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Excerpts From the Schlesinger Report

Wednesday, August 25, 2004; Page A13

Excerpts of the report of the Independent Panel to Review DoD Detention Operations:

The events of October through December 2003 on the night shift of Tier 1 at Abu Ghraib prison were acts of brutality and purposeless sadism. We now know these abuses occurred at the hands of both military police and military intelligence personnel. The pictured abuses, unacceptable even in wartime, were not part of authorized interrogations nor were they even directed at intelligence targets. They represent deviant behavior and a failure of military leadership and discipline. However, we do know that some of the egregious abuses at Abu Ghraib which were not photographed did occur during interrogation sessions and that abuses during interrogation sessions occurred elsewhere.

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In light of what happened at Abu Ghraib, a series of comprehensive investigations has been conducted by various components of the Department of Defense. Since the beginning of hostilities in Afghanistan and Iraq, U.S. military and security operations have apprehended about 50,000 individuals. From this number, about 300 allegations of abuse in Afghanistan, Iraq or Guantanamo have arisen. As of mid-August 2004, 155 investigations into the allegations have been completed, resulting in 66 substantiated cases. Approximately one-third of these cases occurred at the point of capture or tactical collection point, frequently under uncertain, dangerous and violent circumstances.

Abuses of varying severity occurred at differing locations under differing circumstances and context. They were widespread and, though inflicted on only a small percentage of those detained, they were serious both in number and in effect. No approved procedures called for or allowed the kinds of abuse that in fact occurred. There is no evidence of a policy of abuse promulgated by senior officials or military authorities. Still, the abuses were not just the failure of some individuals to follow known standards, and they are more than the failure of a few leaders to enforce proper discipline. There is both institutional and personal responsibility at higher levels. . . .

Interrogators and lists of techniques circulated from Guantanamo and Afghanistan to Iraq. During July and August 2003, the 519th Military Intelligence Company was sent to the Abu Ghraib detention facility to conduct interrogation operations. Absent any explicit policy or guidance, other than [Field Manual] 34-52, the officer in charge prepared draft interrogation guidelines. . . . It is important to note that techniques effective under carefully controlled conditions at Guantanamo became far more problematic when they migrated and were not adequately safeguarded.

In August 2003, [Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D.] Miller arrived to conduct an assessment of DoD counterterrorism interrogation and detention operations in Iraq. . . .

From his experience in Guantanamo, MG Miller called for the military police and military intelligence soldiers to work cooperatively, with the military police "setting the conditions" for interrogations. This MP role included passive collection on detainees as well as supporting incentives recommended by the military interrogators. These collaborative procedures worked effectively in Guantanamo, particularly in light of the high ratio of approximately 1 to 1 of military police to mostly compliant detainees. However, in Iraq and particularly in Abu Ghraib the ratio of military police to repeatedly unruly detainees was significantly smaller, at one point 1 to about 75 at Abu Ghraib, making it difficult even to keep track of prisoners. Moreover, because Abu Ghraib was located in a combat zone, the military police were engaged in force protection of the complex as well as escorting convoys of supplies to and from the prison. Compounding these problems was the inadequacy of leadership, oversight and support needed in the face of such difficulties. . . .

In Iraq, there was not only a failure to plan for a major insurgency, but also to quickly and adequately adapt to the insurgency that followed after major combat operations. The October 2002 CENTCOM War Plan presupposed that relatively benign stability and security operations would precede a handover to Iraq's authorities. The contingencies contemplated in that plan included sabotage of oil production facilities and large numbers of refugees generated by communal strife.

