Leaders faulted in abuse of prisoners

Military intelligence, contractors directly involved

5 officers could face discipline

Report does not vindicate accused soldiers of 372nd

Army Report On Prisoner Abuses At Abu Ghraib

August 26, 2004|By Gail Gibson | Gail Gibson,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON - More than two dozen U.S. military intelligence soldiers and civilian contractors participated in detainee abuses at Abu Ghraib, according to a Pentagon report released yesterday that portrays the Iraq prison scandal as reaching well beyond the isolated pranks of a few low-ranking Army reservists.

The new report casts some of the abuses, such as interrogating detainees naked or threatening them with barking dogs, as mistakes stemming from confusing policies to extract information useful in combating a growing insurgency. But it said some intelligence personnel supported or participated in physical abuses that ranged "from inhumane to sadistic."

"There are a few instances where torture was being used," said Maj. Gen. George R. Fay, who conducted the report with Lt. Gen. Anthony R. Jones and Gen. Paul J. Kern.

FOR THE RECORD - The image that accompanied the "Key conclusions" information graphic with the Abu Ghraib article on yesterday's front page was not the cover of the Army report on prisoner abuses issued by Maj. Gen. George R. Fay. It was the cover of a document issued yesterday by the Detention Operations Review Panel at the Pentagon. The Sun regrets the error.

A detainee beaten by a military police guard with a chair until it broke and choked until he lost consciousness, had been recommended for a "fear up" approach by an interrogator who had a personal relationship with some of the guards and likely knew of the abuse, the report said. In another instance, a guard who tried to stop two military intelligence personnel from kicking and shoving a detainee was told: "We are the professionals; we know what we are doing."

The report said 23 military intelligence personnel and four civilian contractors were directly involved in the abuse of detainees and should face criminal investigations, while eight others failed to report abuses they witnessed.

It also singled out five intelligence supervisors who could face further disciplinary action - including Col. Thomas M. Pappas, who commanded the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade at Abu Ghraib, and his top deputy, Lt. Col. Steven Jordan. Military prosecutors indicated this week for the first time that criminal charges could be filed against the two officers.

Looking beyond the role of military intelligence, the report also was sharply critical of the Central Intelligence Agency. CIA operatives who conducted interrogations at Abu Ghraib convinced Pappas and Jordan "that they should be allowed to operate outside the established local rules and procedures" - using more aggressive tactics and failing to properly record a number of so-called "ghost detainees" at the prison, including one who died after being left bleeding in a cellblock shower.

"There are failures of leadership, of people seeing things and not correcting them," said Kern. "There were failures of discipline - both hallmarks of what we believe are the values and the creed by which we live in the military. That is very troubling."

The report came a day after an independent review panel appointed by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and chaired by former Defense Secretary James R. Schlesinger concluded that leadership failures reaching to the highest offices of the Pentagon were partly to blame in the scandal.

Responding to both reports, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the Democratic presidential nominee, said in a statement yesterday that Rumsfeld should resign.

"What is missing from all these reports is accountability from the senior civilian leaders in the Pentagon and in the White House," Kerry said. "By failing to take corrective actions once all of this became apparent, Secretary Rumsfeld did not demonstrate the leadership required from a secretary of defense."

Speaking to reporters in Crawford, Texas, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Kerry was interested only "in saying what is the most politically beneficial thing to his campaign."

"What occurred there was appalling and it was wrong," McClellan said. "We also repeatedly said it is important to take a broader look at detainee issues to look at what improvements might be needed to prevent something like what occurred at Abu Ghraib from ever happening again."

Sen. John W. Warner, the Virginia Republican who heads the Armed Services Committee, said Rumsfeld should stay, but added: "He was a naval officer, and he understands the concept of the command. The commanding officer ultimately has to take responsibility for those actions in his subordinates that are proven to be unprofessional or downright wrong."

Intelligence role

What role military intelligence personnel played in the abuse scandal has been a central question since the now widely published photographs surfaced four months ago showing Iraqi prisoners stripped naked and forced into sexually humiliating positions or cornered by snarling military dogs.

So far, criminal charges in the scandal have been limited to seven low-ranking members of the 372nd Military Police Company, an Army reserve unit from Western Maryland whose soldiers served as guards at Abu Ghraib last fall.

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