updated 5/11/2004 3:42:48 PM ET 2004-05-11T19:42:48

The opening statement of Army Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, the military officer who first investigated prisoner abuse in an Iraqi prison, before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

I am Major General Antonio Taguba, the deputy commanding general for support, Army Central Command and Combined Forces Land Component Command, that is headquartered in Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.

On 24 January, 2004, I was directed by Lieutenant General David McKiernan, the commanding general, ARCENT/CFLCC, to conduct an investigation into the allegations of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib Prison, which is also known as the Baghdad Central Confinement Facility.

And I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the purpose, the findings and the recommendation of that investigation.

The purpose of the investigation with specific instructions were as follows: first, inquire into all of the facts and circumstances surrounding the recent allegations of the detainee abuse, specifically allegations of maltreatment at the Abu Ghraib Prison.

Second, inquire into detainee escapes and accountability lapses as reported by CJTF-7, specifically allegations concerning these events at the Abu Ghraib Prison.

Third, investigate the training, the standards, employment, command policies, internal procedures, and command climate in the 800 M.P. Brigade as appropriate.

And finally, make specific findings of facts concerning all aspects of this investigation and make recommendations for corrective action as appropriate.

My investigation team consisted of officers and senior enlisted personnel for our military policemen, experts in detention and corrections, judge advocates, psychiatrists and public affairs officers.

At the onset, I did not have military intelligence officers or experts in military interrogation in my team because the scope of my investigation dealt principally with detention operations and not intelligence-gathering or interrogations operations.

However, during the course of my team's investigation, we gathered evidence pertaining to the involvement of several military intelligence personnel or contractors assigned to the 205th M.I. Brigade and the alleged detainee abuses at Abu Ghraib.

As stated in the findings of the investigation, we recommended that a separate investigation be initiated under the provisions of procedure 15, Army regulation 381-10, concerning possible improper interrogation practices in this case.

Again, my task was limited to the allegations of detainee abuse involving M.P. personnel and the policies, procedures and command climate of the 800th M.P. Brigade.

As I assembled the investigation team, my specific instructions to my teammates were clear: maintain our objectivity and integrity throughout the course of our mission in what I considered to be a very grave, highly sensitive and serious situation; to be mindful of our personal values and the moral values of our nation; and to maintain the Army values in all of our dealings; and to be complete, thorough and fair in the course of the investigation.

Bottom line: We will follow our conscience and do what is morally right.

As agonizing as this investigation was, I commend the exceptional professionalism of my teammates, their extraordinary efforts and the outstanding manner by which they carried out my instructions.

I also commend the courage and selfless service of those soldiers and sailors who brought these allegations to light, discovered evidence of abuse, and turned it over to the military law enforcement authorities.

The criminal acts of a few stand in stark contrast to the high professionalism, competence and moral integrity of countless active, Guard and Army Reserve soldiers that we encountered in this investigation.

At the end of the day, a few soldiers and civilians conspired to abuse and conduct egregious acts of violence against detainees and other civilians outside the bounds of international law and the Geneva Convention.

Their incomprehensible acts, caught in their own personal record of photographs and video clips, have seriously maligned and impugned the courageous acts of thousands of U.S. and coalition forces.

It put into question the reputation of our nation and the reputation of those who continue to serve in uniform, and who would willingly sacrifice their lives to safeguard our freedom.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak before you today. I look forward to answering your questions. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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