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Taguba: No direct order given for abuse

Senators hear conflicting testimony on who was in charge


ON CNN TV
Stay with CNN-USA for updates, analysis and perspective on the images of Iraqi prisoner abuse newly seen by members of both houses of Congress. Also: How the scandal looks from the campaign trail.
VIDEO
Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba testifies that he believes there was no policy, no order given to military police to committ abuses -- that the problem was confined to a relative few.

Taguba makes an opening statement to the Senate committee.

CNN's Tom Foreman takes a look at the career of Taguba and his father's experience as a World War II veteran.

CNN's Brian Todd on the seven U.S. soldiers accused of abuse.
MAJ. GEN. ANTONIO TAGUBA
Experience: Deputy commanding general for support, 3rd U.S. Army. Former acting director of the Army staff at the Pentagon. Began his career with troop-leading assignments in Korea.

Personal:
Second highest ranking Filipino-American in U.S. Army. Father was a U.S. Army sergeant and a POW of the Japanese army in the Philippines during World War II.

Education:
B.A. in history, M.A. in public administration, M.A. in international relations, M.A. in national security and strategic studies.

Awards:
Legion of Merit
Meritorious Service Medal
Army Commendation Medal
Army Staff Identification Badge
Distinguished Service Medal.

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Antonio Taguba
Senate Armed Services Committee
Iraq
Military Intelligence

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. Army general in charge of the investigation into abuse of some Iraqi prisoners told a Senate committee hearing Tuesday that "a failure of leadership" was to blame for the situation, and said there was no evidence the soldiers involved were acting under orders.

But lawmakers at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing also heard conflicting testimony about who was in charge at Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad, where the abuse took place.

Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba told the committee he did not find any evidence "written or otherwise" that the military police members involved in the abuse were ordered to soften up prisoners for interrogation.

"We did not find any evidence of a policy or a direct order given to these soldiers to conduct what they did. I believe that they did it on their own volition and I believe that they collaborated with several MI [military intelligence] interrogators at the lower level," Taguba said.

Taguba disagreed with a top Pentagon civilian over who was in charge of Abu Ghraib.

Taguba told the senators that Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of U.S. troops in Iraq, put Abu Ghraib under the command of a military intelligence unit in November 2003.

But Stephen A. Cambone, undersecretary of defense for intelligence, testified that the MI commander was only in charge of the facility, not of the MP units.

Several senators said the setup was confusing at best and that the MPs may have received mixed signals about who was in charge and what was allowed.

Some of those implicated in the case have said they were told to prepare the prisoners for questioning by military intelligence officers at Abu Ghraib.(Gallery: Army report on abuse allegations)

"How do you expect the MPs to get it straight if we have a difference between the two of you?" asked Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts.

Other senators questioned whether instructions to the military police during a visit to Iraq late last summer by Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller -- who then commanded the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba -- about "setting the conditions" for interrogations could have been seen as instructions for roughing up some prisoners.

Cambone said that was a "misreading" of Miller's intent and that he was only asking the military policy to coordinate with intelligence officials. Miller has since taken over U.S.-operated prisons in Iraq.

In his report on the abuse, Taguba concluded that U.S. military police in Iraq inflicted "sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuse" on prisoners in their custody numerous times. Seven soldiers face criminal charges in the case and six others, all officers or noncommissioned officers, have been reprimanded.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina asked if the acts seen in photographs broadcast over the past two weeks were the result of a handful of soldiers "having a good time in a perverted way" or whether they were acting on orders from someone else.

"I would say they were probably influenced by others, but not necessarily directed specifically by others," Taguba said.

Taguba said the root of the problem was a "failure in leadership ... from the brigade commander on down."

"Lack of discipline, no training whatsoever and no supervision. Supervisory omission was rampant," he said.

Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan suggested the abuse was more than the work of some lower-level MPs. He said the abuse allegations "reek of an organized effort and methodical preparation for interrogation."

"The collars used on prisoners, the dogs and the cameras did not suddenly appear out of thin air," Levin said. "These acts of abuse were not the spontaneous actions of lower ranking enlisted personnel who lacked the proper supervision."

Cambone said that the U.S. government "made clear that the Geneva Conventions apply to our activities in that country" and said that "members of our armed forces should have been aware of that."

But he said there was a breakdown at the Abu Ghraib prison and that it is being investigated.

Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski was in charge of the 800th Military Police Brigade, which operated 12 prison facilities in Iraq, including Abu Ghraib.

Karpinski, Cambone said, was "as best as I understand it ... not frequently at Abu Ghraib."

Karpinski, who was relieved of her command and reprimanded, told CNN in an interview that although the MPs accused of abuse belonged to a company under one of her battalions, they were taking their orders from military intelligence. (CNN Access: Karpinski)

Taguba said he found "friction" between Karpinski and the military intelligence brigade commander, Col. Thomas Pappas, and was concerned because information about what was going on in the prison had not reached the MP brigade command.

"We were puzzled about the fact that none of this stuff was going above the battalion commander," he said.

While Taguba said his investigation found no evidence that knowledge of the abuse went above the brigade level, he pointed out that his query looked into the military police angle only and that a separate investigation into the military intelligence side was under way.

He told the senators that none of several other detention facilities under the same brigade command had problems of the type found at Abu Ghraib and that only Abu Ghraib had been placed under the control of military intelligence.

A Red Cross report delivered to U.S. and British officials in February warned that prisoners considered likely sources of intelligence faced coercion that in some cases was "tantamount to torture." (Full story)

Taguba testified that he had not read the Red Cross report but agreed with its finding that the abuse was systemic. He said he was told that some inmates were moved around to avoid visits by Red Cross officials.

Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma said he was not the only one who was "more outraged at the outrage" than by the treatment of Iraqi prisoners, some of whom "have American blood probably on their hands." ( Full story)

On the other side of the aisle, Democrat Mark Dayton of Minnesota used his question period to accuse Pentagon officials of sanitizing the abuse and obscuring the truth.

"Those pictures were disruptive because they defy that sanitizing," he said.

Graham dismissed the partisan wrangling, saying he believed an investigation into the prison abuse should "be bringing us together and not tearing us apart."

He asked Taguba how he would feel if Saddam Hussein were treated in the way some Iraqi prisoners were.

"We still have to follow the tenets of international law," Taguba said.

All 100 senators will have a three-hour window Wednesday to view additional photographs and video showing abuse of Iraqi prisoners, Sen. John Warner, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said Tuesday. Pentagon officials will deliver the images to the Senate and take them back afterward. ( Full story)

CNN's Joe Johns and Steve Turnham contributed to this report.


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