Rumsfeld Pledges to Take All Actions Needed at Abu Ghraib
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 4, 2004 The Defense Department will take all actions necessary to find out what happened at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and see that the appropriate actions are taken, the department's top civilian leader said today.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said the matter of alleged abuse of prisoners in the prison by U.S. military personnel will be pursued properly under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. "The actions of the soldiers in those photographs are totally unacceptable and un-American," Rumsfeld said during a Pentagon news conference. "Any who engaged in such actions let down their comrades who serve honorably each day, and they let down their country."
Rumsfeld said the actions of the prison guards at the facility were an exception, and the vast majority of service members serve the United States with honor. "They uphold the values of our country as they battle enemies that show little compassion or respect for innocent human life," he said.
The photographs taken by participants and now broadcast around the world show American service members abusing and degrading Iraqi detainees. Rumsfeld said the actions of those few American service members "damaged" the fragile trust the United States is trying to build with the people of Iraq.
"The images that we have seen that include U.S. forces are deeply disturbing -- both because of the fundamental unacceptability of what they depicted, and because the actions of U.S. military personnel in those photos do not in any way represent the values of our country or the armed forces," Rumsfeld said.
Rumsfeld stressed that the U.S. military took immediate action upon receiving the accusations. A soldier in the unit was disturbed by what he had witnessed and reported it through the chain of command Jan. 13. On Jan. 14, special agents with the Army Criminal Investigation Command were on the case.
On Jan. 16, Combined Joint Task Force 7 spokesman Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt briefed reporters on the allegations and the start of the investigation.
Other investigations and assessments followed. On Jan 31, Army Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, deputy commanding general for support for 3rd Army, began conducting an administrative investigation of procedures at Abu Ghraib.
In March, Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, chief of the Army Reserve, ordered an assessment of Army Reserve training with an emphasis on military police and military intelligence activities related to prisoners.
In February, the Army inspector general's office began an assessment of doctrine and training associated with detention operations throughout U.S. Central Command.
On April 23, Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the senior U.S. commander in Iraq, asked for an investigation on military intelligence practices in the country.
Earlier this month, the Navy inspector general's office began an assessment of detainee operations at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the Charleston Naval Station brig in South Carolina.
The criminal investigation has resulted in the Army charging six soldiers from the 800th Military Police Brigade with a variety of offenses. The soldiers still are serving in Iraq not as military police and will remain there until the investigations are complete. They are being charged with criminal offenses including conspiracy, dereliction of duty, cruelty and maltreatment, assault and indecent acts with another.
Six other soldiers have received letters of reprimand, including two soldiers who were immediately relieved of duty, Rumsfeld said.