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Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said Mr. Rumsfeld’s endorsement paved the way for abuses to occur in Iraq and Afghanistan and made U.S. troops more likely to someday be tortured if captured by the enemy.

“If we use those same techniques offensively against detainees, it says to the world that they have America’s stamp of approval,” Mr. Levin said.