Skeptics assail Church report absolving Pentagon leadership for abuses Bernard Hibbitts at 9:26 AM ET
[JURIST] Skeptics on and off Capitol Hill Thursday assailed a new report on military interrogation practices authored by US Navy chief of staff and former Inspector General Admiral Albert T. Church that effectively concluded that the Pentagon's civilian and military leadership was not to blame for abuses of prisoners by US personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan. The accountability of senior officials was not the focus of the report, but Church said that he had no evidence to suggest that senior officials encouraged or pressured lower-level officers to do anything that would have resulted in the abuses which occured, for which he offered no explanation. Democratic members of the Senate Armed Services Committee [official website] before which Church testified Thursday morning suggested that having someone in the military chain of command investigating the accountability of higher-ups in the same chain of command was problematic, and that there was therefore a need for an independent investigation. They also insisted that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld take responsibility for creating an environment where abuses were possible and did in fact occur. Republicans sought to defend the military and the legitimacy of Church's conclusions. Human rights groups meanwhile expressed concern at the report, with Amnesty International calling for it to be published in full (only the 21-page executive summary [DOD text, PDF] is publicly available) and similarly pressed for an independent probe. Read the Amnesty International press release on the report. The Defense Department has posted a transcript of a Thursday afternoon Pentagon briefing with Admiral Church. AP has more.
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