Prison Abuse 'Unacceptable, Un-American', Rumsfeld Says
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 5, 2004 "Any American who sees the photographs that we've seen has to feel apologetic to the Iraqi people who were abused and recognize that that is something that is unacceptable and certainly un-American," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said today.
Rumsfeld discussed the alleged abuse of Iraqi detainees by American guards at Abu Ghraib prison on ABC TV's "Good Morning America." The secretary left open the door that compensation could be paid to the abuse victims.
Rumsfeld said that as soon as the command heard about the allegations of abuse at the prison, leaders took actions. The criminal investigation began the day after a young soldier presented photos to Army Criminal Investigation Command special agents in Baghdad. On Jan. 14, 2004, leaders immediately halted any alleged abusive actions in the prison and announced via a Jan. 16 press release and a press conference that problems existed.
Officials at Combined Joint Task Force 7 also announced at a Baghdad press conference March 20 that six soldiers were charged. The six have been administratively reassigned, pending investigation results. They were charged with criminal offenses to include conspiracy, dereliction of duty, cruelty and maltreatment, assault and indecent acts with another.
Rumsfeld said as the scope of the abuse became clearer, the investigations grew. Six investigations are ongoing. In addition, an assessment of the situation by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, deputy commanding general for support for 3rd Army, resulted in six more leaders receiving letters of reprimand and two being relieved of duty.
Other investigations are looking at detention operations in U.S. Central Command, the training Army Reservists receive, detention operations at Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and that the Navy Consolidated Brig, Charleston, S.C.
Still another investigation is looking at the role military intelligence operatives may have played in the abuse scandal.
Army officials said investigators are looking at all deaths of Iraqi detainees while in U.S. custody.
Rumsfeld said the abuse was an exception in the behavior of American troops. "No human being would engage in those kind of acts in the normal acceptable way. It's unacceptable," he said.