Iraqi prisoners scandal: Bush backs Rumsfeld, Pentagon set to realease new pics
President Bush told Monday Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld "You are doing a superb job."
The president was shown a "representative sample" of photos, depicting scenes of U.S. soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners, that a senior defense official described as disturbing; the photos are among those not yet seen by the public.
The photos showed humiliation of prisoners and "improper behavior of a sexual nature," the official said, according to The AP.
Bush's comments at the Pentagon aimed at heading off rising speculation that Rumsfeld would quit as the administration braced for the anticipated release of more images and video tapes.
The Pentagon agreed to send as-yet unreleased photos and at least one videotape to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.
Larry DiRita, spokesman for Rumsfeld, told reporters that the Pentagon was in contact with the committee staff on arrangements for showing the additional photos and video "in a restricted environment."
The president acknowledged that images of Iraqi prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad had damaged America's image abroad.
"Those responsible for these abuses have caused harm that goes well beyond the walls of a prison. It has given some an excuse to question our cause and to cast doubt on our motives," Bush said.
The US leader noted that the controversy over Iraqi prisoners came while "our troops continue to face serious danger. And this government is giving them every means of protecting themselves and every means necessary to gain victory."
According to Bush, his administration would stick to its vow to transfer power to an interim Iraqi government on June 30 despite the recent rise in violence against occupation forces and civilians. "Men and women across the Middle East are watching closely. And they will see America keep its word," the president said.
With Rumsfeld at his side, Bush said his Cabinet officer was "courageously leading our nation in our war against terror... . You are a strong secretary of defense and our nation owes you a debt of gratitude."
Twice, Bush ignored reporters' questions about whether the rest of the images of the prisoners should be released.
Earlier Monday, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Bush has been briefed about undisclosed photos that Rumsfeld said depict acts "that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel and inhuman."
Bush is "very well aware of what's in those images," McClellan said.
Bush pledged that those who abused prisoners would be brought to justice. "We will honor rule of law," he said.
Bush said that "all prison operations in Iraq will be thoroughly reviewed to make certain that such offenses are not repeated."
In his remarks, Bush said there will be a full accounting for the "cruel and disgraceful abuse of Iraqi detainees," calling it "an insult to the Iraqi people and...an affront to the most basic standards of morality and decency."
Actions in the prison does not reflect the "character" of the more than 200,000 military personal who have served in Iraq, he conveyed. (Albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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