A commission led by the former US Defence Secretary James Schlesinger has issued its report on the abuse of inmates at Abu Ghraib prison on the outskirts of Baghdad.
Here are some key excerpts from the commission's report:
The events of October through December 2003 on the night shift of Tier 1 at Abu Ghraib prison were acts of brutality and purposeless sadism. We know these abuses occurred at the hands of both military police and military intelligence personnel. The pictured abuses, unacceptable even in wartime, were not part of authorised interrogations nor were they even directed at intelligence targets. They represent deviant behaviour and a failure of military leadership and discipline. However, we do know that some of the egregious abuses at Abu Ghraib which were not photographed did occur during interrogation sessions and that abuses during interrogation sessions occurred elsewhere.
...Abuses of varying severity occurred at differing locations under differing circumstances and context. They were widespread and, though inflicted on only a small percentage of those detained, they were serious both in number and in effect. No approved procedures called for or allowed the kinds of abuse that in fact occurred. There is no evidence of a policy of abuse promulgated by senior officials or military authorities. Still, the abuses were not just the failure of some individuals to follow known standards, and they are more than the failure of a few leaders to enforce proper discipline. There is both institutional and personal responsibility at higher levels.
PRISONER ABUSE REPORT
The aberrant behaviour on the night shift in Cell Block 1 at Abu Ghraib would have been avoided with proper training, leadership and oversight
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...The Panel reviewed various criminal investigations and a number of command and other major investigations. The Panel also conducted interviews of relevant persons, including the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defence, other senior Department of Defence officials, the military chain-of-command and their staffs and other officials directly and indirectly involved with Abu Ghraib and other detention operations. However, the Panel did not have full access to information involving the role of the Central Intelligence Agency in detention operations; this is an area the Panel believes needs further investigation and review.
As of the date of this report, there were about 300 incidents of alleged detainee abuse... Of the 155 completed investigations, 66 have resulted in a determination that detainees under the control of US forces were abused... eight in Guantanamo, three in Afghanistan and 55 in Iraq.
...The aberrant behaviour on the night shift in Cell Block 1 at Abu Ghraib would have been avoided with proper training, leadership and oversight.
...Concerning the abuses at Abu Ghraib, the impact was magnified by the fact the shocking photographs were aired throughout the world in April 2004... The highest levels of command and leadership in the Department of Defense were not adequately informed nor prepared to respond to the Congress and the American public when copies were released to the press.
Striving for freedom
...Military intelligence personnel share responsibility for the abuses at Abu Ghraib with military police soldiers.
...We believe LTG Sanchez should have taken stronger action in November when he realised the extent of the leadership problems at Abu Ghraib... LTG Sanchez and MG Wojdakowski failed to ensure proper staff oversight of detention and interrogation operations.
...The vast majority of detainees in Guantanamo, Afghanistan and Iraq were treated appropriately.
...We should emphasise that tens of thousands of men and women in uniform strive every day under austere and dangerous conditions to secure our freedom and the freedom of others. By historical standards, they rate as some of the best trained, disciplined and professional service men and women in our nation's history.