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Abu Ghurayb Prison Investigations


The Taguba Report


On 19 January 2004, Lieutenant General Ricardo S. Sanchez, Commander of the Combined Joint Task Force Seven requested that an Investigating Officer (IO) be appointed to conduct an investigation of the operations within the 800th Military Police. On 31 January 2004, the Commander of Coalition Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC), appointed Major General (MG) Antonio M. Taguba, Deputy Commanding General Support, CFLCC, as the IO for this investigation. Specifically, MG Taguba was tasked to:

  • Inquire into all the facts and circumstances surrounding recent allegations of detainee abuse, specifically allegations of maltreatment at the Abu Ghraib Prison (Baghdad Central Confinement Facility (BCCF)).
  • Inquire into detainee escapes and accountability lapses as reported by CJTF-7, specifically allegations concerning these events at the Abu Ghraib Prison.
  • Investigate the training, standards, employment, command policies, internal procedures, and command climate in the 800th MP Brigade, as appropriate.
  • Make specific findings of fact concerning all aspects of the investigation, and make any recommendations for corrective action, as appropriate.

LTG Sanchez's request to investigate the 800th MP Brigade followed the initiation of a criminal investigation by the US Army Criminal investigation Command (USACIDC) into specific allegations of detainee abuse committed by members of the 372nd MP Company, 320th MP Battalion in Iraq. These units are part of the 800th MP Brigade.

The team began its investigation by reviewing the Assessment of DoD Counter-Terrorism Interrogation and Detention Operations in Iraq which was conducted by Major General Geoffrey D. Miller from 31 August 2003 - 9 September 2003. MG Miller's team was tasked to review the ability of those in the Iraq to quickly obtain useable intelligence from internees. His investigation concentrated on three areas: intelligence integration, synchronization, and fusion; interrogation operations; and detention operations.

MG Taguba's team also analyzed Report on Detention and Corrections in Iraq conducted by a team led by MG Donald J. Ryder from 13 October 2003 - 6 November 2003.


After looking at MG Miller's and MG Ryder's report, MG Taguba's team began their investigation into the actions of the 800th MP Brigade. They reviewed all documents available regarding the 800th MP Brigade and analyzed witness statements taken from military police, military interrogators, suspects, and detainees. The team also reviewed photos and videos of detainee abuse. On 2 February 2004, MG Taguba and his team traveled to Abu Ghraib Prison for a one day inspection in order to become familiar with the facility. On 8 February 2004, the team conducted multiple interviews of witnesses in Baghdad. They continued to conduct interviews on the 14 and 15 of February in Kuwait. Those interviewed in Kuwait were members of the 800th MP Brigade.


Several US Army Soldiers have committed egregious acts and grave breaches of international law at Abu Ghraib/BCCF and Camp Bucca, Iraq. Furthermore, key senior leaders in both 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 (BCCF) and at Camp Bucca during the period August 2003 to February 2004.

Department of the Army, Inspector General, Detainee Operations Inspection

This assessment was conducted on the request of the Acting Secretary of the Army. Its purpose was to conduct a functional analysis of the Army's internment, enemy prisoner of war, detention operations, and interrogation procedures, policies, and practices based on current Department of Defense and Army policies and doctrine. The inspection was to identify any capability and systemic shortfalls with respect to internment, enemy prisoner of war, detention operations, and interrogation procedures and recommend appropriate resolutions or changes if required. This assessment was not an investigation into particular incidents or units. Operations at Guantanamo Bay and the operations of the CIA and the Defense HUMINT Services were not inspected for this report.

Two teams conducted inspections in 26 locations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Continental United States. The teams also interviewed and surveyed over 650 leaders and soldiers, who spanned the ranks from Private to Major General. They also reviewed 103 reports of allegations of abuse and 22 unit investigations.

The following are summaries of the different topics examined in this assessment:

Capture, Care and Control of Detainees

Army forces were successfully conducting detainee operations to include the capture, care, and control of detainees. Commanders and leaders emphasized the importance of humane treatment of detainees. It was observed that leaders and soldiers treated detainees humanely and understood their obligation to report abuse. In those instances where detainee abuse occurred, individuals failed to adhere to basic standards of discipline, training, or Army Values; in some cases individual misconduct was accompanied by leadership failure to maintain fundamental unit discipline, failure to provide proper leader supervision of and guidance to their soldiers, or failure to institute proper control processes.

