A U.S. Senate report has concluded that Bush administration policies led directly to the abuse of detainees in U.S. custody in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The bipartisan report, issued Thursday by the Senate Armed Forces Committee, says the authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques conveyed the message that it was "okay" to mistreat detainees in U.S. custody.
The Bush administration, which has not yet commented on the report, has repeatedly said detainees in U.S. custody are treated humanely, and that because they are enemy combatants, and not prisoners-of-war, they are not entitled to the protections of the Geneva Conventions.
The report says harsh interrogation tactics, such as waterboarding, began to be used after President George Bush determined that the Geneva Conventions - the minimum standards for humane treatment - did not apply to al-Qaida or Taliban suspects.
The report also says former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques at the Guantanomo Bay detention center, was a direct cause of abusive techniques, including forced nudity, stress positions and the use of military working dogs, at detention centers in Afghanistan and Iraq.
A Defense Department spokesman, Colonel Gary Keck, said today Pentagon officials have not yet reviewed the report. He says numerous reviews of detention operations have all found there was never any policy that condoned or tolerated abuse.
Senate Armed Forces Committee Chairman Carl Levin, a Democrat, criticized senior officials for trying to pass responsibility for abuses at U.S. detention facilities to lower-ranking officers.
The ranking Republican, John McCain, said the policies that led to the abuses are wrong, and must never be repeated.
Some information for this report was provided by AP.