Image: Jim Miklasszewski
By Jim Miklaszewski Chief Pentagon correspondent
NBC News
updated 8/10/2004 7:47:32 PM ET 2004-08-10T23:47:32

NBC News has learned a military investigation into prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison now implicates military intelligence officers in addition to military police already charged.

Pentagon sources tell NBC News the investigation by Maj. Gen. George Fay recommends punitive action, which could include criminal charges against several military intelligence officers who were at least aware of the abuse.

At a pre-trial hearing for Pfc. Lynndie England last week there was direct testimony by a military intelligence officer that three intelligence officers were present during the abuse of three prisoners at Abu Ghraib. The officer testified he was summoned to the cellblock to, "see something cool."

Photos show the prisoners stripped naked, handcuffed and forced to simulate sex acts. At least one intelligence officer is seen throwing a toy football at the prisoners.

Generally, under military law, the failure to halt or report illegal activity could be considered dereliction of duty.

"I think that the law would assume that a commissioned officer would report an offense that takes place before his or her eyes," says military law expert Eugene Fidell.

Lynndie England's attorney claims the MPs who carried out the abuses were only following orders.

Slideshow: Abu Ghraib images "They were given orders by military intelligence to soften up or rough up detainees to make them more accessible to interrogation methods," says attorney Rick Hernandez.

But Gen. Fay's investigation reportedly found otherwise. Pentagon sources report there was apparently no evidence the abuses at Abu Ghraib were part of any interrogations intended to  gather military intelligence.

The sources report, however, that Gen. Fay says the ultimate responsibility for the lack of discipline at the prison goes all the way to the top military commander in Iraq at the time, Gen. Ricardo Sanchez.

But Gen. Fay's report will not be the last word. Three other investigations into the prisoner abuse scandal are still pending.

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