Abu Ghraib: Army Opens Intelligence Inquiry
• Army takes next step to determine responsibility in scandal involving translator from Canyon Country.

By Leon Worden
Signal City Editor

Saturday, June 5, 2004

Womack photo
This photo, provided to The Associated Press by attorney Guy L. Womack, purportedly shows unidentified Army intelligence personnel — cited as Nos. 4, 5, 7 and 8 — interrogating an Iraqi detainee at Abu Ghraib prison last fall. Womack's client, Spc. Charles A. Graner Jr., faces criminal abuse charges and is identified here as No. 1. AP/Courtesy of Guy L. Womack
hree months after it completed its investigation of military police at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, the Army has launched a full investigation of the military intelligence personnel who oversaw them, an official at coalition headquarters in Baghdad told The Signal on Friday.
    Brig. Gen. George R. Fay "is conducting a 15-6 investigation into military intelligence operations," said Lt. Beatriz Yarrish of U.S. Central Command.
    Army Regulation 15-6 is a formal inquiry, and comes on the heels of reports that Fay was looking into questionable intelligence activities at U.S.-run prisons throughout Iraq. It is the same type of investigation Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba conducted into the activities of MPs at the prison after allegations of prisoner abuse were reported to the Army in January. Taguba's inquiry resulted in charges being filed against seven MPs.
    Taguba completed his investigation of the 800th Military Police Brigade in March and recommended an additional inquiry into the activities of personnel attached to the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, which ran the prison operations.
    Specifically, he recommended a formal inquiry to determine the culpability of two officers and two civilian intelligence contractors — one of whom is a prison translator from Canyon Country, John B. Israel.
    Fay's inquiry is the follow-up to that recommendation.
    Yarrish declined further comment.
    "We will not discuss or comment on ongoing investigations," she said.
Col. Pappas
A spokeswoman for Col. Thomas M. Pappas, commander of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, told The Signal on Friday that he is reserving comment pending "final determination from much higher authority."
    Col. Thomas M. Pappas, commander of the 205th MI Brigade, now stationed in Germany, declined to answer The Signal's questions about Israel, who was subordinate to him in the chain of command.
    "Although it may be difficult to accept," Capt. Kathleen Melanson wrote on Pappas' behalf, "the integrity of the investigative process has to be respected and honored, as the intent of the process is to identify the entire spectrum of facts, not just segments. From my level, I am committed to allowing the natural course of the investigative process to take place and can only await final determination from much higher authority."
    The four men alleged by Taguba to have been "directly or indirectly responsible for the abuses at Abu Ghraib" are Pappas, Israel, Lt. Col. Steve L. Jordan and civilian interrogator Steven Stephanowicz.
    Fay's investigation should detail their activities — although its findings may not be known for some time. Taguba's report was leaked to the press.
* * *
    Central Command wouldn't say why the Army rejected a request to compel Israel's testimony at an April 9 hearing for Sgt. Javal Davis, one of the seven Army reserve guards to face criminal charges. It also wouldn't say whether the Army will comply with a similar request at Davis' upcoming court-martial.
    A spokesman for U.S. Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, who represents Israel's home district, said that "a number of these civilian contractor cases have been referred to the DOJ (Department of Justice) to be prosecuted." He said the congressman does not know whether any case specifically involves his constituent.
    McKeon, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, "(believes this) must be handled with the greatest sensitivity to the judicial process. He is very serious about getting to the bottom of this and will continue to actively monitor the case as the investigation unfolds," spokesman Vartan Djihanian said.
    Israel's attorney, Christopher A. Darden, has rebuffed all questions since Israel hired him late last week.
* * *
    The Signal has identified a second prison translator who worked under contract for the same intelligence company that employed Israel. The second translator also questioned Iraqi detainees last year and, like Israel, belongs to an Arab Christian minority ethnic group.
    Bruce Crowell, chief financial officer for the intelligence company, SOS Interpreting Ltd. of New York, terminated a phone call before he could be asked whether SOS made a point of hiring persecuted Iraqi diaspora for prison translation work in predominantly Muslim Iraq.
    SOS has refused to discuss its hiring practices and no other SOS translators have surfaced.
    The second translator, a computer programmer and U.S. citizen, is not a suspect in the prison abuse scandal.
    Contacted Thursday, she refused to discuss her employment with SOS and wouldn't say whether she knew Israel.
    The second translator is affiliated with an Assyrian-American organization that counts Rep. Anna G. Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, among its supporters.
    Eshoo is the sole Assyrian-American member of Congress and has been a member of the House Intelligence Committee since January 2003. In 1996, Eshoo outlined the plight of Iraqi Assyrians in a letter to former President Clinton:
    "I write to request your assistance in obtaining and securing aid for the Assyrian communities and villages in northern Iraq," Eshoo wrote. "Assyrians have endured centuries of persecution because of their ethnicity and faith, and today suffer the same brutality under Saddam Hussein as do the Kurds. Yet because they do not have the same world recognition, Assyrians receive very little humanitarian aid that goes to the region..."
    In 2002 she urged Secretary of State Colin Powell to include Assyrians in pre-war meetings with Iraqi groups.
    "Assyrians make up approximately 2 million of the 22 million citizens of Iraq, they are Christians, and they are ethnically dissimilar from all the representatives that were invited to (a previous) meeting," she wrote.
    Eshoo voted against President Bush's Iraq war resolution and against the $87 billion war appropriation.
    She did not return several calls Friday.

    Correction 6/10/2004: Although Army officials in Baghdad identifed George R. Fay as a brigadier (one-star) general for this story, a senior Pentagon spokesman later said is is a major (two-star) general.