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US Bans Some Interrogation Methods in Iraq Following Prisoner Abuse Scandal - 2004-05-14

The U.S. military has banned the use of so-called "stress positions" and other severe interrogation techniques in dealing with detainees in Iraq.

Military officials insist "stress positions," sleep deprivation and other controversial interrogation techniques were not being used in Iraq but were on a list of available approaches with high-level approval.

Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon on condition of anonymity, the military officials say these approaches have now been formally banned. They say the order was issued Thursday.

Pentagon spokesman Larry Di Rita downplays suggestions the decision was taken solely in response to the controversy over the abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison.

He suggests it was more likely the result of an ongoing review of prison procedures in Iraq. "How many times has this stuff been sought? If it's not been sought, let's just decide we don't want to do it," he said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz is insisting the U-S invasion of Iraq was not a mistake, even if some American soldiers made mistakes in their handling of Iraqi prisoners.

"Americans are human and we make mistakes. But when we do, we work to correct them. And it was not a mistake to free the Iraqi people and the world from one of the most abusive dictators in history," he said.

Mr. Wolfowitz also hailed the liberation of Afghanistan, where there have been fresh charges of detainee abuse by U-S troops.

The commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Lieutenant General David Barno, told a policy gathering in Washington Friday the military is investigating those new allegations.

He said new policy guidelines are also being formulated for the treatment of detainees.

"I'm also in the midst of putting out some new policy guidance describing what my intent is for treating all of our detainees with dignity and respect and making sure those rules are enforced across all our operations throughout Afghanistan," he said.

General Barno said he expects the new rules to be issued shortly.

The independent monitoring group Human Rights Watch said this week the mistreatment of prisoners in Afghanistan is a systemic problem and not limited to a few isolated cases.