Iraqi Teens Abused at Abu Ghraib, Report Finds
Officials Say Inquiry Also Confirms Prisoners Were Hidden From Aid
By Josh White and Thomas E. Ricks
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, August 24, 2004; Page A01
An Army investigation into the Abu Ghraib prison scandal has found that
military police dogs were used to frighten detained Iraqi teenagers as
part of a sadistic game, one of many details in the forthcoming report
that were provoking expressions of concern and disgust among Army
officers briefed on the findings.
Earlier reports and photographs from the prison have indicated that
unmuzzled military police dogs were used to intimidate detainees at Abu
Ghraib, something the dog handlers have told investigators was
sanctioned by top military intelligence officers there. But the new
report, according to Pentagon sources, will show that MPs were using
their animals to make juveniles -- as young as 15 years old -- urinate
on themselves as part of a competition.
"There were two MP dog handlers who did use dogs to threaten kids
detained at Abu Ghraib," said an Army officer familiar with the report,
one of two investigations on detainee abuse scheduled for release this
week. "It has nothing to do with interrogation. It was just them on
their own being weird."
Speaking on the condition of anonymity because the report has not been
released, other officials at the Pentagon said the investigation also
acknowledges that military intelligence soldiers kept multiple detainees
off the record books and hid them from international humanitarian
organizations. The report also mentions substantiated claims that at
least one male detainee was sodomized by one of his captors at Abu
Ghraib, sources said.
"The report will show that these actions were bad, illegal,
unauthorized, and some of it was sadistic," said one Defense Department
official. "But it will show that they were the actions of a few, actions
that went unnoticed because of leadership failures."
The investigative report by Maj. Gen. George R. Fay focuses on the role
of military intelligence soldiers in the prison abuse. It will expand
the circle of soldiers considered responsible for abuse beyond the seven
military police soldiers already facing charges, officials said, to
include more than a dozen others -- low-ranking soldiers, civilian
contractors and medics. Sources have said that the report also
criticizes military leadership, from the prison and up through the
highest levels of the U.S. chain of command in Iraq at the time.
One Pentagon official said yesterday that Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez,
then the top U.S. commander in Iraq, is named in the report for
leadership deficiencies and failing to deal with rising problems at the
prison as he tried to manage 150,000 troops countering an unexpected
insurgency. Sanchez, however, will not be recommended for any punitive
action or even a letter of reprimand, the source said. About 300 pages
of the 9,000-page report will be released publicly, according to Army
Another report regarding the prison abuse, commissioned by Defense
Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, is expected to be released this afternoon.
That independent commission, chaired by James R. Schlesinger, a former
defense secretary, will be critical of the guidance and policies set by
top Pentagon and military officials as they worked to get more useful
intelligence from detainees in Iraq, said a source familiar with the
The Schlesinger report is not expected to implicate high-level officials
by name, but it would be the first report to link the abuse at Abu
Ghraib to policies set by top officials in Washington. The Fay report,
by contrast, does not point a finger at the Pentagon and instead assigns
most of the blame to military intelligence and military police who
worked on the chaotic grounds of the overcrowded and austere Abu Ghraib.
Rumsfeld had not been briefed on the commission's findings as of
yesterday, a Defense Department source said, and the commission likewise
has not briefed members of Congress, who have been anticipating the
reports for months. Initially, the Schlesinger commission was slated to
take 45 days, and Rumsfeld suggested that it consider limiting itself to
reviewing the work of other investigations. But the commission hired a
staff of more than 20 people and conducted dozens of interviews, taking
more than two months to complete its work.
The reports are part of several investigations into U.S. detainee
operations around the world, and so far they have expanded the scope of
culpability beyond the seven MPs charged in connection with the most
notorious incidents of abuse, such as stacking naked detainees in a
pyramid, posing them in mock sexual positions and beating them. Pentagon
officials said yesterday that the abuse came not as the result of direct
orders but rather as "off-the-clock mischief" that arose from vague
instructions and a general lack of oversight.
The core conclusion of the Fay report, said one general who is familiar
with it, is that there was a leadership failure in the Army in Iraq that
extended well beyond a handful of MPs. "There's a vacuum there," he
said. "Either people knew it and turned a blind eye, or they weren't
In particular, top leaders failed to give proper attention to reports
from the International Committee of the Red Cross that decried
conditions at Abu Ghraib, reported allegations of abuse and raised
warning flags about detainees being hidden from them. Top Pentagon
officials have denied keeping detainees from the ICRC, but the Fay
report will concur with an earlier Army investigation that cited the
prison for keeping "ghost detainees."
"This report will address the ghost-detainee problem, and it was an
outright policy violation," said one Pentagon official familiar with the
report. "It did happen, and accordingly it is still being investigated."
Another officer at the Pentagon said he felt that the latest
revelations, including the use of dogs to frighten juveniles, were some
of the most worrisome of the scandal. He said one particular worry at
the Pentagon is how the use of dogs against Arab juveniles will be
viewed in the Middle East.
"People know that in war, you know, you have to break eggs," he said.
"But this crosses the line."
Staff writer Bradley Graham contributed to this report.