Major combat operations were accomplished more swiftly than anticipated. Then began a period of occupation and an active and growing insurgency. Although the removal of Saddam Hussein was initially welcomed by the bulk of the population, the occupation became increasingly resented. Detention facilities soon held Iraqi and foreign terrorists as well as a mix of Enemy Prisoners of War, other security detainees, criminals and undoubtedly some accused as a result of factional rivalries. Of the 17 detention facilities in Iraq, the largest, Abu Ghraib, housed up to 7,000 detainees in October 2003, with a guard force of only about 90 personnel from the 800th Military Police Brigade. Abu Ghraib was seriously overcrowded, under-resourced, and under continual attack. Five U.S. soldiers died as a result of mortar attacks on Abu Ghraib. In July 2003, Abu Ghraib was mortared 25 times; on August 16, 2003, five detainees were killed and 67 wounded in a mortar attack. A mortar attack on April 20, 2004, killed 22 detainees. . . .

The aberrant behavior on the night shift in Cell Block 1 at Abu Ghraib would have been avoided with proper training, leadership and oversight. Though acts of abuse occurred at a number of locations, those in Cell Block 1 have a unique nature fostered by the predilections of the noncommissioned officers in charge. Had these noncommissioned officers behaved more like those on the day shift, these acts, which one participant described as "just for the fun of it," would not have taken place.

Concerning the abuses at Abu Ghraib, the impact was magnified by the fact the shocking photographs were aired throughout the world in April 2004. Although CENTCOM had publicly addressed the abuses in a press release in January 2004, the photographs remained within the official criminal investigative process. Consequently, the highest levels of command and leadership in the Department of Defense were not adequately informed nor prepared to respond to the Congress and the American public when copies were released by the press. . . .

Interrogation policies with respect to Iraq, where the majority of the abuses occurred, were inadequate or deficient in some respects at three levels: Department of Defense, CENTCOM/CJTF-7, and Abu Ghraib Prison. Policies to guide the demands for actionable intelligence lagged behind battlefield needs. As already noted, the changes in DoD interrogation policies between December 2, 2002 and April 16, 2003 were an element contributing to uncertainties in the field as to which techniques were authorized. Although specifically limited by the Secretary of Defense to Guantanamo, and requiring his personal approval (given in only two cases), the augmented [interrogation] techniques for Guantanamo migrated to Afghanistan and Iraq where they were neither limited nor safeguarded. . . .

At the tactical level we concur with the Jones/Fay investigation's conclusion that military intelligence personnel share responsibility for the abuses at Abu Ghraib with the military police soldiers cited in the [Maj. Gen. Antonio M.] Taguba investigation. The Jones/Fay investigation found 44 alleged instances of abuse, some of which were also considered by the Taguba report. A number of these cases involved MI personnel directing the actions of MP personnel. Yet it should be noted that of the 66 closed cases of detainee abuse in Guantanamo, Afghanistan and Iraq cited by the Naval Inspector General, only one-third were interrogation related. . . .

We believe [Lt. Gen. Ricardo S.] Sanchez should have taken stronger action in November when he realized the extent of the leadership problems at Abu Ghraib. . . . Although LTG Sanchez had more urgent tasks than dealing personally with command and resource deficiencies at Abu Ghraib, [Maj. Gen. Walter] Wojdakowski and the staff should have seen that urgent demands were placed to higher headquarters for additional assets. We concur with the Jones findings that LTG Sanchez and MG Wojdakowski failed to ensure proper staff oversight of detention and interrogation operations. . . .

Once it became clear in the summer of 2003 that there was a major insurgency growing in Iraq, with the potential for capturing a large number of enemy combatants, senior leaders should have moved to meet the need for additional military police forces. Certainly by October and November when the fighting reached a new peak, commanders and staff from CJTF-7 all the way to CENTCOM to the Joint Chiefs of Staff should have known about and reacted to the serious limitations of the battalion of the 800th Military Police Brigade at Abu Ghraib. CENTCOM . . . should have at least considered adding forces to the detention/interrogation operation mission. It is the judgment of this panel that in the future, considering the sensitivity of this kind of mission, the [office of the secretary of defense] should assure itself that serious limitations in detention/interrogation missions do not occur.

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