For this investigation, abuse was defined as wrongful death, assault, battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, or theft. After a review and categorization of the summary reports of the 125 investigations was conducted, the investigators could not identify a systemic cause for the abuse incidents.

Interrogation Operations

The need for timely, tactical human intelligence is critical for successful military operations particularly in the current environment. Commanders recognized this and adapted by holding detainees longer at the point of capture and collecting points to gain and exploit intelligence. Commanders and interrogators also conducted tactical questioning to gain immediate battlefield intelligence. Commanders and leaders must set the conditions for success, and commanders, leaders, and soldiers must adapt to the ever changing environment in order to be successful.

Doctrine does not clearly specify the interdependent, and yet independent, roles, missions, and responsibilities, of the Military Police and Military Intelligence units when they are operating in internment/resettlement facilities. Military Intelligence units did not have enough interpreters and interrogators which resulted in a backlog of interrogations and the potential loss of intelligence. Military Intelligence Officers were not adequately trained to manage all the tasks expected of them.


The Army's leaders and soldiers were effectively conducting detainee operations and providing for the care and security of detainees in an intense operational environment. Based on this inspection, the writers of the report were unable to identify system failures that resulted in incidents of abuse. This report offers 52 recommendations that are designed to improve the ability of the Army to accomplish the key tasks of detainee operations: keep the enemy off the battlefield in a secure and humane manner, and gain intelligence in accordance with Army standards.

Final Report of the Independent Panel To Review DoD Detention Operations

Chairman: The Honorable James R. Schlesinger
Panel Remembers: The Honorable Harold Brown, The Honorable Tillie K. Fowler, General Charles A. Horner (USAF-RET)
Executive Director Dr. James A. Blackwell, Jr.

This report was conducted by an independent panel that was appointed by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. They were tasked to provide professional advice on what caused the detainee abuse and what steps needed to be taken to ensure that the abuses were not repeated. The Panel reviewed previous investigations and conducted interviews with relevant people. In their report, The Panel reviewed the policy the United States developed since 9/11 on detention and interrogation. They also looked at the procedures of detention and interrogation, the abuses, and the policy and command responsibilities.

The following are summaries of the different topics examined in this report:

Detention and Interrogation Procedures

At Abu Ghraib, the ratio of military police to detainees was very small. This made it difficult to keep track of prisoners. It also didn't help that Abu Ghraib was located in an active war zone in which the military police had to also participate in force protection of the complex as well as escorting convoys of supplies to and from the prison. Adding to these problems was the inadequacy of leadership, oversight and support needed to face the increased difficulties.


As of the date of this report, August 2004, there were about 300 incidents of alleged detainee abuse across the Joint Operations Areas. Of the 155 completed investigations, 66 have resulted in a determination that detainees under the control of U.S. forces were abused. Dozens of non-judicial punishments have already been handed out. Others were in various stages of the military justice process.

The aberrant behavior on the night shift in Cell Block 1 at Abu Ghraib would have been avoided with proper training, leadership, and oversight. Though acts of abuse occurred at a number of locations, those in Cell Block 1 have a unique nature fostered by the predilections of the noncommissioned officers in charge. Had these noncommissioned officers behaved more like those on the day shift, these acts would not have taken place.

Policy and Command Responsibilities

Interrogation policies, in Iraq, were inadequate or deficient at the level of the Department of Defense, CENTCOM/CJTF-7, and Abu Ghraib Prison. Policies to guide the demands for actionable intelligence lagged behind battlefield needs.

The Panel concurs with the findings of the Taguba and Jones investigations that serious leadership problems in the 800th MP Brigade and 205th MI Brigade, to include the 320th MP Battalion Commander and the Director of the Joint Debriefing and Interrogation Center (JDIC), allowed the abuses at Abu Ghraib. The Panel endorses the disciplinary actions taken as a result of the Taguba Investigation. The Panel anticipates that the Chain of Command will take additional disciplinary action as a result of the referrals of the Jones/Fay investigation.

The Panel believes that LTG Sanchez should have taken stronger action when he realized the extent of the leadership problems at Abu Ghraib. They also agree with the Jones findings that LTG Sanchez and MG Wajdakowski failed to ensure proper staff oversight of detention and interrogation operations.

CJTF-7 was never fully resourced, in terms of its responsibilities, to meet the size and complexity of their mission. When it became apparent that the insurgency was growing in Iraq, and the potential for the capture of large amounts of detainees increased, additional military police forces should have been added.


