More than 48 hours after U.S. bombs killed scores, perhaps hundreds, of Iraqi civilians in outer Baghdad, the Pentagon provided no further evidence yesterday on the character of the building in which they died.

The central controversy between the U.S. and Iraqi governments -- whether the structure was an active command and control bunker or an air raid shelter for civilians -- remained unsettled by any information open to independent review. The available evidence, as presented in official and unofficial U.S. accounts and in television footage broadcast from Baghdad, remained consistent with each side's assertions about the capabilities and purposes of the facility.

Moreover, there was nothing in the Pentagon's account to rule out the possibility that the building may have served both functions at once.

Although no evidence emerged to suggest that U.S. planners knew of the presence of civilians at the time they ordered the bombing, neither were facts disclosed to support Pentagon senior operations officer Lt. Gen. Thomas Kelly's belief that the Iraqi government cynically placed civilians there in danger, against the rules of war set out in the Geneva conventions.

In particular, officials provided no further details on two critical questions they agreed to elaborate on after Wednesday's official briefing. First, what evidence did they have that the facility not only was capable of transmitting, but did transmit, military communications? Second, even if the facility functioned as a communications and command center, did they know whether and when it had ceased to function as an air raid shelter?

U.S. officials acknowledged within hours of the bombing that their target had been built as a bomb shelter in the early days of the Iran-Iraq war. But Navy Capt. David Herrington, director of current intelligence for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said it was "converted to a military command and control facility." Other officials said a Scandinavian contractor made the necessary modifications in 1985.

Command and control does not describe a particular kind of facility, but rather is the term of art for any headquarters capable of receiving information from the field and conveying orders. It may refer to anything from a desk with a telephone to an elaborate complex equipped with maps, computers and communications networks.

Herrington and Kelly said Wednesday that the demolished building served as a command post and not a bomb shelter because of these characteristics:It had a barbed-wire fence and bars on its doors, which Kelly said he found "strange for an air raid shelter, since you want ingress to be fairly free." Its roof was camouflaged, and was the only such camouflaged roof in the neighborhood. The building's exterior walls and roof had been reinforced with thick concrete and steel plates, and its communications equipment had been "hardened" against the electromagnetic pulse that accompanies a nuclear explosion and can wipe out such equipment.

But independent analysts said there was nothing in that description to disprove the Iraqi assertion that the building was a shelter against air attack, especially if the shelter was built for Iraqi leaders and their families.

A congressional official with access to classified information said Soviet-style bunkers for the Iraqi elite would naturally include some barriers to casual entry because ordinary citizens would not be welcome. Reinforced walls, the official said, would protect civilians seeking shelter as well as military commanders. And secure communications, the official said, would be desirable in any place where Iraqi leaders spent time.

Baath Party functionaries, for example, "would want to be able to communicate with the provinces," the official said.

Neither Kelly nor Herrington made clear what camouflage paint meant in the context of a block-long building in a suburban neighborhood. No Western journalists there said they observed such camouflage. Some officials, asked for elaboration, said the paint appeared designed to disguise the building's purpose. Others, however, said it simulated damage from bombs.

In Baghdad yesterday, Iraqi officials for the second time brought U.S. journalists to the bombing scene with an invitation to "go anywhere we wished in the shelter," according to an account broadcast on Cable News Network by correspondent Peter Arnett.

The lowest level of the building, Arnett reported, had dressing and decontamination rooms and showers. "There seemed to be no lower level than that to the shelter," he said, in a report subject to Iraqi censorship. "There was no sign of any use of the shelter other than for civilian use."

U.S. officials expressed skepticism of the televised accounts, citing not only Iraqi censorship but the time, as much as eight hours, that elapsed between the bombing and the arrival of television crews.

"You give me a couple of days and I'll take you back into the NMCC {the Pentagon's National Military Command Center} and you'll think you're in a chocolate factory," Kelly said.

In the end, according to one senior official, the American public would have to decide which government they trust more.

"The easiest way to get off the hot seat is to say, 'Here's how we know' " the building was used for important military communications, the official said. "We can't do that. Lives depend on the information. There's some stuff we just can't tell you."