Skip to comments.Rumsfeld, Military Leaders Faulted in Prison Abuse
Posted on 08/24/2004 10:18:34 AM PDT by TexKat
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Top Pentagonofficials and the military command in Iraq contributed to an environment in which prisoners were abused at Abu Ghraib prison, a high-level panel investigating the military detentions has concluded, a defense official said on Tuesday.
The independent four-member panel headed by former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger found that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the Joint Chiefs of Staff failed to exercise proper oversight over confusing detention policies at U.S. prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, according to the defense official.
The official, who asked not to be identified, said the panel, due to release its report later on Tuesday, did not find that Rumsfeld or military leaders directly ordered abuse such as stripping prisoners naked and sexually humiliating them.
In addition, a separate Army investigation headed by Maj. Gen. George Fay faulted Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, at the time the top U.S. commander in Iraq, for leadership failures for not addressing troubles at Abu Ghraib, a senior Army official said.
The Fay report, to be released on Wednesday, found Sanchez and his staff were preoccupied with combating an escalating insurgency and did not focus on the festering problems at Abu Ghraib, the Army official said.
The report also found that Army military intelligence soldiers kept a number of prisoners, dubbed "ghost detainees," off the books and hidden from the International Committee of the Red Cross, the official added. It also found a small number of military police used dogs to menace teen-age Abu Ghraib detainees.
Seven Army reservists from the 372nd Military Police Company already have been charged with abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib.
The Fay report implicates about two dozen more low-ranking soldiers, medics and civilian contractors in the Abu Ghraib abuse, and about half of them will be recommended for criminal proceedings, the Army official said.
"These are illegal, unauthorized, mischievous, sadistic activities happening outside the purview of interrogations," the Army official said.
But the Fay report maintains that the abuse was perpetrated by a few soldiers, but went unchecked as a result of military leadership deficiencies, the Army official said.
Photographs of smiling U.S. soldiers tormenting naked Iraqi detainees drew international condemnation when they surfaced in April, prompting charges from rights groups that policies adopted in President Bush's war on terrorism had encouraged the cruelty.
The Schlesinger panel, named by Rumsfeld in May to look into the abuse and how effectively the Pentagon addressed the problem, also includes former Defense Secretary Harold Brown, former Florida Republican Rep. Tillie Fowler and retired Air Force Gen. Charles Horner, who led the allied air campaign in the 1991 Gulf War.
The defense official confirmed a report in the New York Times on the Schlesinger panel's findings that also said it concluded the military's Joint Staff at the Pentagon, responsible for allocating forces, did not recognize that Abu Ghraib guards were overwhelmed by an influx of detainees during violence in Iraq.
Staff Sgt. Ivan Frederick, the highest-ranking of the seven charged, reached a deal with Army prosecutors after agreeing to plead guilty to some of the charges at a pretrial hearing in Mannheim, Germany, his lawyer said on Tuesday.
In Mannheim, a U.S. military judge also ruled that Rumsfeld could not be forced to testify in the court martial of another sergeant charged in the abuse.
Reed Brody, a spokesman for Human Rights Watch, said the Schlesinger report did not go far enough. "They are talking about management failures when they should be talking about who in the Pentagon and the military command ordered, approved or tolerated the torture of detainees."
"The report does not seem to examine the relationship between Secretary Rumsfeld's approval of interrogation techniques designed to inflict pain and humiliation and the widespread abuse of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo," Brody said.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters in Crawford, Texas, "Remember, we said early on that it's important that those who were responsible for the appalling acts at Abu Ghraib are held accountable. And it's also important to take a broad look and make sure that there are no systemic problems."
An independent Pentagon panel found that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the Joint Chiefs of Staff failed to exercise proper oversight over confusing detention policies at U.S. prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Cuba, a defense official said August 23, 2004. But the official, who asked not to be identified, stressed that the panel did not conclude that Rumsfeld or military leaders directly ordered abuse such as stripping prisoners naked and sexually humiliating them in a scandal that has drawn international condemnation. Rumsfeld (L) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers testify on Capitol Hill, Aug. 17. (Larry Downing/Reuters)
Nor did it address Rumsfeld's role in the sinking of the Lusitania. Shocking.
I was reading "Absolutely American" the other day, and I was struck by the reference in there to "stacking America's enemies like cordwood." Perhaps a few West Point grads took that a little too literally.
"The official, who asked not to be identified, said the panel, due to release its report later on Tuesday, did not find that Rumsfeld or military leaders directly ordered abuse such as stripping prisoners naked and sexually humiliating them. "
As we have seen repeatedly over the past three years, anonymous sources are almost always wrong.....which tells you why they want to be "anonymous".
Holding Rumsfeld "responsible" for Ms Englands warped behavior is ridiculous.
I'd have fired Sanchez if he'd said, "I know they're blowing our guys up in this growing insurgency, but let's focus our attention on this prison scandal that we're already investigating."
