WASHINGTON – The probe into the alleged abuse of Iraqi prisoners at the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison outside of Baghdad appears to be widening.
Condoleezza Rice, President Bush's national security adviser, told the Arab satellite television channel Al Arabiya that Bush was "determined to find out if there is any wider problem than just what happened at Abu Ghraib (search). And so he has told [Defense] Secretary [Donald] Rumsfeld that he expects an investigation, a full accounting."
Bush on Wednesday gave interviews to both Al Arabiya (search) and the U.S.-run Al Hurra (search) satellite channel, addressing the uproar over recent photos showing U.S. servicemen and -women mistreating Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib, which during Saddam Hussein's rule was renowned for its torture chambers and executions.
"I expect that as these investigations track down all the possible leads that there will be more things that will need to be looked at very, very carefully," Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Wednesday.
Intelligence officials told Fox News that the CIA inspector general was investigating three detainee deaths in U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility, which includes Iraq. Each death may involve a CIA agent or civilian contractor.
One death occurred at Abu Ghraib prison in November 2003. A second was at "another military facility in Iraq" that same month, possibly at a 'Camp Bucca.' The third death occurred in Afghanistan in June 2003.
"Our congressional oversight committees and the Department of Justice were informed as soon as we knew," one intelligence said. "That's standard procedure for us when there are allegations of wrongdoing involved."
U.S. military officials acknowledged Tuesday that a CIA contract interrogator was under investigation for the November death of an Iraqi prisoner and that the case had been handed over to the Justice Department.
'Action Has Been Taken'
So far, six military police officers face charges that may lead to courts-martial; seven more have been disciplined.
The Army said one soldier had already been court-martialed for using excessive force in shooting to death an Iraqi prisoner in September. The Iraqi prisoner, who was not at Abu Ghraib, was throwing rocks at the soldier. The soldier was reduced in rank and dismissed from the Army.
Since December 2002, the Army has investigated the deaths of 25 people in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the two determined to be homicides, said Maj. Gen. Donald Ryder, the Army provost marshal. Of those, 12 were found to have died of natural or undetermined causes. Ten cases remained under investigation.
The Justice Department is considering criminal charges against at least two contract workers implicated in the prison abuse.
Sources indicate that at least one employee of the Virginia-based defense contractor CACI International, identified as someone who may have participated in interrogations, and a linguist employed by Titan International of San Diego, may be in some amount of trouble.
Titan has supplied several translators to the military for use in Iraq and other places.
Gen. George Casey said that he thought at least two contractors were being investigated.
Many of the allegations of abuse were contained in an internal Pentagon report completed in March.
But Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army's chief of staff, warned against labeling all probes as "investigations" and said previous reports of possible abuse took time to make their way up the chain of command and were not being hidden.
"We will go and look in other areas to make sure the problem isn't broader," Schoomaker told Fox News.
Powell said Wednesday that Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the senior American commander in Iraq, launched an investigation into the alleged abuse "the day after he heard about it in the early part of the year."
Powell noted that Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt mentioned the investigation during several briefings over the past several months, and in a March 20 briefing in Baghdad with reporters, he announced that some were charged.
"Action has been taken by the chain of command during this period," Powell said. "It was the photos themselves that caused a stir, and rightly so, when we could all see what the investigations were about ... we were all terribly distressed and shocked."
Lawmakers on Fire
Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he could not believe the Senate was "sitting around here not doing anything" about the abuse allegations, adding that he "suspects" the White House knew about the reports before it acknowledged as such.
Leahy has asked Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, to hold hearings into the abuse, particularly as it relates to private contractors responsible for interrogation of the prisoners.
Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., said the issue must be addressed with "far more urgency" by the administration and resignations may be needed.
"It's the single most damaging act to our interests in the region in the last decade, and it will negatively affect our national security," Biden said in a statement. "Accountability is essential … if the answers are unsatisfactory, resignations should be sought."
Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., told Fox News on Wednesday that although he thought some good could come from Bush's Arabic TV interviews, "we cannot sweep things like this under the rug, and we won't sweep it under the rug."
"I ... hope this is just an isolated thing, because this is really giving us difficulty in the Arab world," said Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. "At the end of the day ... we want to be successful in stabilizing Iraq."
Nelson, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the panel would "demand" to find out if the abuse was limited to just a few bad apples in the U.S. military.
"We're having tens of soldiers being killed now every few days [in Iraq] and if this in anyway incites the Muslim passions to go after more, after our men and women, Lord knows that's not what we want," he continued. "Let's make sure that there's accountability ... if the investigation shows this goes up the lines, let's hold this chain of command responsible."
Reps. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Chris Bell, D-Texas, are calling for the Defense Department's inspector general to call for an independent investigation, as well as hearings.
Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said the acts undermined the credibility of the mission in Iraq.
"It has, as well, overshadowed the outstanding courage and conduct of the thousands of men and women who are serving our country in Iraq with honor, distinction and dedication," he said. "Only by establishing responsibility and accountability will we remove that shadow."
Iraq's U.S.-appointed human rights minister, Abdul-Basat al-Turki, said he had resigned to protest abuses by American guards, and Interior Minister Samir Shaker Mahmoud al-Sumeidi demanded that Iraqi officials be allowed to help run the prisons.
The new commander of U.S.-run prisons in Iraq also said he would cut in half the number of Iraqis held at Abu Ghraib and change some interrogation techniques considered humiliating, such as hooding prisoners.
The U.S. military said it was ordering troops to use blindfolds and require interrogators to get permission from superiors before depriving inmates of sleep, a common technique.
Fox News' Bret Baier, Ian McCaleb, Liza Porteus, Anna Stolley, Trish Turner and The Associated Press contributed to this report.