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Monday, July 12, 2004

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 'Wow, there [are] a lot of nude people here.'

How did the mess at Abu Ghraib happen? Was it, as the Bush administration says, the work of just a few rogue soldiers, a few bad apples? Or did some senior military leaders, despite their denials, know what was going on inside the prison walls late at night?

US News is reporting that the most compelling evidence of what happened is contained in a report completed in March by General Taguba. The magazine has obtained all 106 classified annexes to the report, and the several thousand pages of material provide the most comprehensive view yet of what went wrong at Abu Ghraib and in the Army's management of the teeming prison system in Iraq after Saddam Hussein's government was toppled.

Taguba found, the report says, "sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses." The place, the documents suggest, was bedlam. Lt. Col. Steven Jordan, the senior military intelligence officer in the prison, noted that in one 18-hour period he had had to deal with two soldiers abusing a prisoner, another soldier being sexually propositioned by an officer, and a third sick and vomiting in her room after drinking too much alcohol. He also worried, he testified, that "hookers" were living in some bunks.

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