(Reuters) - Top Pentagon officials and the
military command in Iraq contributed to an
environment in which prisoners were abused
at Abu Ghraib prison, according to a report
released on Tuesday by high-level panel investigating
the military detentions.
outside 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
failures were compounded by poor advice provided
by staff officers with responsibility for
overseeing battlefield functions related to
detention and interrogation operations," the
report said. "Military and civilian leaders
at the Pentagon share this burden of responsibility."
panel did not find that Rumsfeld or military
leaders directly ordered abuse such as stripping
prisoners naked and sexually humiliating them.
It said, however, that the abuses were not
carried out by just a few individuals, as
the Bush administration has consistently maintained.
said there were 300 cases of abuses being
investigated, many beyond Abu Ghraib. "So
the abuses were not limited to a few individuals."
He said there was "sadism" by some Americans
at Abu Ghraib.
was a kind of animal house on the night shift"
at the jail, he added.
report said prisoner interrogation policies
in Iraq were inadequate and deficient, and
changes made by Rumsfeld between December
2002 and April 2003 in what interrogation
techniques were permitted contributed to uncertainties
in the field as to what actions were allowed
and what were forbidden.
report said an expanded list of more coercive
techniques that Rumsfeld allowed for Guantanamo
"migrated to Afghanistan and Iraq, where they
were neither limited nor safeguarded."
Schlesinger panel, named by Rumsfeld in May
to look into the abuse and how effectively
the Pentagon addressed it, 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.
an earlier investigation headed by Army Maj.
Gen. Antonio Taguba, the Schlesinger panel
said the "weak and ineffectual leadership"
of Army Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, commander
of the 800th Military Police Brigade at Abu
Ghraib, "allowed the abuses at Abu Ghraib."
a statement released by the Pentagon, Rumsfeld
said the panel provided "important information
and recommendations that will be of assistance
in our ongoing efforts to improve detention
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 Schlesinger panel, too, faulted
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.
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.
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.
are illegal, unauthorized, mischievous, sadistic
activities happening outside the purview of
interrogations," the Army official said.
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.
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."
Mannheim, Germany, a U.S. military judge ruled
that Rumsfeld could not be forced to testify
in the court martial of a sergeant charged
in the abuse.