The actual abuses at Abu Ghraib may have been the work of a few GIs, but excerpts of a report obtained exclusively by NBC News found failures of leadership from the prison to the Pentagon and said many must share some of the blame.
The report was commissioned by the Pentagon and authored by former Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger. It specifically says Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, head of the MPs at the prison — who called herself a scapegoat who got little or no support from her higher-ups and who was already relieved of her command — and Col. Thomas Pappas of Military Intelligence at the prison — who has refused to comment — both knew or ought to have known what was going on.
The report also issues a scathing rebuke of the leadership at senior officer levels — including Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, then in charge in Iraq — for not responding to key flaws in prison manpower and policy.
The investigative report does not stop there. It throws blame at the Pentagon — from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Secretary of Defense — saying they all share some burden of responsibility for not sending guard reinforcements to the prison despite a growing insurgency.
Defense lawyers for the accused MPs say they are not surprised by any of this.
"Now it would be laughable for someone to conclude that these seven MPs acted with no direction from above," says Guy Womack, representing Army Specialist Charles A. Graner Jr.
The report does not say that, but it does show flaws in training and staffing at Abu Ghraib.
Defense attorneys argued at a pre-trial hearing in Germany Monday that this report and others will prove that what happened at Abu Ghraib was known long before that night in November when the now infamous pictures were taken.