Report: Rumsfeld authorized program to investigate Iraqi detainees
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld authorized the expansion of a secret program that encouraged physical coercion and sexual humiliation of Iraqi detainees to obtain intelligence about the growing resistanced in Iraq, The New Yorker reported Saturday.
The Defense Department strongly denied these claims, which cited unnamed current and former intelligence officials and was published on the magazine's Web site. Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita issued a statement calling the claims "outlandish, conspiratorial, and filled with error and anonymous conjecture."
The story, written by reporter Seymour Hersh, said Rumsfeld decided to expand the program during 2003, broadening a Pentagon operation from the hunt for al-Qaeda in Afghanistan to interrogation of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad.
According to the story, which hits newsstands Monday, the initial operation Rumsfeld authorized gave blanket approval to kill or capture and interrogate "high value" targets in the war on "terrorism."
The program got approval from President Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, and Bush was informed of its existence, the officials told the magazine.
Last year, Rumsfeld and Stephen Cambone, his undersecretary for intelligence, expanded the scope of the Pentagon's program and brought its methods to Abu Ghraib, Hersh wrote. (Albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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