Maj. Gen. George R. Fay, who is leading the Army's investigation into the role of military intelligence at Abu Ghraib prison and other detention facilities in Iraq, is an insurance company executive who has been on active duty for five years.

Fay, the Army's deputy chief of staff for intelligence, was still listed as a managing director of the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies in its 2003 annual report. He was selected March 31 to head the sensitive investigation into intelligence practices and procedures in Iraq, and began work on April 23, said Lawrence T. DiRita, the Defense Department assistant secretary for public affairs.

Pentagon officials, lawmakers and others are looking to Fay to help answer a central question in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal: whether the military intelligence soldiers responsible for interrogating detainees directed or encouraged military police officers to commit the abuse captured in photographs that have roiled the Arab world and damaged U.S. credibility. Fay's probe into military intelligence follows the widely reported Army investigation by Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba that focused primarily on the role of military police.

Two Pentagon officials and one public affairs officer in Iraq said yesterday they could not say who chose Fay to run the inquiry, but one Army official said the orders "were cut by" Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the commanding general in Iraq.

At Chubb, Fay was executive vice president for claims and operations worldwide when he was activated in 1999. Originally commissioned through the Reserve Officers Training Corp Program in 1970, he served four years on active duty as a counterintelligence officer.

Fay worked for Chubb but had a series of Army reserve posts, primarily in the New York area, from 1974 until 1999, when he was activated and assigned as deputy commanding general of the Army Intelligence and Security Command.

Once activated, as a colonel, he was quickly promoted, first to brigadier general in 2000 and last year to major general. In October, he became deputy chief of staff for intelligence at the Pentagon.

Fay has continued to make political contributions since he started active duty in 1999, some through the Chubb Corporation Political Action Committee (Chubbpac), according to public records. In 2000, he gave $500 to the campaign of Bob Franks, a New Jersey Republican running for the Senate; $1,000 to the New Jersey Republican State Committee; and $1,000 to Chubbpac. In 2001 he gave $2,500 to Chubbpac and in 2002 another $2,500, but made no similar donations in 2003, according to election records. In the years before he went on active duty, Fay gave smaller contributions to Chubbpac. In 1997, he contributed $1,500 to the New Jersey Republican Party. In 1990, he gave $1,000 to New Jersey Democrat Bill Bradley's Senate campaign.

Defense Department regulations permit political contributions by military personnel but it is unusual for them to go through a corporate political action committee.

Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said yesterday he was unaware of Fay's background as a reservist and his political contributions. "These are very hard facts and have to be considered," Warner said. He added that "we don't have reason to question whether he will do other than an honorable job."

Warner also said he expects Fay's review of the role of military intelligence to include policies and decisions made not just in Iraq but also at the Pentagon. Fay, Warner said, should look "into the intelligence chain of command, not only in Centcom [the military command covering Iraq], but also back here in Washington."

A Pentagon public affairs officer yesterday said Fay was "on the road and not taking any questions about his investigation."

Richard Kohn, professor of military history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said yesterday that Fay's limited experience as a reservist "does not inspire confidence in the investigation." He said the choice "is troubling. It raises the most basic question as to who chose him and why and what his tasking is."

At hearings before Warner's Senate committee on May 11, Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Stephen A. Cambone said that Fay had conducted interviews in Iraq and was going to Germany "to see people who have since rotated from Iraq to Germany. And then will come back here to meet others."

Cambone, in answer to a question, said he expected that Fay would include the military intelligence activities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in his inquiry. "If General Fay didn't realize that was the subject of his investigation, sir, he is now painfully aware of it," he said.

Cambone could be one of those interviewed by Fay since he told Warner's committee that in August 2003 he encouraged Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, then head of Guantanamo, to go to Iraq to determine how to get a better intelligence through interrogation of detainees. Among other things, Miller advised that military police help intelligence officers by setting conditions for interrogations.

It was after Miller's visit to Abu Ghraib and some of his suggestions were implemented that many of the questionable activities took place.