’Chaos’ led to prison abuse -report

A panel investigating operations at US military prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Cuba, cited leadership failures of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the military command in Iraq that resulted in naked detainees being abused.

“There was sadism on the night shift at Abu Ghraib, sadism that was certainly not authorised,” panel head and former defence secretary James Schlesinger said.

The report found “no evidence of a policy of abuse promulgated by senior officials or military authorities.”

However, Schlesinger said: “We believe that there is institutional and personal responsibility right up the chain of command as far as Washington is concerned.”

The four-member panel, appointed by Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, said leadership failures were exacerbated by inadequate training and a failure to anticipate the fierce insurgency which saw 8,000 inmates housed at Abu Ghraib.

Schlesinger said a lack of planning led to a ratio of one US guard watching some 75 detainees.

The panel also criticised the former commander of US forces in Iraq, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, for not paying close enough attention to events at Abu Ghraib.

He visited the prison several times when abuses were occurring between October and December of last year.

The prisoner abuse scandal came to light in April after shocking photographs emerged of US guards sexually humiliating naked detainees at Abu Ghraib.

But a leading international human rights group has slammed the report, saying it failed to address government policy that may have led to the mistreatment and torture of detainees.

“The report talks about management failures when it should be talking about policy failures,” Reed Brody, special counsel with Human Rights Watch, said.

The group has called for an independent September 11-style commission.

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