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Leadership Failures Behind Iraqi Prisoner Abuse, says US General - 2004-05-11


The U.S. Army General investigating the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. troops blamed a failure of leadership for the scandal.

Army Major General Antonio Taguba, who wrote a report detailing the abuses against detainees at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison, told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday that the mistreatment stemmed from faulty leadership.

?Failure of leadership, sir, from the brigade commander on down, lack of discipline, no training whatsoever, and no supervision,? he said. ?Supervisory omission was rampant.?

However, Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the top Democrat on the committee, said the acts of abuse were not the spontaneous actions of lower enlisted personnel. In questioning General Taguba, Mr. Levin said it appeared that leadership condoned and even suggested and planned such activities.

?That is more than a failure of leadership,? he said. ?That is an active decision on the part of leadership. It is not just oversight, negligence or neglect or sloppiness, but purposeful, willful, determination to use these techniques as part of an interrogation process. Would you include that in your definition of failure of leadership??

General Taguba responded with, ?Yes, sir, they were.?

General Taguba added that Brigadier General Janis Karpinski of the 800th Military Police Brigade was to blame for the failed leadership.

General Karpinski is in the Army Reserves and had command of military prisons in Iraq. She has been suspended in connection with the abuse, but not charged.

Still, General Taguba said he never found any orders to U.S. soldiers to abuse detainees. ?We did not find any order whatsoever, sir, written or otherwise, that directed them to do what they did,? he said.

Undersecretary of defense for intelligence, Stephen Cambone, says U.S. troops in Iraq were under orders to abide by the Geneva Conventions, which spell out the terms for humane treatment of prisoners. ?From the outset of the war in Iraq, the United States government has made clear that the Geneva Conventions applied to activities in that country,? he said.

It was the second public hearing by the Armed Services Committee into the prisoner abuse matter. Images of U.S. troops mistreating detainees have sparked international outrage and calls from Democrats for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to resign. Congressional Republicans and the White House have dismissed those calls.

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