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Where Abu Ghraib Abuses Began

Wednesday, October 20, 2004; Page A26

The Oct. 15 editorial "Remember Abu Ghraib?" repeated an incorrect assertion that "policy decisions about interrogations . . . led directly to the abuse of prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq." Several investigations into the situation at Abu Ghraib found that this was not the case.

Former defense secretary James R. Schlesinger led an independent investigation and stated on Aug. 24 that "there was no policy of abuse" that led to the activities at Abu Ghraib.

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Another panel member, former defense secretary Harold Brown, noted that same day that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld "was extremely careful about the issue of treatment of prisoners during interrogation."

A third panelist, retired Air Force Gen. Charles A. Horner, added, "If there's something to be commended on this whole operation, it's the way the secretary of defense has approached the investigations."

Additionally, the Army's investigation into the role of intelligence activities at Abu Ghraib, led by Gen. Paul J. Kern, concluded: "No policy, directive or doctrine directly or indirectly caused violent or sexual abuse. . . . Soldiers knew they were violating the approved techniques and procedures."

The record shows that the Defense Department acted promptly and appropriately in investigating allegations of abuses at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. The U.S. military -- not journalists -- first publicized the facts of the abuses at Abu Ghraib in January. It was the military's subsequent investigations that unearthed almost all of the disturbing details and photographs used by critics to castigate this department.

Investigations continue, and more information will be disclosed, but thus far these investigations have determined that no responsible official of the Defense Department approved any program that could conceivably have been intended to result in such abuses as seen at Abu Ghraib.


Pentagon Spokesman


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