An Army investigation into the Abu Ghraib prison scandal has found that military police dogs were used to frighten detained Iraqi teenagers as part of a sadistic game, one of many details in the forthcoming report that were provoking expressions of concern and disgust among Army officers briefed on the findings.
Earlier reports and photographs from the prison have indicated that unmuzzled military police dogs were used to intimidate detainees at Abu Ghraib, something the dog handlers have told investigators was sanctioned by top military intelligence officers there. But the new report, according to Pentagon sources, will show that MPs were using their animals to make juveniles -- as young as 15 years old -- urinate on themselves as part of a competition.
"There were two MP dog handlers who did use dogs to threaten kids detained at Abu Ghraib," said an Army officer familiar with the report, one of two investigations on detainee abuse scheduled for release this week. "It has nothing to do with interrogation. It was just them on their own being weird."
Speaking on the condition of anonymity because the report has not been released, other officials at the Pentagon said the investigation also acknowledges that military intelligence soldiers kept multiple detainees off the record books and hid them from international humanitarian organizations. The report also mentions substantiated claims that at least one male detainee was sodomized by one of his captors at Abu Ghraib, sources said.
"The report will show that these actions were bad, illegal, unauthorized, and some of it was sadistic," said one Defense Department official. "But it will show that they were the actions of a few, actions that went unnoticed because of leadership failures."
The investigative report by Maj. Gen. George R. Fay focuses on the role of military intelligence soldiers in the prison abuse. It will expand the circle of soldiers considered responsible for abuse beyond the seven military police soldiers already facing charges, officials said, to include more than a dozen others -- low-ranking soldiers, civilian contractors and medics. Sources have said that the report also criticizes military leadership, from the prison and up through the highest levels of the U.S. chain of command in Iraq at the time.
One Pentagon official said yesterday that Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, then the top U.S. commander in Iraq, is named in the report for leadership deficiencies and failing to deal with rising problems at the prison as he tried to manage 150,000 troops countering an unexpected insurgency. Sanchez, however, will not be recommended for any punitive action or even a letter of reprimand, the source said. About 300 pages of the 9,000-page report will be released publicly, according to Army officials.
Another report regarding the prison abuse, commissioned by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, is expected to be released this afternoon. That independent commission, chaired by James R. Schlesinger, a former defense secretary, will be critical of the guidance and policies set by top Pentagon and military officials as they worked to get more useful intelligence from detainees in Iraq, said a source familiar with the commission's work.
The Schlesinger report is not expected to implicate high-level officials by name, but it would be the first report to link the abuse at Abu Ghraib to policies set by top officials in Washington. The Fay report, by contrast, does not point a finger at the Pentagon and instead assigns most of the blame to military intelligence and military police who worked on the chaotic grounds of the overcrowded and austere Abu Ghraib.
Rumsfeld had not been briefed on the commission's findings as of yesterday, a Defense Department source said, and the commission likewise has not briefed members of Congress, who have been anticipating the reports for months. Initially, the Schlesinger commission was slated to take 45 days, and Rumsfeld suggested that it consider limiting itself to reviewing the work of other investigations. But the commission hired a staff of more than 20 people and conducted dozens of interviews, taking more than two months to complete its work.
The reports are part of several investigations into U.S. detainee operations around the world, and so far they have expanded the scope of culpability beyond the seven MPs charged in connection with the most notorious incidents of abuse, such as stacking naked detainees in a pyramid, posing them in mock sexual positions and beating them. Pentagon officials said yesterday that the abuse came not as the result of direct orders but rather as "off-the-clock mischief" that arose from vague instructions and a general lack of oversight.
The core conclusion of the Fay report, said one general who is familiar with it, is that there was a leadership failure in the Army in Iraq that extended well beyond a handful of MPs. "There's a vacuum there," he said. "Either people knew it and turned a blind eye, or they weren't paying attention."
In particular, top leaders failed to give proper attention to reports from the International Committee of the Red Cross that decried conditions at Abu Ghraib, reported allegations of abuse and raised warning flags about detainees being hidden from them. Top Pentagon officials have denied keeping detainees from the ICRC, but the Fay report will concur with an earlier Army investigation that cited the prison for keeping "ghost detainees."
"This report will address the ghost-detainee problem, and it was an outright policy violation," said one Pentagon official familiar with the report. "It did happen, and accordingly it is still being investigated."
Another officer at the Pentagon said he felt that the latest revelations, including the use of dogs to frighten juveniles, were some of the most worrisome of the scandal. He said one particular worry at the Pentagon is how the use of dogs against Arab juveniles will be viewed in the Middle East.
"People know that in war, you know, you have to break eggs," he said. "But this crosses the line."
Staff writer Bradley Graham contributed to this report.