The Panel came to the conclusion that most detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay were treated appropriately, and most detainee operations were run in compliance with U.S. policy and directives. They also see that the Department of Defense is on the correct path to dealing with the personal and professional failures as well as remedying the underlying causes of the abuses.


The Panel ended their report by endorsing previous recommendations made by other inspections, investigations, and assessments They then added several recommendations to certain areas that were not covered by previous reports.

  • The United States should further define its policy on the categorization and status of all detainees as it applies to various operations and theaters. This policy should be applicable to all government agencies.
  • The Department of Defense needs to address and develop joint doctrine to define the appropriate collaboration between military intelligence and military police in a detention facility.
  • The nation needs more specialists for detention/interrogation operations, including linguists, interrogators, human intelligence, counter-intelligence, corrections police and behavioral scientists. The use of contractors will need to continue for the foreseeable future, but will require rigorous oversight.
  • Joint Forces Command should chair a Joint Services Integrated Process Team to develop a new Operational Concept for Detention Operations in the new era of warfare. Special emphasis should be placed on detention operations during counter-insurgency campaigns and stability operations. Also, attention should be given to preparing for conditions in which normal law enforcement has broken down in an occupied or failed state.
  • Force structure improvements are need in both the Army's Military Intelligence and Military Police units. There should be a mix of active and reserve units for both Military Intelligence and Military Police. The Navy and the Air Force should also undertake force structure reviews to improve performance in detention operations.
  • Well-documented policy and procedures on approved interrogation techniques should be promulgated early on and must be clearly understood by all interrogation personnel.
  • All personnel who may be engaged in detention operations should participate in a professional ethics program.
  • Clearer guidelines for the interaction of CIA with the Department of Defense in detention and interrogation operations must be defined.
  • The United States needs to redefine it approach to customary and treaty international humanitarian law.
  • The Department od Defense should continue to foster its operational relationship with the International Committee of the Red Cross. Also, the ICRC should adapt to the new realities of conflict which are different from the Western European environment from which the ICRC's interpretation of the Geneva Conventions was drawn.
  • The Secretary of Defense should ensure the effective functioning of rapid reporting channels for communication bad news to senior Department of Defense leadership without prejudice to any criminal or disciplinary actions already underway.
  • Medical personnel training should include the obligation to report any detainee abuse. The Department of Defense should pay attention to the need for medical personnel to screen and monitor the health of detention personnel and detainees.

AR 15-6 Investigation of the Abu Ghraib Prison and 205th Military Intelligence Brigade


On 16 June 2004, Acting Secretary of the Army R. L. Brownlee appointed General Paul J. Kern, Commander, US Army Materiel Command (AMC), as the new Procedure 15 appointing authority. On 25 June 2004, GEN Kern appointed LTG Anthony R. Jones, Deputy Commanding General, US Army Training and Doctrine Command, as an additional Procedure 15 investigating officer. MG Fay was retained as an investigating officer.

Without reinvestigating areas reviewed by MG Fay, LTG Jones was specifically directed to focus on whether organizations or personnel higher than the 205th MI BDE chain of command, or events and circumstances outside of the 205th MI Brigade, were involved, directly or indirectly, in the questionable activities regarding alleged detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib prison. The investigative teams conducted a comprehensive review of all available background documents and statements pertaining to Abu Ghraib from a wide variety of sources.

Operational Environment

The events at Abu Ghraib cannot be understood in a vacuum. There were several interrelated aspects of the operational environment that played important roles in the abuses that occurred at Abu Ghraib. First, CJTF-7 was not resourced adequately to accomplish the missions of stability and support operations(SASO) and support of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). Second, providing support to the CPA required greater resources than envisioned in operational plans. Third, opposition was robust and hostilities continued during a period that was suppose to be relatively non-hostile.


According to the report, abuses clearly occurred at the prison at Abu Ghraib. There is no single, simple explanation for why this abuse at Abu Ghraib happened. The primary causes are misconduct (ranging from inhumane to sadistic) by a small group of morally corrupt soldiers and civilians, a lack of discipline on the part of the leaders and soldiers of the 205th MI BDE and a failure or lack of leadership by multiple echelons within CJTF-7. Contributing factors can be traced to issues affecting Command and Control, Doctrine, Training, and the experience of the Soldiers we asked to perform this vital mission.

The abuses at Abu Ghraib primarily fall into two categories: a) intentional violent or sexual abuse and, b) abusive actions taken based on misinterpretations or confusion regarding law or policy.

