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Army Adds Stars to Intelligence Inquiry
Four-star general to decide who will lead investigation of intelligence personnel at Abu Ghraib prison.
By Leon Worden
Signal City Editor
Friday, June 18, 2004
Gen. Paul J. Kern will review Maj. Gen. George R. Fay's inquiry into questionable intelligence practices at Abu Ghraib prison and possibly replace him with a higher-ranking officer. US Army photo
ut with a three-star general whose veracity has been questioned, in with a four-star general who has stayed away from the fray.
Heeding calls to turn up the heat, the Army has made a mid-course adjustment to its investigation of intelligence practices at Abu Ghraib prison.
Acting Army Secretary Les Brownlee announced Wednesday that he has appointed Gen. Paul J. Kern, head of the Army's procurement system, to oversee the ongoing inquiry of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade. Kern, in turn, is expected to name a new chief investigator.
Two senior officers and two civilian contractors assigned to the 205th, including John B. Israel, an Iraqi-American translator from Canyon Country, are suspected of sharing responsibility for the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib last fall.
The investigation of the 205th is the Army's second full-blown inquiry into the abuse scandal.
The first, conducted by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, focused on the lowest echelon at the prison the military police brigade that was supposed to secure and protect the prisoners. The inquiry led to criminal charges against seven MP guards, and Taguba recommended a second inquiry to determine the degree to which Israel and other intelligence personnel were culpable.
Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the three-star general who appointed Taguba, put another two-star general, George R. Fay, in charge of the intelligence investigation.
Fay's appointment drew fire both inside and outside the government when fingers started pointing at Sanchez. Fay, an Army reservist who sits on the board of an insurance company in civilian life, was perceived to lack sufficient authority to follow the trail of responsibility up the chain of command.
Last week, Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, asked Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to approve Sanchez's request to be recused from his duties as the "appointing officer" the person who appoints the chief investigator.
Kern is Sanchez's replacement. Head of the Army Materiel Command at Ft. Belvoir, Va., Kern will likely remove Fay from the hot seat, although it isn't a certainty.
"Gen. Kern may retain Maj. Gen. George R. Fay as the investigating officer or may appoint another officer after reviewing the current status of the initial investigation," the statement said.
As for Sanchez, the Army is in full retreat from him. On Tuesday the Pentagon announced that Sanchez will be replaced as the commander of coalition forces in Iraq following the June 30 transfer of power to the new Iraqi government. As recently as one month ago, Sanchez was expected to keep his command when Coalition Joint Task Force-7 becomes Multinational Force-Iraq (MNFI) in July.
Sanchez, who put the 205th in charge of operations at Abu Ghraib in November, has come under increasing scrutiny. In Senate testimony May 19 he denied ever seeing, much less authorizing, special interrogation rules for Abu Ghraib. The rules, posted on the prison walls, called for Sanchez's personal approval whenever interrogators wanted to use military dogs, keep prisoners in isolation longer than 30 days, or deprive them of food or sleep.
Sanchez's removal from the investigation clears the way for him to be questioned without a direct conflict of interest.
Pentagon officials anticipate the naming of a new chief investigator who out-ranks Sanchez possibly another three-star general with higher seniority.
Kern will still lead Army procurement. Reviewing the intelligence investigation is an additional duty, a Pentagon spokesman said.
Kern is a 1967 West Point graduate with a master's degree in engineering from the University of Michigan. He served two combat tours in Vietnam, led a brigade in the 1991 Gulf War, commanded the 4th Infantry Division and was the senior military assistant to former Defense Secretary William Perry.
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