There WAS a general at the prison. She didn't do her job. She was supposed to have Sanchez's back. She blew it. Case closed.
"But the Fay report maintains that the abuse was perpetrated by a few soldiers, but went unchecked as a result of military leadership deficiencies, the Army official said. "
That is not Rumsfeld's fault. That is the fault of the General at the prison. It has already been shown that she admitted to not knowing what was going on under her own command. HOW WOULD THE PENTAGON KNOW THIS IS GOING ON IF NOBODY REPORTS IT TO THEM?
Thread on Press Conference being held by the panel on CNN and CSPAN.
-States that there was no policy for abuse.
(in fact, the policy stated that the geneva accord should be followed)
The abuse was not happening under orders for interogations.
It was the result of those on that night shift.
Says that Commanders on the ground sought did not seek advice on the matter from the Pentagon leadership.
Pentagon set a policy which included a no abuse directive...and commanders on the ground said they took it and the implemented it by there interpretation.
By Jon R. Anderson, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Tuesday, August 24, 2004
MANNHEIM, Germany An Army judge threatened to dismiss charges against one of the alleged ringleaders in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal unless the government speeds up several key investigations into the case.
The military judge, Col. James Pohl, told prosecutors he would seriously consider dropping charges against Spc. Charles A. Graner Jr., an Army reservist with the 322nd Military Police Company, unless significant progress was made in releasing four reports by Sept. 10.
Guy Womack, a retired Marine colonel who is representing Graner, said the investigations will help prove his client is being turned into a scapegoat for the Army.
Womack said that Graner and the other MPs charged in the case were simply following orders from senior Army brass and civilian contractors at Abu Ghraib.
Womack points to Lt. Col. Steve Jordan, who was responsible for overseeing the intelligence contractors, as the real culprit in the scandal.
Womack said Col. Thomas Pappas of the Darmstadt, Germany-205th Military Intelligence Brigade, another leader at the prison at the time, was likely involved as well.
This may go all the way to [V Corps commander Lt. Gen. Ricardo] Sanchez, but frankly I doubt it, Womack told Stars and Stripes.
Womack had been slated to depose Sanchez at his Heidelberg headquarters on Thursday and Friday, but at the last minute, he said, Sanchez canceled the interview without explanation.
I think hes just trying to avoid us, said Womack.
Womack had also hoped to interview Pappas under oath in Germany, but the intelligence officer exercised his constitutional right not to incriminate himself, said Womack.
V Corps officials in Germany were unable to comment on Sanchezs schedule or Pappas decision and referred questions to a Baghdad-based Army spokesman. He was unavailable for comment.
Graner, however, had no choice. He appeared before Pohl on Monday in preliminary hearings in Taylor Barracks in Mannheim. Pohl dismissed motions by Womack to suppress evidence found on the laptop of the 35-year-old military policeman.
The hearing was one of four slated Monday and Tuesday. Sgt. Javal S. Davis, Spc. Megan M. Ambuhl and Staff Sgt. Ivan L. Frederick also are scheduled to appear.
The next round of pretrial hearings in Graners case is slated for Oct. 21 in Baghdad. Those hearings will address whether top leaders in Iraq, including Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz, who replaced Sanchez as commander of warfighting units in Iraq, have improperly tried to influence the legal proceedings against Graner.
In the meantime, Pohl said, he wants to see progress on the four investigations.
One of those investigations, a report by Maj. Gen. George Fay into the abuse at the prison, was supposed to be released last month, said Army prosecutors.
The report is now with the commander of the Army Materiel Command, Gen. Paul Kern, said prosecutors, where it is being briefed to top Army leaders before its release.
Several news organizations in recent days already have reported its major findings.
The Army Criminal Investigation Command also is investigating several of its own agents for possible abuse, said prosecutors.
Included in that probe is a review of hundreds of thousands of documents passed on the classified computer server used by military officials at the prison complex.
Two more reports are also in the works, one by the Defense Department inspector general and another by former Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger for the Department of Defense.
Both are expected to be released in the lead-up to congressional hearings, now slated for Sept. 9.
Pohl also denied requests for a permanent change in venue for the trials.
Defense attorneys want to move the trials from Baghdad where theyre expected to begin next year to either Germany or the United States.
Pohl added, however, that the motion was premature and would be willing to reconsider the request as the actual trial approaches.
Womack argues that few if any of the two dozen reservists he hopes to call as witnesses will be willing to travel to Iraq for the trial.
And we cant compel them to come, he said.
. . .the panel, due to release its report later on Tuesday, did not find that Rumsfeld or military leaders directly ordered abuse such as stripping prisoners naked and sexually humiliating them. . .
I heard Schlesinger speaking on this today.
Bottom line: The situation was exactly as the administration had said and nothing like the media had portrayed.
What a shock (not).
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