US forces killed prisoners

The Pentagon has revealed a US soldier and a CIA interrogator killed prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that at least 20 other deaths or assaults are under investigation.

The Bush administration is desperately seeking to limit worldwide damage from growing evidence that some US troops have abused prisoners, following publication last week of shocking photographs of naked and humiliated Iraqi prisoners in Baghdad.

Secretary of State Colin Powell compared the breakdown of military discipline with the infamous My Lai massacre in Vietnam, in which US troops committed atrocities against civilians.

The US Congress – far from convinced that the problem is not more widespread, and fuming at being kept in the dark – vowed to publicly grill Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld about a crisis that has undercut US goodwill efforts in Iraq, and is likely to escalate violence.

Trouble has been growing daily as more revelations emerge about criminal misconduct at US military jails in Iraq, Afghanistan and possibly Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.