WASHINGTON - The Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday singled out former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, former Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard Myers and other top aides for approving inhumane interrogation techniques that were used on detainees at Guantanamo, sites in Afghanistan and at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
U.S. abuses against detainees led to attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq, according to testimony by the former general counsel of the Navy, Alberto Mora. "There are serving U.S. flag-rank officers who maintain that the first and second identifiable causes of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq -- as judged by their effectiveness in recruiting insurgent fighters into combat -- are, respectively, the symbols of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo," Mora testified.
The long-awaited report said the techniques used were "based, in part, on Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to elicit false confessions" from captured American prisoners and adapted for use against U.S. detainees.
Instructors from the Pentagon agency that trains soldiers in resisting such treatment were sent to Guantanamo, Afghanistan and Iraq to assist in adopting the methods, it said.
The abusive techniques -- waterboarding, nudity, stress positions, exploiting phobias and treating detainees "like animals" -- were "at odds with the commitment to humane treatment of detainees in U.S. custody" and inconsistent with the goal of collecting accurate information, the report concluded.
Rice was at meetings
It traced the abusive practices to President George W. Bush's written determination in February 2002 that the 1949 Geneva Conventions didn't apply to suspected al-Qaida and Taliban detainees. Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser, and other Cabinet officers took part in meetings where specific interrogation techniques were discussed, the report said.
The report, which took 18 months to compile, said that Rumsfeld's authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques for use at Guantanamo Bay "was a direct cause of detainee abuse there." His approval of a memo from Pentagon General Counsel William J. Haynes "contributed to the use of abusive techniques," including using military dogs, forced nudity and stress positions in Afghanistan and Iraq, it said.
According to an executive summary of the report, the commander at Guantanamo, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, who introduced the techniques, ignored warnings from Pentagon and FBI investigators that the techniques were "potentially unlawful" and that their use would strengthen detainee resistance.
The report also charged Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top commander in Iraq, with a "serious error in judgment" for approving the use of military working dogs and stress positions, which it said were "a direct cause of detainee abuse in Iraq."
It's not clear whether the committee's report and recommendations will lead to legal proceedings against any of the officials identified, or whether the incoming Obama administration will pursue allegations of possible crimes committed during the administration's battle against terror
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