These actions were the result of huge command failures. The senior person charged thus far is Ivan L. Frederick, a staff sergeant. In an MP company, a person of his rank is normally placed in charge of a squad of 11 soldiers. I refuse to believe that no leader above Frederick was aware of or complicit in the abuses that were apparently widespread throughout the prison.
And it turns out you can only fool most of the people some of the time:
That’s a reversal from a week ago.
Of course, the question as phrased posed a false alternative. As Gen. Taguba’s testimony makes clear, they almost certainly weren’t “following orders” given by anyone with the lawful authority to give them, and no one had the lawful authority to order what was actually done at Abu Ghraib. But the soldiers were doing what they thought others above them in rank wanted them to do; they weren’t “acting on their own.”