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Excerpts From Prison Inquiry ’Sadistic, Blatant and Wanton Criminal Abuses’ Reported at Abu Ghraib

Tuesday 4 May 2004

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Excerpts of the Army’s investigative report on alleged abuses at U.S. military prisons in Abu Ghraib and Camp Bucca, Iraq. It was requested by the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, and written by Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba:


Article 15-6 Investigation of the 800th Military Police Brigade; Secret/No Foreign Dissemination


Several potential suspects rendered full and complete confessions regarding their personal involvement and the involvement of fellow soldiers in this abuse. Several potential suspects invoked their rights under Article 31 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution….

Between October and December 2003, at the Abu Ghraib Confinement Facility, numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees. This systemic and illegal abuse of detainees was intentionally perpetrated by several members of the military police guard force…. The allegations of abuse were substantiated by detailed witness statements and the discovery of extremely graphic photographic evidence….


I find that the intentional abuse of detainees by military police personnel included the following acts:

• Punching, slapping and kicking detainees; jumping on their naked feet.

• Videotaping and photographing naked male and female detainees.

• Forcibly arranging detainees in various sexually explicit positions for photographing.

• Forcing detainees to remove their clothing and keeping them naked for several days at a time.

• Forcing naked male detainees to wear women’s underwear.

• Forcing groups of male detainees to masturbate themselves while being photographed and videotaped.

• Arranging naked male detainees in a pile and then jumping on them.

• Positioning a naked detainee on a box [of meals ready to eat], with a sandbag on his head, and attaching wires to his fingers, toes and penis to simulate electric torture.

• Writing "I am a Rapest" (sic) on the leg of a detainee alleged to have forcibly raped a 15-year-old fellow detainee, and then photographing him naked.

• Placing a dog chain or strap around a naked detainee’s neck and having a female soldier pose for a picture.

• A male MP [military police] guard having sex with a female detainee.

• Using military working dogs (without muzzles) to intimidate and frighten detainees, and in at least one case biting and severely injuring a detainee.

• Taking photographs of dead Iraqi detainees.

In addition, several detainees also described the following acts of abuse, which under the circumstances, I find credible based on the clarity of their statements and supporting evidence provided by other witnesses:

• Breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees.

• Threatening detainees with a charged 9-millimeter pistol.

• Pouring cold water on naked detainees.

• Beating detainees with a broom handle and a chair.

• Threatening male detainees with rape.

• Allowing a military police guard to stitch the wound of a detainee who was injured after being slammed against the wall in his cell.

• Sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broomstick.


Military Intelligence (MI) interrogators and other U.S. Government Agency interrogators actively requested that MP guards set physical and mental conditions for favorable interrogation of witnesses….

Sgt. Javal S. Davis, 372nd MP Company, stated in his sworn statement as follows: "I witnessed prisoners in the MI hold section, wing 1A, being made to do various things that I would question morally…. Also the wing belongs to MI, and it appeared MI personnel approved of the abuse." Sgt. Davis also stated that he had heard MI insinuate to the guards to abuse the inmates. When asked what MI said, he stated: "Loosen this guy up for us. Make sure he has a bad night. Make sure he gets the treatment." … Finally, Sgt. Davis stated: "The MI staffs to my understanding have been giving … compliments … like, ’Good job, they’re breaking down real fast. They answer every question. They’re giving out good information, finally, and keep up the good work.’ Stuff like that."

Mr. Adel L. Nakhla, a U.S. civilian contract translator, [said], "They made them do strange exercises by sliding on their stomach, jump up and down, throw water on them and made them some wet, called them all kinds of names such as ’gays,’ do they like to make love to guys, then they handcuffed their hands together and their legs with shackles and started to stack them on top of each other." …


The 320th MP Battalion and the 372nd MP Company had received no training in detention/internee operations. I also find that very little instruction or training was provided to MP personnel on the applicable rules of the Geneva Convention relative to the treatment of prisoners of war … [and] few, if any, copies of the Geneva Conventions were ever made available to MP personnel or detainees….

Operational journals at the various compounds and the 320th Battalion [site] contained numerous unprofessional entries and flippant comments, which highlighted the lack of discipline within the unit. There was no indication that the journals were ever reviewed by anyone in their chain of command….

Basic Army Doctrine was not widely referenced or utilized to develop the accountability practices throughout the 800th MP Brigade’s subordinate units. Daily processing, accountability and detainee care appear to have been made up as the operations developed with reliance on, and guidance from, junior members of the unit who had civilian corrections experience….

