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11 May 2004

Congressional Report, May 11: Army Investigator Testifies

U.S. Senate committee continues Iraqi prisoner abuse hearings

The chief U.S. Army investigator examining alleged abuses of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. military personnel at the Abu Ghraib military prison in Baghdad told a Senate committee May 11 that the acts of a few have jeopardized the integrity of coalition forces and the reputation of the United States.

"A few soldiers and civilians conspired to abuse and conduct egregious acts of violence against detainees and other civilians outside the bounds of international law and the Geneva Convention[s]. Their incomprehensible acts, caught in their own personal record of photographs and video clips, have seriously maligned and impugned the courageous acts of thousands of U.S. and coalition forces," said Major General Antonio Taguba, who conducted the first formal inquiry into the alleged prisoner abuses.

"It put into question the reputation of our nation and the reputation of those who continue to serve in uniform, and who would willingly sacrifice their lives to safeguard our freedom," he said.

Taguba, who is the deputy commanding general for support for the U.S. Central Command and Combined Forces Land Component Command based at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, testified at length about his Article 15-6 investigation (a fact-finding mission undertaken on behalf of command authority) into the alleged abuses at Abu Ghraib before the Senate Armed Services Committee. The Senate committee began its inquiry into the alleged abuses May 7 when it heard testimony from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Air Force General Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other senior Pentagon officials.

The investigation conducted by Taguba was ordered by General John Abizaid, the commander of the U.S. Central Command, which has authority for all military operations in Iraq. The investigation was designed to bring to light the allegations first reported to the Army's Criminal Investigation Division (CID) by a U.S. soldier assigned to Abu Ghraib. The report has not been made public because it is an internal legal document that has become the basis for charges being brought against seven U.S. soldiers involved in the alleged abuse case.

Taguba testified that he had four objectives in his investigation:

-- Inquire into the facts and circumstances surrounding recent allegations of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib;

-- Inquire into detainee escapes and accountability lapses, specifically allegations concerning these events at the Abu Ghraib prison;

-- Investigate the training, the standards, employment, command policies, internal procedures, and command climate in the 800th Military Police Brigade, which had been assigned responsibility for operating the Abu Ghraib prison; and

-- Make specific findings of fact concerning all aspects of this investigation and recommend corrective action as appropriate.