A U.S. Army investigation has found that 27 members of a U.S. military intelligence unit at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad were directly involved in the abuse of Iraqi prisoners.
The findings released at the Pentagon say 23 members of the U.S. military and four contractors abused the detainees while another eight knew of the mistreatment and failed to report it.
General Paul Kern, the head of the investigation, said the abuses were the result of serious misconduct and a loss of moral values.
He said, "This was clearly a deviation from everything that we have taught people on how to behave. There were values that we treasure in the United States Army and in the United States that were not upheld in the report that we have turned in. That in itself is extremely troubling. There were failures of leadership, of people seeing these things and not correcting them."
The Army investigation also found eight Iraqis who were so-called "ghost-detainees," prisoners who were kept off the record books and therefore hidden from humanitarian organizations like the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The report says the U.S. military intelligence personnel and the contractors working with them committed 44 acts of prisoner abuse that could prompt administrative and criminal charges.
The investigators found that some of the abuses were committed by soldiers who were not clear on what techniques they could legally use on the prisoners.
General Kern said most of the violent or sexual abuses occurred separately from scheduled interrogations, and did not focus on people being held for intelligence purposes.
He said, "I think the most horrific one that we found, from my perspective, is the case of where MP (Military Police) dog andlers were subjecting two adolescents to terror from the dogs for the purposes of playing a game between the two og teams to see how poorly they could get these kids to behave. That specifically, to see if they could get their bowel ovements and their urination to work."
The Army investigation criticizes Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, the former top U.S. commander in Iraq, for eadership failures.
The report came a day after another panel released its findings on the abuse scandal, saying the Defense epartment's most senior civilian and military officials share a portion of the blame for what happened.
The panel said, however, there is no evidence of any Pentagon policy to abuse the detainees.
The reports come as criminal cases are being heard against six military police officers charged with abusing prisoners n Iraq.
One soldier has pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year in prison.