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Senators to view abuse images Wednesday

Public release will be left to Bush administration

Stay with CNN-USA for updates, analysis and perspective on the images of Iraqi prisoner abuse newly seen by members of both houses of Congress. Also: How the scandal looks from the campaign trail.
CNN's Bill Hemmer talks with Sen. Carl Levin about the photos.

CNN's Jeff Greenfield on the power of imagery, now and in history.
Gallery: Abuse at Abu Ghraib prison (Contains graphic content. Viewer discretion advised.)
Senate Armed Services Committee

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- All 100 senators will have a three-hour window Wednesday to view additional photographs and video showing abuse of Iraqi prisoners, Sen. John Warner, chairman of the Armed Services Committee has announced.

Pentagon officials will deliver the images to the Senate and take them back afterward.

Lawmakers will be able to view them from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. ET in S-407, a secure room in the Capitol usually reserved for classified briefings.

"All senators are eligible. No staff," said Warner, a Republican from Virginia.

The decision came on the same day that the Senate committee held a hearing on the abuse, hearing from a Army general who investigated the mistreatment of the prisoners.(Taguba: No direct order given for abuse)

Pentagon officials will show the images to lawmakers and "will retain custody" of the photos and videos throughout the process, a Senate Republican aide said.

Senators will not be allowed to make copies of the images, and congressional staff members will not be allowed in the room, the aide said.

Under this scenario, the Senate will never formally take possession of the material.

That will leave it to the Bush administration to decide whether the images will be released to the public.

Photographs of naked, hooded Iraqi prisoners being sexually humiliated by U.S. soldiers stirred anger at home and abroad after their publication during the past two weeks, prompting President Bush to publicly apologize for the treatment.

Government sources have said there are 200 to 300 more photographs and several digital video clips detailing abuse.

Rep. Duncan Hunter of California, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said the beheading of an American captive in Iraq has House Republican leaders concerned that the release of more photos to the public could lead to more Americans being harmed.

"We've got to make a decision on precisely how we handle it, especially in light of what's occurred today," Hunter said.

"From my own perspective, it validates Secretary [of Defense Donald] Rumsfeld and General [Richard] Myers' attempt to keep these initial photos from being published," Hunter said. Myers is chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"I think it shows they were trying to save American lives when they did that. Unfortunately, those pictures were released."

An al Qaeda-linked Web site posted video Tuesday of the beheading of American Nicholas Berg, 26, who had gone to Iraq to work on communications towers. His captors said the killing was in part a response to the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib. (Video shows beheading of American hostage)

CNN's Ed Henry, Ted Barrett and Steve Turnham contributed to this report.

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