General Blames Intel For Abuse

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, center left, accompanied by U.S. Brig Gen. Janice Karpinski, left, tours Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison on the outskirts of the capital Baghdad in this July 20, 2003 file photo. AP (file)

The top U.S. military officer said Sunday that the United States military does not use torture, even as a U.S. Army Reserve general says Army military intelligence officers encouraged or directed the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says "categorically" that "there is no evidence of systematic abuse" in the U.S. detention operations in the region.

"We review all the interrogation methods. Torture is not one of the methods that we're allowed to use and that we use," Gen. Richard Myers said in a broadcast interview on Sunday. "I mean, it's just not permitted by international law, and we don't use it."

Myers noted on CBS News' Face The Nation that he has not seen a three-month-old U.S. military report on the abuse because it is working its way up the chain of command. "I'll see this report. I'm sure it just hasn't come to me yet."

Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski tells the New York Times that military intelligence officers controlled the cellblock where the prisoners were held and encouraged or directed the abuse.

Karpinski, the Army Reserve general whose soldiers were photographed abusing Iraqi prisoners, says she didn't know about the torture until after it occurred.

She tells the Washington Post that a team of intelligence officers from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba arrived a month before the abuse started. Their mission was to teach new interrogation techniques, she says.

An internal Army report found that Iraqi detainees were subjected to "sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses" at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, according to The New Yorker magazine, which said it obtained a copy of the report.

The abuses at the prison included threats of rape and the pouring of cold water and liquid from chemical lights on detainees, according to the published account.

Some photos, , showed two U.S. soldiers standing near the prisoners, smiling and clowning for the camera.

Karpinski says she was "sickened" by the photos and believes the culprits are "bad people" who deserve punishment.

"The suggestion that this was done with my knowledge and continued with my knowledge is so far from the truth," she tells the Times. "I wasn't aware of any of this. I'm horrified by this."

The internal report by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba found that reservist military police at the prison were urged by Army military officers and CIA agents to "set physical and mental conditions for favorable interrogation of witnesses," the New Yorker reports in its May 10 issue.

Karpinski was formally admonished in January and suspended from command while being investigated, The New Yorker reported.

Karpinski told The New York Times that she believed military commanders were trying to shift the blame for the abuses from military intelligence officers in Iraq to the reservists.

"We're disposable," she said of the military's attitude toward reservists. "Why would they want the active-duty people to take the blame? They want to put this on the M.P.'s and hope that this thing goes away. Well, it's not going to go away."

A senior U.S. military official in Baghdad responded to those comments by saying, "The very fact we are running an investigation concerning the interrogation procedures out there would indicate there are questions that have arisen as part of this investigation that leads us to other areas."

Six U.S. soldiers face courts-martial in the case. Myers said the six have been reassigned and are "essentially being detained while these investigations go forward."

Myers said in a broadcast interview that he had not seen the 53-page report by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba that the magazine said it obtained. "I cannot comment on the veracity of that report," Myers said.

But, echoing comments last week by President Bush, Myers said, "It's really a shame that just a handful can besmirch maybe the reputations of hundreds of thousands of our soldiers and sailors, airmen and Marines who've been over there."

Myers said the Army is trying to determine whether military guards were encouraged to use such tactics in order to make prisoners disclose more information during interrogations.

"We're looking into that part," Myers said. He said he would be "very surprised if there was somebody on the intelligence side saying, `Go do this,' because everybody knows that's wrong."

The Army investigation reportedly put a share of the blame for the abuses on military intelligence and private contractors.

The general said contractors help as translators but always are under military supervision. "They're never on their own," he said.

Meyers said the United States should try to assure Iraqis that those Americans responsible for the alleged abuses "will be brought to justice. And that's what they should expect from us."

Myers also said, "I think we'll overcome it," when asked about the effect of the scandal on U.S. efforts in Iraq.

British military police are also investigating allegations of abuse by British soldiers after the Daily Mirror newspaper published photos allegedly showing a hooded Iraqi prisoner who reportedly was beaten by British troops.

The London-based human rights watchdog Amnesty International said it has uncovered a "pattern of torture" of Iraqi prisoners by coalition troops, and called for an independent investigation into the claims of abuse.

In Iraq, a leading association of Sunni Muslim clerics called Sunday for an international investigation into the prisoner abuse allegations, and the country's interior minister demanded an Iraqi role in the running of all prisons.

The Associated Press reported last week that one of the six American soldiers facing court-martial wrote in a journal that his commanders ignored requests for rules of conduct and silenced his questions about harsh, humiliating treatment of inmates.

In a journal started after military investigators approached him in January, Army Reserves Staff Sgt. Ivan "Chip" Frederick wrote that Iraqi prisoners sometimes were confined naked for three straight days without toilets in damp, unventilated cells with floors 3 feet by 3 feet.

"I questioned some of the things that I saw ... such things as leaving inmates in their cell with no clothes or in females' underpants, handcuffing them to the door of their cell. I questioned this and the answer I got was, 'This is how military intelligence (MI) wants it done.' MI didn't want any of the inmates talking to each other. This is what happened when they were caught talking," Frederick wrote.

In an email provided to the Washington Post by Frederick's family, the soldier said he questioned some of the abuses. "I questioned this and the answer I got was: This is how military intelligence wants it done," the email says. "We have had a very high rate with our style of getting them to break," the email adds. "They usually end up breaking within hours."

"I hope that the incredible damage this situation has cause will be somewhat counterbalanced by the millions of acts of kindness and generosity and sacrifice that American soldiers have made in Iraq, for the Iraqi people," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Since photographs were televised last week of the treatment by military personnel of Iraqi prisoners, the subject has caused widespread revulsion and outrage not only among Iraqis but throughout the Arab countries.

"Everyone understands the phenomenal damage this accusation has caused in that part of the world," said Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden, ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

He was disturbed by the fact that Myers has not seen the report.

"I don't get the sense that they understand what an incredible sense of urgency there is here," Biden said.

"No one's going to believe in the Arab world, no one's going to believe in Europe, ... many people are not going to believe in the United States of America, that in fact we are earnest about this.

"This is the single most significant undermining act that's occurred in a decade in that region of the world in terms of our standing."

  • Jarrett Murphy

Comments

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Watch Now