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Abu Ghraib: criminal action in 44 cases

More than two dozen soldiers and contractors attached to a military intelligence unit at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq approved or took part in abuses of Iraqi detainees, an Army investigation has found in one of the most comprehensive looks to date at the scandal that damaged America's image around the world. A few of the abuses amounted to torture, Maj. Gen. George Fay, one of the chief investigators, said Wednesday. ''This is clearly a deviation from everything we've taught people on how to behave,'' said Gen. Paul Kern, who oversaw the investigation. ''There were failures of leadership, of people seeing these things and not correcting them. There were failures of discipline.'' Officers in charge of the prison were negligent in the training and management of their troops, and some may face criminal charges, Army officials said. Until now, just seven lower-ranking military police soldiers have been charged. In Philadelphia, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry repeated his call for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to resign and for President Bush to appoint an independent commission, informs the Boston News. According to Bloomberg, U.S. Army investigators implicated 27 military intelligence personnel, including four private contractor employees, in the abuse of Iraqi prisoners, a day after a separate probe said responsibility extended all the way to the Pentagon. The Army probe led by General Paul Kern also blamed the abuse in part on strained resources stemming from inadequate postwar planning and the insurgency that followed the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime. The abuses at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad sparked public fury around the world following the release of photographs of naked and bound prisoners. The focus of the field investigations led by Major General George Fay and Lieutenant General Anthony Jones was the role of abuse of Iraqi prisoners at the prison. Senior U.S. officers were faulted for failing to oversee Abu Ghraib, where ``morally corrupt'' troops and civilians mistreated inmates, sometimes during questioning. Forty-One Referred In total, investigators referred 41 people for courts martial or other legal or administrative action. Twenty-seven military intelligence personnel, including four contractors under the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade -- the main unit at Abu Ghraib -- have been referred for possible administrative or criminal action in 44 cases. An Army general acknowledged for the first time on Wednesday that U.S. forces tortured Iraqis at the Abu Ghraib jail and his report said a colonel who headed the military intelligence unit at the prison could face criminal charges. "It's a harsh word, and in some instances, unfortunately, I think it was appropriate here. There were a few instances where torture was being used," Army Maj. Gen. George Fay told a Pentagon briefing on his investigation with Lt. Gen. Anthony Jones into the role of military intelligence personnel in the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, on the outskirts of Baghdad. Pentagon leaders and Bush administration officials had previously steered clear of describing the physical abuse and sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners as torture. Fay did not specify the actions he considered torture, reports Reuters.

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