Sen. claims abuses at Abu Ghraib were not due to a few bad apples

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The Bush Administration has long maintained that the overtly cruel and abusive treatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere was the conduct of a few "bad apples."

But a Senate investigation is tracking the rot to its source. And its findings add to the mounting evidence that the sometimes systematic torture of detainees at American hands was the result of decisions made at the highest levels of government -- and particularly within the office of the vice president.

Warren P. Strobel writes for McClatchy Newspapers: "A senior Pentagon official in July 2002 sought the advice of military psychologists to help design aggressive detainee interrogation techniques that would later be linked with prisoner abuse at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and Abu Ghraib in Iraq, a Senate investigation has found.

"The revelation, part of a probe by the Senate Armed Services Committee that is to be unveiled during hearings Tuesday, provides dramatic new evidence that the use of the aggressive techniques was planned at the top levels of the Bush administration and were not the work of out-of-control, lower-ranking troops."

Senator Carl Levin, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, released new documentary evidence on the origins of the techniques at a hearing this morning.

In his opening statement, Levin asked: "[H]ow did it come about that American military personnel stripped detainees naked, put them in stress positions, used dogs to scare them, put leashes around their necks to humiliate them, hooded them, deprived them of sleep, and blasted music at them. Were these actions the result of 'a few bad apples' acting on their own? It would be a lot easier to accept if it were. But that's not the case. The truth is that senior officials in the United States government sought information on aggressive techniques, twisted the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees. In the process, they damaged our ability to collect intelligence that could save lives."

The investigation appears to refute a key aspect of the administration's story.

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