IMAGE: A naked Iraqi prisoner is surrounded by soldiers and dogs at Abu Ghraib.
The New Yorker via AP
A naked Iraqi prisoner is surrounded by soldiers and dogs in Abu Ghraib prison in an undated photograph.
NBC News and news services
updated 5/18/2004 3:27:06 PM ET 2004-05-18T19:27:06

The author of the hard-hitting report on abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers will testify before Congress on Tuesday as lawmakers brace themselves to review new photographs of behavior that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has described as “sadistic.”

Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, who is based in Kuwait, will be the lead-off witness for a day of new hearings by the Senate Armed Services Committee, which questioned Rumsfeld and other defense officials last week. Taguba’s 50-page summary report found “systematic and illegal abuses of detainees” at the Abu Ghraib prison that amounted to violations of international law.

In the afternoon, the committee will question Undersecretary of Defense Steven Cambone, who is in charge of military intelligence. The role of Army military intelligence officers in encouraging the behavior at Abu Ghraib and other U.S. detention facilities in Iraq, which are known to have led to charges against seven soldiers so far, has emerged as a crucial question in the developing scandal.

Congress to see photos, tape
The hearing will take place as the Defense Department debates whether to release to the public a videotape and 100 photos of Iraqi prisoners’ being abused that so far have remained confidential.

Video: Warner on new images

A Senate source told NBC News on Monday that members of Congress would be allowed to view the material privately, perhaps later in the day, although Tuesday or Wednesday was considered more likely.

The Senate source said on condition of anonymity that there was “strong support” among members of the Senate committee to release as much of the material as possible.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said President Bush had been briefed about the undisclosed photos, which Rumsfeld said last week depicted acts “that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel and inhuman.”

McClellan said Bush was “very well aware of what’s in those images.”

A growing chorus
Previously released photos depicting the torture and sexual humiliation of prisoners led to worldwide condemnation and led to calls for Rumsfeld’s resignation, a chorus that grew on Capitol Hill over the weekend before Bush gave the secretary a strong vote of confidence Monday.

“I think it’s still in question whether Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and, quite frankly, General Myers [Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] can command the respect and the trust and the confidence of the military and the American people to lead this country,” Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., a decorated Vietnam veteran, said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“Over the next couple of weeks, the president’s going to have to make some hard choices,” he added.

Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee said the abuse at Abu Ghraib indicated the failure of the Bush administration’s policy on Iraq.

“This is not just a few guards in some kind of an aberrant conduct. This is a much more systemic problem here,” Levin said. “And the military intelligence, including, I believe, the CIA ... have got to be held accountable, right up the chain.”

Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said Sunday on CBS: “In my view, he should go.”

Support for Rumsfeld
But Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, said Saturday that he assumed Rumsfeld’s job was safe. “I certainly hope it is,” he said during a break at the Utah Republican convention. “And I don’t think there needs to be a congressional investigation.”

Sen. John Warner, R-Va., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, called Rumsfeld “a man of conscience.”

“He’s strong, he’s effective, and I can continue to work with him,” Warner said on NBC’s Meet the Press.”

NBC News' Chip Reid and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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