Army investigators have recommended bringing abuse-related charges against 26 soldiers stemming from a probe into the deaths of two detainees in Afghanistan in December 2002, Pentagon officials tell the Washington Post. The cases, involving the two deaths and other incidents at the big U.S. base in Bagram, Afghanistan, represent an attempt to assign criminal responsibility for abuse of detainees that occurred well before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and the subsequent scandal over the maltreatment of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad. The Afghanistan charges recommended by Army investigators and prosecutors, after an investigation that more than a year, range from negligent homicide to less serious offenses such as dereliction of duty and failure to report an offense, two Army officers familiar with the case said. One sergeant has already been charged, officials said.
The results of the investigation raise the possibility that the number of soldiers facing charges for abuse in Afghanistan could approach that of soldiers ultimately charged with maltreatment of prisoners in Iraq. Seven military police soldiers have been charged in the scandal at Abu Ghraib. Last week, Army investigators concluded that an additional 30 soldiers and contractors had participated in the abuse there, and 11 others faced possible charges or discipline for not reporting what they saw. Decisions on charges for any of those people have not been made.