Rumsfeld: Abuse not as bad as terror

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is denying he fostered an environment that led to the prisoner-abuse scandal in Iraq and claimed the military’s mishandling of inmates was not as bad as what the terrorists have done, according to a report in The Washington Post.

“Does it rank up there with chopping someone’s head off on television?” he said. “It doesn’t.”

Rumsfeld said he did authorize harsher interrogation methods for terrorist suspects but claimed these rules were meant only for the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and had nothing to do with Iraq.

Critics have been saying for months that the ultimate responsibility for the abuse scandal may rest with the White House and the Pentagon. They created confusion when they decided in 2002 that prisoners at Guantanamo Bay did not come under provisions of the Geneva Convention and then tried to change long-time rules of detention, interrogation and trials to suit the “war against terrorism.”

Appearing at the National Press Club, Rumsfeld was asked if he contributed to a climate that led to prisoner abuse. He said he approved two new techninques for Guantanamo but later rescinded them because military officers questioned them. Rumsfeld said he assembled some lawyers to study the subject.

Rumsfeld told the assembled press that the procedures “were not torture” and were intended for use on only two people.

Pentagon investigations in recent months, however, have found about 300 allegations of prisoners killed, raped, beaten and victimized by other mistreatment at U.S. prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay since the anti-terror campaign began.

Rumsfeld reeled off a long list of statistics in support of his argument, saying there have been 11 investigations into such abuse, 950 people interviewed, 45 referred for courts-martial and 23 soldiers discharged from the service.

“The people who’ve done something wrong are being prosecuted, the investigations are still underway…and corrective steps have been taken,” Rumsfeld said.

Source: The Washington Post

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