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The commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, General David Petraeus (epa)
May 11, 2007 -- The commander of U.S. forces in Iraq has warned troops against abusing Iraqi detainees, after a survey found that many U.S. personnel there were willing to tolerate some torture of suspects as a way of gathering information.
In an open letter posted on a military website, General David Petraeus said, "Some might argue that we would be more effective if we sanctioned torture or other expedient methods to obtain information from the enemy. They would be wrong."
Petraeus said earlier this week that he is drafting a memo that examines issues of battlefield ethics more closely. He warned that violating military ethics "is done at considerable peril."
The survey on troops' attitudes toward torture was conducted by an army mental health advisory team and questioned more than 1,700 soldiers between August and October 2006. It found that nearly one-third of U.S. troops condoned the use of torture if it would help save the life of a fellow soldier or yield information about insurgent activities.
Approximately 10 percent acknowledged they had mistreated Iraqi civilians by hitting or kicking them, or had damaged their property when it was not necessary to do. The survey also discovered that soldiers who suffered from anxiety, depression, or stress were more likely to engage in unethical behavior, together with those who had had a compatriot in their unit wounded or killed.
(compiled from agency reports)