Brigadier Janis Karpinski, who oversaw 17 Iraqi prisons including Abu Ghraib, said the reservists jailed to date did not devise techniques such as stacking up naked prisoners or forcing them to masturbate.
"I don't think that any of them had a fair opportunity. I will never change my position on that," she said.
"I guarantee you that none of those soldiers knew enough about the Arab culture to be able to say this is the right thing that we should do," she said."
"Somebody who was very familiar with what would work told them how to do those things."
Since the prison scandal broke last year, six soldiers have admitted abusing Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Another, Charles Graner, contended he was following orders to soften up prisoners, but a military court rejected that line and sentenced him to 10 years in prison.
"Look, I am not defending any of them," Karpinski said. "There were some things that they did wrong, they crossed the line. What I am saying for them is fair and equal."
"Graner's sentence is 10 years. Soldiers that were responsible for actually a prisoner's death … have been simply removed from the military. In some cases it was a reduction in rank."
Karpinski said she was in the dark about abuses and denied any personal involvement.
Now suspended from her command of the 800th Military Police brigade in Iraq, Karpinski is writing a book on Abu Ghraib prison.