U.S. denies it knew of Afghan prison abuse

Oct. 31, 2011 at 12:06 PM
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KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- The United States denies it knew of abuse at Afghan prisons before a United Nations report was released in August, The Washington Post reported.

Afghan and Western officials with knowledge of the situation told the newspaper U.S. officials had received multiple warnings about abuses to detainees transferred to Afghan intelligence service custody, but continued to send prisoners to Department 124, which was rebuilt last year with the help of U.S. funds, the Post said Sunday.

Afghan sources said CIA officials regularly visited the facility, and while Americans never participated in the torture the officials should have known about it.

The International Committee of the Red Cross told Afghan and U.S. officials of its concerns about detainee abuse at the detention center and other Afghan facilities before the U.N. investigation started in October 2010, sources told the newspaper.

U.S. officials deny they ignored credible warnings of abuse. Gen. David H. Petraeus, the former top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, halted detainee transfers to Afghan intelligence in Kandahar in July.

"Anyplace that we've had a concern in the past, we've taken the appropriate steps, I'm confident of that, and we're taking the appropriate steps now," Lt. Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, the second-ranking U.S. commander in Afghanistan, told the newspaper.

White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the United States has a "longstanding policy against transferring individuals to torture."

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