Thursday, December 11, 2008

Will Senate report lead to punishment for Bush administration officials?

That fact that a secret U.S. Senate report on abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, blames former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other top senior U.S. officials does not absolve Congress of responsibility. While portions of the report released Thursday by the Senate Armed Services Committee names Rumsfield, President George W. Bush, Gen. Richard Myers (head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) and other top officials, U.S. residents know that their representatives in Congress -- House and Senate, Republican and Democrat -- largely went along with what the administration was doing. With few exceptions, legislators in the top leadership posts of both parties consulted with administration officials -- often secretly -- and signed on to some of the most odious practices championed by the White House. The summary blames Bush administration officials, notably Rumsfeld, for authorizing waterboarding and other aggressive interrogation techniques on Dec. 2, 2002, according to the New York Times. Even though Rumsfeld rescinded that authorization six weeks later, the summary says, prisoner abuse "was not simply the result of a few soldiers acting on their own" but grew out of policies that "conveyed the message that physical pressures and degradation were appropriate treatment for detainees." The summary was released Thursday by leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee -- Sens. Carl Levin of Michigan and John McCain of Arizona, the Times said. The report itself remains classified.

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