Two reports outlined dramatic abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and highlighted management failures up and down the chain of command that ultimately led to and exacerbated the abuse.
Neither of the investigations -- one by an independent panel, the other by three Army generals -- assigned direct blame for the abuse to top military commanders or civilian leaders in Washington, but both reports concluded that a lack of planning for postwar Iraq and fundamental breakdowns in leadership fostered the environment in which the abuse occurred.
The four-member independent panel -- headed by former defense secretary James R. Schlesinger -- faulted the Pentagon's top civilian and military leadership for failing to exercise adequate oversight and allowing conditions that led to the abuse of detainees in Iraq. It also found that actions by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld contributed to confusion over what techniques were permissible for interrogating prisoners in Iraq.
The panel concluded that the Joint Chiefs of Staff and senior commanders in the Persian Gulf region first underestimated the need for detention-facility personnel in devising a postwar plan for Iraq and then neglected to move fast enough to provide such troops once the demand became apparent last year.
The findings marked the first time an official investigation sought to pin a share of responsibility on the Pentagon's upper reaches for a prison abuse scandal that has undercut U.S. operations in Iraq and eroded U.S. moral standing around the world.
The generals said that the sometimes-shocking detainee abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison came in part at the hands of more than two dozen military intelligence soldiers and civilian contractors.
The generals acknowledged that chaos and confusion absorbed Abu Ghraib. Interrogators did not know the rules and thus flagrantly broke them. Detainees were questioned while naked, the CIA hid prisoners from international human rights groups, and detainees were left hooded and handcuffed in painful positions.
-- Bradley Graham and Josh White