The Abu Ghraib and Camp Bucca detention facilities are significantly over their intended maximum capacity, while the guard force is undermanned and under-resourced. This imbalance has contributed to the poor living conditions, escapes and accountability lapses at the various facilities. The overcrowding of the facilities also limits the ability to identify and segregate leaders in the detainee population who may be organizing escapes and riots within the facility.

The screening, processing, and release of detainees who should not be in custody takes too long and contributes to the overcrowding and unrest in the detention facilities….


The Iraqi guards at Abu Ghraib demonstrate questionable work ethics and loyalties, and are a potentially dangerous contingent…. These guards have furnished the Iraqi criminal inmates with contraband, weapons and information. Additionally, they have facilitated the escape of at least one detainee….

In general, U.S. civilian contract personnel (Titan Corporation, CACI, etc….), third-country nationals and local contractors do not appear to be properly supervised within the detention facility at Abu Ghraib. During our on-site inspection, they wandered about with too much unsupervised free access in the detainee area…. Several interviewees insisted that the MP and MI Soldiers at Abu Ghraib received regular training on the basics of detainee operations; however, they have been unable to produce any verifying documentation, sign-in rosters or soldiers who can recall the content of this training.

The various detention facilities operated by the 800th MP Brigade have routinely held persons brought to them by other government agencies (OGAs) without accounting for them, knowing their identities, or even the reason for their detention. The Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center at Abu Ghraib called these detainees "ghost detainees." On at least one occasion, the 320th MP Battalion at Abu Ghraib held a handful of "ghost detainees" (6-8) for OGAs that they moved around within the facility to hide them from a visiting International Committee of the Red Cross survey team. This maneuver was deceptive, contrary to Army Doctrine and in violation of international law….


In addition to being severely undermanned, the quality of life for soldiers assigned to Abu Ghraib was extremely poor…. There were numerous mortar attacks, random rifle and [rocket-propelled grenade] attacks, and a serious threat to soldiers and detainees in the facility…. Finally, because of past associations and familiarity of soldiers within the brigade, it appears that friendship often took precedence over appropriate leader and subordinate relationships.


During the course of this investigation I conducted a lengthy interview with [Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, commander of the Army Reserve’s 800th Military Police Brigade], that lasted over four hours, and is included verbatim in the investigation annexes. Brig. Gen. Karpinski was extremely emotional during much of her testimony. What I found particularly disturbing in her testimony was her complete unwillingness to either understand or accept that many of the problems inherent in the 800th MP Brigade were caused or exacerbated by poor leadership and the refusal of her command to both establish and enforce basic standards and principles among its soldiers…. Karpinski … blames much of the abuse that occurred in Abu Ghraib on MI personnel and stated that MI personnel had given the MPs "ideas" that led to detainee abuse….

Psychological factors, such as the difference in culture, the soldiers’ quality of life, the real presence of mortal danger over an extended time period, and the failure of commanders to recognize these pressures contributed to the … atmosphere that existed at Abu Ghraib….


Due to the nature and scope of this investigation, I acquired the assistance of Col. Henry Nelson, a U.S. Air Force psychiatrist, to analyze the investigation materials…. He determined that there was evidence that the horrific abuses suffered by the detainees at Abu Ghraib were wanton acts of select soldiers in an unsupervised and dangerous setting….

Several Army soldiers have committed egregious acts and grave breaches of international law at Abu Ghraib and Camp Bucca, Iraq. Furthermore, key senior leaders in the 800th MP Brigade and the 205th MI Brigade failed to comply with established regulations, policies and command directives in preventing detainee abuses at Abu Ghraib and at Camp Bucca [from] August 2003 to February 2004….,0,5230616.story?coll=ny-worldnews-headlines

Forum posts

  • I think this is the worst thing I can emagine. The soldiers who commited these crimes should be put to death. They are a disgrace to the USA and should not be allowed to degrade our nation ever again. I further add they should be made an example to all people everywhere, to cause others to fear the cost of this type of torture. This again is the worst thing they could have done. I am a militery wife, and am ashamed of our Army, and the leadership that was placed over them, that allowed this to go on. I think we should be at war, but this type of animal-like behavior has no place , neither here nor there.

    • Your human comments on these horrible crimes should be shared by many more real American people not only to enforce punishment and real JUSICE but also to show the real people everywhere, mainly in the Arab countries, that they do not need to resort to "suicide" revenge operations, as the only defense they could do under this helplessness, as long as crimes like these, and including occupation, are denounced by majority of Americans who will not only say NO to their criminal politicians and decision makers but will unite with the Arab victims to bring them justice.