Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz Stakeout after Philadelphia World Affairs Council
Q: Mr. Secretary, why didn’t the Pentagon inform the president sooner about the existence of those photos at Abu Ghraib?
Wolfowitz: You know, as I said very clearly in my remarks, that kind of behavior is unacceptable. I’m disgusted by it. The men and women in uniform who I know who are fighting for so nobly for us in Iraq are disgusted by it. I mean, let’s be clear, you’re giving me the opportunity to say it to the American people -- we need to be proud. We have every reason to be proud of these incredibly brave Americans who are fighting for us in Iraq. I actually witnessed it personally when I was in the al-Rashid Hotel in October and we were rocketed and one lieutenant colonel was killed on the floor below me. I went and visited the five most seriously wounded people in the hospital. They really believe in the mission. They’re performing it beautifully. These terrible acts actually are a betrayal of that very cause.
Q: Sir, who do you believe is ultimately responsible for what happened at the jail?
Wolfowitz: You know, we have very careful legal procedures to ensure that justice is done in the right way and without what we call “command influence.” We are going to make sure that justice is done and we’re also going to do everything we can to prevent this kind of abuse from being repeated.
Q: Senator Harkin is calling upon the president either to fire Secretary Rumsfeld, or for Mr. Rumsfeld to resign over the overall handling of this situation. Your thoughts on the handling of it by the Defense Department.
Wolfowitz: You know, I think as recently as yesterday the president against expressed his confidence in Secretary Rumsfeld and in our military commanders on the ground and in Iraq. And I have to tell you personally, it’s an honor to work for the secretary of defense who is really committed to making this country safer and more secure.