WASHINGTON - Four dozen U.S. soldiers and civilian contractors have been implicated in the widening Abu Ghraib abuse scandal and Army investigators believe they should be prosecuted, according to a long-awaited report released Wednesday.
Moreover, five officers who either knew of the abuse or should have detected the mistreatment should be disciplined, the report concluded.
The Fay-Jones report, which is named after two Army generals who conducted the investigation, is the latest in a series of internal Pentagon probes that were launched after disturbing digital photographs documenting abuse at the notorious Iraqi prison came to light eight months ago.
The report revealed that the incidents of abuse - 44 in all - far exceeded the amount of mistreatment shown in the photographs and included 24 serious incidents of physical and sexual abuse.
"We discovered serious misconduct and a loss of moral values," said Gen. Paul Kern, a senior Army leader who was appointed to oversee the investigation.
"There were a few instances when torture was used," said Maj. Gen. George Fay, who led the inquiry into whether soldiers from the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade had played a role in the abuses.
According to the 177-page report, 23 military intelligence soldiers assigned to the prison were involved in the abuse, along with four civilian contractors and 10 military police officers. Six military intelligence soldiers knew about the abuse but didn't report it. A military police officer, two medics and two contractors also looked the other way.
The report recommends disciplinary action against five officers: Col. Thomas Pappas, the commander of the 205th Brigade; Lt. Col. Stephen Jordan, the director of the Joint Interrogation Debriefing Center; Maj. David Price, the center's operations officer; Maj. Michael Thompson, the center's deputy operations officer; and Capt. Carolyn Wood, the officer in charge of interrogations.
Knight Ridder reported on Aug. 20 that Wood, the recipient of two Bronze Stars for her duties in Iraq and Afghanistan, had been in charge of interrogations when two prisoners died in custody at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. Two of the soldiers implicated in those deaths went on to commit abuses at Abu Ghraib, Knight Ridder reported.
Army investigators concluded Wednesday that Wood "should have been aware of the potential for detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib."
The report singles out Pappas and Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who commanded the 800th Military Police Brigade, for harsh criticism.
"These leaders failed to execute their responsibilities," the report states. "These leaders failed to properly discipline their soldiers. These leaders failed to learn from prior mistakes."
The lower-ranking soldiers and contractors weren't named because of Defense Department policy, but Kern said the report's findings would be forwarded to each soldier's commander for action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The Department of Justice will determine whether to press charges against the civilian contractors.
Lt. Gen. Anthony Jones, who was asked to investigate the culpability of higher-ranking officers, said he found Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and his deputy, Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski, responsible for failing "to ensure proper staff oversight of detention and interrogation procedures."
But Jones and the other generals said the top commanders "performed above expectations," given the overall challenge of dealing with a violent insurgency and a lack of resources.
"We did not find General Sanchez culpable, but we did find him responsible," Kern said.
That conclusion echoed the findings of a report issued Tuesday by an independent panel commissioned by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The panel found that that "indirect" responsibility extended up the chain of command to Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for failing to provide sufficient resources and clear guidance to troops in Iraq.
Scott Silliman, a professor at Duke University and an authority on the laws of war, praised the report as "very accurate and detailed." He noted that the Pentagon had originally argued that abuses at Abu Ghraib had been committed by a handful of miscreants. "We now know that is not the case."
The results of at least three major reports are still pending: a second investigation by the Navy inspector general into interrogation techniques, an investigation into the operation of special forces in Iraq and a review of training of U.S. Army Reserves forces.
Among the 25 findings in the Fay-Jones report was the conclusion that "interrogator training in the Laws of Land Warfare and the Geneva Conventions is ineffective."
The report detailed numerous violations of the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit the use of violence and "outrages upon the personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment."
Physical abuses uncovered by investigators included "slapping, kicking, twisting the hands of detainee who was hand-cuffed to cause pain ... placing gloved hand over nose and mouth of an internee to restrict breathing, `poking' at an internee's injured leg, and forcing an internee to stand while handcuffed in such a way as to dislocate his shoulder."
The report stated that nakedness was a "seemingly common practice," and that it was used as an interrogation technique. "The use of clothing as an incentive (nudity) is significant in that it likely contributed to an escalating `dehumanization' of the detainees and set the stage for additional and more severe abuses to occur."
Kern said one of the most "horrific" abuses occurred when military police officers used dogs to frighten two juvenile detainees. Kern said the soldiers also played a game using the dogs to try to prompt detainees to have bowel movements or wet their pants.
Altogether, there were 10 incidents of abuse involving dogs.
In several incidents, there appeared to be collusion between military police officers and interrogators. Investigators said it was possible there was an agreement with Staff Sgt. Ivan Frederick, one of seven military police officers charged with abuse, and an interrogator "to soften up uncooperative detainees."
Investigators said they counted at least eight "ghost detainees" who were hidden from the International Committee of the Red Cross - another violation of the Geneva Conventions.
The practice of not registering detainees in the prison database apparently was done at the request of the Central Intelligence Agency, which is referred to as the "other government agency."
"It is clear that the interrogation practices of other government agencies led to a loss of accountability at Abu Ghraib," the report states.
Were there more detainees? Kern asked. "We don't know."
"We found that without records, it's difficult to document."
The report calls for an additional investigation into "ghost detainees" by the Defense Department's inspector general.
© 2004 Knight Ridder