Pace schools Rumsfeld on Iraq abuse

Nov. 29, 2005 at 7:11 PM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 29 (UPI) -- U.S. forces are obliged to stop inhumane treatment wherever they see it in Iraq, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a Pentagon news conference Tuesday.

This was news to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who told reporters "the United States does not have a responsibility" to prevent abuse of prisoners or civilians at the hands of the Iraqi military or police forces they are training.

Pace offered the military perspective, which is less accommodating.

"It is absolutely the responsibility of every U.S. service member, if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to intervene to stop it," he said.

"But I don't think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it; it's to report it," said Rumsfeld, turning to Pace.

"If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, sir, they have an obligation to try to stop it," Pace said.

A U.S. Army general investigated a claim that an Iraqi teenager had been kidnapped and was being held in an interior ministry building. When he went to investigate, he found a secret jail with 169 inmates, at least seven of whom appeared to have been tortured.

It was not an isolated case in Iraq.

U.S. forces found two dozen malnourished and abused Sunni prisoners in a jail in Tall'Afar being held by Shiite policemen. Sunnis have been arrested in Basra and nearby Az Zubayr and later turn up shot to death, according to British military officials.

U.S. military officials in Baghdad report they have had to prohibit some interior ministry interrogators from questioning prisoners on their base because they were abusing them.

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