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U.S. works to calm prisoner abuse fallout
Updated: 2004-05-11 20:00

Americans can expect more shocking photos and searing public debate as the Bush administration works to calm the firestorm over U.S. soldiers' abuse of Iraqi prisoners.

Senators scheduled another hearing Tuesday with top military and intelligence officials, including Army Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, author of a Pentagon report that found numerous "sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses" at a U.S.-run prison complex near Baghdad.

Stephen Cambone, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, was among those scheduled to testify later in the day as the committee delved into "chain of command" issues in the prison abuse cases.

The hearing was set up Monday, to follow last Friday's, as the Pentagon agreed to disclose as-yet unreleased photos and at least one video to the Senate Armed Services Committee. The administration would not say whether it would allow the public to see them.

Senators and the Pentagon were working late Monday to determine when and under what circumstances lawmakers would view the material. It was part of what Taguba said were numerous photos and videotapes taken by troops of sessions of abuse at the Abu Ghraib complex.

A Democratic Senate aide, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the committee's chairman, Sen. John Warner, R-Va., and its ranking Democrat, Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, were asked to come up with a plan to allow senators to view the pictures and videos as early as Tuesday.

Warner has said he wants declassification of as much of the material as possible so that it can be shown to the American public. The Senate aide said the Pentagon will retain control over the material and decide how to handle further releases.

Any viewing by senators would be restricted to a secure room in the Capitol to protect against leaks that might violate the privacy of prisoners or endanger the prosecution of any military personnel charged in the case, according to several officials.

Still, several lawmakers said they expected the photos and videos eventually would become public.

"Sooner or later they're going to have to be released," said Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan. He predicted they would come out piecemeal if the administration does not release them on its own.

Warner asked Senate lawyers to review legal implications of the Senate's receiving the images from the Defense Department. He was to announce Tuesday how the committee would obtain the images, said his spokesman, John Ullyot.

In Geneva, the International Committee of the Red Cross said U.S.-led coalition intelligence officers had told it that up to 90 percent of Iraqi detainees were arrested by mistake.

A 24-page Red Cross report also cited abuses, some "tantamount to torture," including brutality, forcing people to wear hoods, humiliation and threats of imminent execution.

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