Most, though not all, of the violent or sexual abuses occurred separately from scheduled interrogations and did not focus on persons held for intelligence purposes. No policy, directive or doctrine directly or indirectly caused violent or sexual abuse. In these cases, Soldiers knew they were violating the approved techniques and procedures.

Confusion about what interrogation techniques were authorized resulted from the proliferation of guidance and information from other theaters of operation; individual interrogator experiences in other theaters; and, the failure to distinguish between interrogation operations in other theaters and Iraq. This confusion contributed to the occurrence of some of the non-violent and non-sexual abuses.

Discipline and Leadership

Military Intelligence and Military Police units had missions throughout the Iraqi Theater of Operations (ITO), however, 205th MI Brigade and 800th Military Police Brigade leaders at Abu Ghraib failed to execute their assigned responsibilities. The leaders from units located at Abu Ghraib or with supervision over Soldiers and units at Abu Ghraib, failed to supervise subordinates or provide direct oversight of this important mission. These leaders failed to properly discipline their Soldiers. These leaders failed to learn from prior mistakes and failed to provide continued mission-specific training. The 205th MI Brigade Commander did not assign a specific subordinate unit to be responsible for interrogations at Abu Ghraib and did not ensure that a Military Intelligence chain of command at Abu Ghraib was established. The absence of effective leadership was a factor in not sooner discovering and taking actions to prevent both the violent/sexual abuse incidents and the misinterpretation/confusion incidents. Neither Department of Defense nor Army doctrine caused any abuses.

"Ghost Detainees" and Other Contributing Factors

The appointing authority and investigating officers made a specific finding regarding the issue of "ghost detainees" within Abu Ghraib. It is clear that the interrogation practices of other government agencies led to a loss of accountability at Abu Ghraib. DoD must document and enforce adherence by other government agencies with established DoD practices and procedures while conducting detainee interrogation operations at DoD facilities.

Demands on the Human Intelligence (HUMINT) capabilities in a counterinsurgency and in the future joint operational environment will continue to tax tactical and strategic assets. The Army needs trained and experienced tactical HUMINT personnel.

Working alongside non-DOD organizations/agencies in detention facilities proved complex and demanding. The perception that non-DOD agencies had different rules regarding interrogation and detention operations was evident. Interrogation and detention policies and limits of authority should apply equally to all agencies in the Iraqi Theater of Operations.


Leaders and soldiers throughout Operation Iraqi Freedom were confronted with a complex and dangerous operational environment. Although a clear breakdown in discipline and leadership, the events at Abu Ghraib should not blind people from the noble conduct of the vast majority of the soldiers.

"The Church Report": Department of Defense review of detention operations and interrogation techniques: Executive Summary

On May 25, 2004, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld directed the Naval Inspector General, Vice Admiral Albert T. Church, III, to conduct a comprehensive review of Department of Defense (DoD) interrogation operations. In response to this tasking, Vice Admiral Church assembled a team of experienced investigators and subject matter experts in interrogation and detention operations. The Secretary specified that the team was to have access to all documents, records, personnel and any other information deemed relevant, and that all DoD personnel must cooperate fully with the investigation.

The investigation principally focused on the development of approved interrogation policy, the actual employment of interrogation techniques, and what role, if any, these played in the detainee abuses. Also investigated was the DoD's use of civilian contractors in interrogation operations, the support or participation of the DoD in interrogation activities of other government agencies, and medical issues relating to interrogations.

Interrogation Policy Development

Regarding interrogation policy, it was concluded that the findings of the Independent Panel, which determined that "[n]o approved procedures called for or allowed the kinds of abuse that in fact occurred, and there is no evidence of a policy of abuse promulgated by senior officials or military authorities," were consistent with what the current team found. However, the team believed that there were several missed opportunities. Among these were that no specific guidelines on interrogation procedures were provided to the commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that lessons learned from earlier conflicts were not incorporated into current planning operations.

Actual Employment of Interrogation Techniques

Guantanamo Bay, Cuba: Interrogation policies were effectively disseminated and interrogators closely adhered to the policies, with few minor exceptions. When the military police help set conditions for interrogations by military intelligence, it is an effective model that greatly enhances intelligence collection and does not lead to detainee abuse, as long as it is conducted under controlled conditions, with specific guidance and rigorous command oversight.
Afghanistan and Iraq: The findings in Afghanistan and Iraq stand in contrast to the findings in Guantanamo Bay. Dissemination of interrogation policy was generally poor, and interrogators fell back on their training and experience. In Iraq, we also found generally poor unit-level compliance with approved policy memoranda even when those units were aware of the relevant memoranda. However, in both Afghanistan and Iraq, there was significant overlap between the techniques contained in approved policy memoranda and the techniques that interrogators employed based solely on their training and experience.

