A report released Thursday by leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee said top Bush administration officials, including Donald H. Rumsfeld, the former defense secretary, bore major responsibility for the abuses committed by American troops in interrogations at Abu Ghraib in Iraq; Guantánamo Bay, Cuba; and other military detention centers.The report also states that "members of President Bush’s cabinet discussed specific interrogation methods in White House meetings" and that "senior Defense Department officials inquired about SERE techniques for prisoner interrogations as early as December 2001." SERE is a military training program that stand for Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape. The report states:
The report was issued jointly by Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the Democratic chairman of the panel, and Senator John McCain of Arizona, the top Republican. ...it explicitly rejects the Bush administration’s contention that tough interrogation methods have helped keep the country and its troops safe.
During the resistance phase of SERE training, U.S. military personnel are exposed to physical and psychological pressures (SERE techniques) designed to simulate conditions to which they might be subject if taken prisoner by enemies that did not abide by the Geneva Conventions. As one JPRA instructor explained, SERE training is “based on illegal exploitation (under the rules listed in the 1949 Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War) of prisoners over the last 50 years.”The Times article does not mention what repercussions, if any, there will be for Rumsfeld or other Defense officials. It will be interesting to see how the incoming administration handles these revelations.
Update: Andrew Sullivan weighs in on the report.
On 12/17, this post was changed from the version posted on 12/11 in order to make a correction about SERE training.