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Rumsfeld: Unreleased images 'cruel and inhuman'

Defense secretary outlines panel to probe prisoner abuse


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Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld testifies Friday before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld revealed Friday that videos and "a lot more pictures" exist of the abuse of Iraqis held at Abu Ghraib prison.

"If these are released to the public, obviously it's going to make matters worse," Rumsfeld told the Senate Armed Services Committee. "I mean, I looked at them last night, and they're hard to believe."

The embattled defense secretary fielded sharp and skeptical questions from lawmakers as he testified about the growing prisoner abuse scandal. (Full story)

A military report about that abuse describes detainees being threatened, sodomized with a chemical light and forced into sexually humiliating poses.

Charges have been brought against seven service members, and investigations into events at the prison continue.

Military investigators have looked into -- or are continuing to investigate -- 35 cases of alleged abuse or deaths of prisoners in detention facilities in the Central Command theater, according to Army Secretary Les Brownlee. Two of those cases were deemed homicides, he said.

"The American public needs to understand we're talking about rape and murder here. We're not just talking about giving people a humiliating experience," Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told reporters after Rumsfeld testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"We're talking about rape and murder -- and some very serious charges."

Republican Sen. John Warner of Virginia, the chairman of the committee, told reporters that his committee had not seen any evidence to substantiate Graham's claim, though he acknowledged he was aware of the allegations.

"There's been some allegations to that effect, but we have no detailed information," Warner said. "We will continue to pursue the evidence, wherever it is, and to try to bring it to the public's attention, so long as we're not jeopardizing in any way the judicial system."

A report by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba on the abuse at the prison outside Baghdad says videotapes and photographs show naked detainees, and that groups of men were forced to masturbate while being photographed and videotaped.

Taguba also found evidence of a "male MP guard having sex with a female detainee."

In another incident, Taguba found that "I am a rapest" [sic] was written on the "leg of a detainee alleged to have forcibly raped a 15-year-old fellow detainee." The older detainee was then photographed naked.

Rumsfeld told Congress the unrevealed photos and videos contain acts "that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel and inhuman."

Rumsfeld also announced three of the four people who will sit on an independent panel to probe the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. forces.

Rumsfeld said James Schlessinger, a former defense secretary under President Nixon, had agreed to participate in the investigation, as did former Rep. Tillie Fowler, a Florida Republican, and Gen. Chuck Horner, a retired Air Force general.

Fowler also served on the independent panel that investigated the sexual abuse scandal at the Air Force Academy last year. That panel was also appointed by Rumsfeld.

Rumsfeld said he is still talking to the fourth person he would like to have participate, but that person is trying to decide if he has enough time to devote to the probe.

CNN's John King, Jamie McIntyre, Ed Henry and Dana Bash contributed to this report.


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