WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Army on Friday replaced Maj. Gen. George Fay with a more senior general as chief investigator of military intelligence practices at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
The new lead investigator is Lt. Gen. Anthony R. Jones, deputy commander of the Army Training and Doctrine Command. Army officials said the decision to put Jones in charge was not a reflection on Fay's performance but an effort to resolve a protocol issue in the investigation.
At issue was the need to interview Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez as part of the investigation. Sanchez is the top American commander in Iraq, and the Army wanted a lead investigator who was at least equal in rank to the three-star Sanchez. Fay is a two-star. Jones technically is senior to Sanchez because he has held his three-star rank slightly longer.
Fay will remain part of the investigating team, the Army said in announcing Jones' appointment.
The investigation began on March 31 and is expected to be completed in July. It is focused on the role of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade in the reported abuses of prisoners at Abu Ghraib last fall.
An earlier Army investigation that focused on the role of military police at Abu Ghraib found that between October and December 2003 there were numerous incidents of ``sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses'' of several prisoners. That investigation, led by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, recommended that an additional investigation look at the role of military intelligence.
The military intelligence personnel were in charge of interrogations at Abu Ghraib.
In his report, Taguba said he suspected that Col. Thomas M. Pappas, commander of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, and Lt. Col. Steve L. Jordan, who headed the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center at Abu Ghraib at the time, were among those ``directly or indirectly responsible'' for the abuses, which included sexual humiliation and physical beatings.
Six military police soldiers face charges in the abuse scandal; one other has pleaded guilty and been sentenced to one year in prison. No military intelligence personnel have been charged.
Last week the Army named a four-star general, Paul Kern, as ``appointing authority'' with oversight responsibility for the Fay investigation and said Kern would decide whether to keep Fay as chief investigator.
Kern's role is to ensure that the probe is completed, review the final report and pass it to the most senior military officer with authority in Iraq, Gen. John Abizaid, commander of Central Command, for possible action.
In a related development, the Senate announced that it confirmed the Army's vice chief of staff, Gen. George Casey, as commander of all U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq, replacing Sanchez.
Sanchez is expected to return to Germany, his headquarters as commander of the Army's 5th Corps. At one recent point the Pentagon intended to nominate Sanchez for a fourth star and make him commander of Southern Command, based in Miami, but Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld decided his connection to the Abu Ghraib investigation would stall the nomination. So he chose to recommend Lt. Gen. Bantz Craddock for nomination to the Southern Command post instead.
Lt. Gen. Richard Cody was confirmed by the Senate to replace Casey as the Army vice chief of staff.