Detainee Abuse

The team found no link between approved interrogation techniques and detainee abuse. First, much of the abuse involved the sort of straightforward physical violence that plainly transgressed the bounds of any interrogation policy in any theater, and also violated any definition of "humane" detainee treatment. Second, much of the abuse is wholly unconnected to any interrogation technique or policy, as it was committed by personnel who were not MI interrogators, and who almost certainly did not know the details of such policy. And third, even when MI interrogators committed the abuse, their actions were unrelated to any approved techniques.


The need for intelligence in the post-9/11 world, and the enemy's ability to resist interrogation, have caused senior policy makers and military commanders to reevaluate traditional U.S. interrogation methods and search for new and more effective interrogation techniques. According to the investigation, this search has always been conducted within the confines of the armed forces' obligation to treat detainees humanely. While authorized interrogation techniques have not been a causal factor in detainee abuse, the team has nevertheless identified a number of missed opportunities in the policy development process. They cannot say that there would necessarily have been less detainee abuse had these opportunities been acted upon. These are opportunities, however, that should be considered in the development of future interrogation policies.

Other Investigations

Report of the International Committee Of the Red Cross (ICRC) on the Treatment by the Coalition Forces of Prisoners of War and other Protected Persons by the Geneva Conventions in Iraq During Arrest, Internment, and Interrogation

In their report, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) drew the attention of the Coalition Forces (CF) to a number of serious violations of International Humanitarian Law. These violations have been documented and sometimes observed while visiting prisoners of war, civilian internees and other protected persons by the Geneva Conventions in Iraq between March and November 2003. During its visits to places of internment of the CF, the ICRC collected allegations during private interviews with persons deprived of their liberty relating to the treatment by the CF of protected persons during their capture, arrest, transfer, internment and interrogation.

The main violations included:

  • Brutality against protected persons upon capture and initial custody, sometimes causing death or serious injury
  • Absence of notification of arrest of persons deprived of their liberty to their families rousing distress among persons deprived of their liberty and their families
  • Physical or psychological coercion during interrogation to secure information
  • Prolonged solitary confinement in cells devoid of daylight
  • Excessive and disproportionate use of force against persons deprived of their liberty resulting in death or injury during their period of internment

Serious problems of conduct by the CF affecting persons deprived of their liberty were also presented in the report:

  • Seizure and confiscation of private belongings of persons deprived of their liberty
  • Exposure of persons deprived of their liberty to dangerous tasks
  • Holding persons deprived of their liberty in dangerous places where they are not protected from shelling

The ICRC made several requests/recommendations to the CF in their report. Those included:

  • to respect at all times the human dignity, physical integrity and cultural sensitivity of the persons deprived of their liberty held under their control
  • to set up a system of notifications of arrest to ensure quick and accurate transmission of information to the families of persons deprived of their liberty
  • to prevent all forms of ill-treatment, moral or physical coercion of persons deprived of their liberty in relation to Interrogation
  • to set up an internment regime which ensures the respect of the psychological integrity and human dignity of the persons deprived of their liberty
  • to ensure that all persons deprived of their liberty are allowed sufficient time every day outside in the sunlight, and that they are allowed to move and exercise in the outside yard
  • to define and apply regulations and sanctions compatible with International Humanitarian Law and to ensure that persons deprived of their liberty are fully informed upon arrival about such regulations and sanctions
  • to thoroughly investigate violations of International Humanitarian Law in order to determine responsibilities and prosecute those found responsible for violations of International Humanitarian Law
  • to ensure that battle group units arresting Individuals and staff in charge of internment facilities receive adequate training enabling them to operate in a proper manner and fulfill their responsibilities as arresting authority without resorting to ill-treatment or making excessive use of force

The practices described in this report were prohibited under International Humanitarian Law. They warranted serious attention by the CF. In particular, the CF should review their policies and practices, take corrective action and improve the treatment of prisoners of war and other protected persons under their authority. This report was part of the bilateral and confidential dialogue undertaken by the ICRC with the CF. In the future, the ICRC will continue its bilateral and confidential dialogue with the CF in accordance with provisions of International Humanitarian Law, on the basis of its monitoring of the conditions of arrest, interrogation and internment of persons deprived of their liberty held by the CF.

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Page last modified: 28-07-2011 00:53:19 ZULU