An internal Army investigation has implicated 35 military intelligence personnel and civilian contractors in at least 44 instances of abuse of Iraqi prisoners, a far greater number of personnel than were shown in the searing photos of abuse that have become public so far, government officials said yesterday.
The report by Maj. Gen. George R. Fay and Lt. Gen. Anthony R. Jones, to be released today, states that of this group, 27 committed apparent chargeable offenses, while eight others did not report abuse they knew about or witnessed.
The investigation also implicates 13 military police in the incidents of abuse, noting that seven of the police committed the abuse -- sometimes at the direction of intelligence personnel -- and six others did not report the abuse, including two U.S. military doctors in Iraq, the officials said.
In addition, U.S. military intelligence officials conspired to hide at least eight Iraqis detained by U.S. forces from delegations of the International Committee of the Red Cross, amounting to one of the clearest violations of the Geneva Conventions uncovered so far by investigations of detainee abuse, the officials said.
The report states that the number of "ghost detainees" kept hidden from the ICRC was probably more than eight, a practice it said clearly violated Defense Department rules. It called for further investigation of the circumstances by the Defense Department inspector general's office , the officials said.
International law grants all detainees held by an occupying power the right to confer with visiting officials of the Red Cross, but Defense Department officials have acknowledged deliberately hiding some detainees during the visits, to keep them in sustained isolation as a means of breaking their resistance to interrogation and to keep their capture secret.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has told reporters that one detainee was kept hidden on his instructions, following a request by the CIA. Staff Sgt. Christopher Ward, a member of the 372nd Military Police Company deployed at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, testified this week at a military trial in North Carolina that he was ordered to hide prisoners during at least three ICRC visits last fall and winter.
The Fay-Jones report -- like the independent panel's report released yesterday -- singles out the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, and his deputy, Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski, for not ensuring that their senior staff adequately monitored detention operations, the officials said. But it also concludes that military intelligence officials shared "a major part of the culpability" for the abuse, according to a passage quoted by the independent panel.
Only a handful of these officials -- one source described the number as five -- have been shown in the photos of detainee abuse that have been circulated in public.