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Abu Ghraib

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Abu Ghraib

Throughout the beginning

months of 2004, one of the largest military scandals in U.S. history became the center of worldwide controversy. It has been said that the degrading acts by the U.S. military at Abu Ghraib were responsible for the suffering of innocent Iraqi civilians, the humiliation of the world's strongest defense, and for negatively affecting the United States' reputation in the world overall.

Abu Ghraib, located 20 miles west of Baghdad, originally was one of the world's most notorious prisons during Saddam Hussein's time in power. "Men and women were jam-packed into the facility where weekly executions, torture, and terrible living conditions took place. In April of 2003, the prison complex was totally stripped and rehabilitated by the coalition authorities. The prison was retiled, and given new toilets, showers, and a new medical center was added" (Hersh 42).

The new compound was now under the coalition's control. By the fall, there were "several thousand prisoners including men, women, and teenagers, most of whom were civilians that were picked up in random military sweeps or at highway check points. The prisoners were categorized into either common criminals, security detainees that were suspected of crimes against the coalition, or suspected top leaders of revolt groups against the coalition" (42).

General Janis Karpinski was named commander of the 800th Military Police Brigade and put in charge of the prison. She was the only female commander in the war zone, an experienced operations and intelligence officer that served with the Special Forces in the Gulf War, but she had no experience in running a prison system. She was now in charge of three large jails, eight battalions, and 3,400 Army reservists, most of whom had no training with handling prisoners or prisons themselves.

In January 2003, Sergeant Joseph Darby released a CD and letter to the US Army Criminal Investigation Command, which triggered this whole investigation. The CD contained pictures of the "prisoners naked and arranged in position to simulate sexual acts, clumsily pile in pyramid like statues; and even used military K-9's to threaten, one soldier even stood over a dead prisoner, all the while smiling and giving a thumbs up to the camera" (43).

To follow up Darby's evidence, investigations were ordered by Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez. Provost Marshall Donald Ryder, another Major General and one of the Army's chief law-enforcement officers, reviewed the prison system in November. In his report he concluded that some of the procedures were flawed, but no military police units purposely applied inappropriate confinement practices. It is said that his investigation was a cover-up for the Army and the Government.

Major General Antonio Taguba conducted a month long investigation



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