting hearings in Germany and Iraq.

The report by Army intelligence is the latest to be completed in the Abu Ghraib scandal. Another report expected soon is being conducted by a four-member panel headed by former Defense Secretary James R. Schlesinger, which sources say will be critical of the current defense chief, Donald H. Rumsfeld, and other top Pentagon officials.

Assigning blame

Three weeks ago, Lt. Gen. Paul Mikolashek, the Army's inspector general, briefed Congress on his review of detainee operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Mikolashek told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he is convinced that a small number of soldiers and low-level officers were responsible for the abuses at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. He made 52 recommendations for changes in detainee and interrogation operations.

Mikolashek said he did not look above the brigade level for lapses such as "poor command climate" that might have contributed to the abuses.

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