Abuse Scandal Gives Lesson on Democratic Processes
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May. 17, 2004 It has been unpleasant, but the detainee abuse scandal shows the world how a democracy handles these situations, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said today.
Rumsfeld, speaking at the Heritage Foundation here, said the way the United States has responded to the allegations of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison provides "important lessons, though we certainly would not have chosen to teach them this way."
Rumsfeld said that while the world has seen those "shameful pictures," the world also has seen how a democracy is true to its beliefs.
Rumsfeld said that it wasn't the media that uncovered the scandal, but the U.S. military itself. "They are the ones who went public in early January within a day or two of a soldier turning in material that raised that alarm," he said. "The media has piled on for sure, but the public announcement was by the U.S. Central Command in Baghdad."
Military officials announced in March that six soldiers were charged with crimes. Since then, more have been charged and disciplined. Still more could be charged, pending results of investigations. "The world will see Americans will not accept dishonorable behavior," Rumsfeld said.
"The same world has watched the United States government take responsibility and apologize to those individuals who were wronged," he said. "It's watched senior civilian and military leadership come to Congress to testify under oath about what was known and what has been done."
And the world has watched "a free media publish stories or all types from the accurate to the grossly distorted," he said.
The people of Iraq have seen that in the United States, no one is above the law, and that the United States is a nation governed by laws, the secretary said.