PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: We have made clear commitments before the world, and America will keep those commitments. First, we will take every necessary measure to assure the safety of American and coalition personnel, and the security of Iraqi citizens. We're on the offensive against the killers and terrorists in that country, and we will stay on the offensive. In and around Fallujah, U.S. Marines are maintaining pressure on Saddam loyalists and foreign fighters and other militants. We're keeping that pressure on to ensure that Fallujah ceases to be an enemy sanctuary.
In northern sectors of the city, elements of the first marine expeditionary force are prepared to strike at terrorist fighters and prevent a resurgence of violence and chaos. South of the city, the marines are disrupting enemy attacks on our supply routes and routing out anti-coalition fighters. In towns of Ramadi and Husaybah and Kharma, marines are on the offensive, conducting hundreds of patrols and raids every day. The enemy in Fallujah is hiding behind an innocent civilian population, and calculating that our coalition's use of force will alienate ordinary Iraqis. Yet every day our troops are responding with precision and discipline and restraint.
In Najaf, a major Shia population center and a holy site, our military is systematically dismantling an illegal militia that has attempted to incite violence and seize control. Soldiers from the Second Light Cavalry Regiment are conducting reconnaissance to learn the precise strength and location of enemy forces. The First Armored Division is steadily defeating these enemy forces while seeking to protect the people and holy sites of that city. Elements of this militia have been ejected from the Najaf governor's office, and a legitimate governor has been appointed. The people of Najaf and Shia leaders oppose the occupation by this illegal militia, and are putting pressure on the militia to withdraw. We're encouraged to see more Iraqis take responsibility for resolving the standoff in Najaf.
In all these ongoing operations, 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. We're fielding the most technologically advanced military forces ever assembled, forces that are agile and flexible, able to strike in darkness and in light.
Our second great commitment in Iraq is to transfer sovereignty to an Iraqi government as quickly as possible. Decades of oppression destroyed every free institution in Iraq, but not the desire to live in freedom. Like any proud country, the Iraqi people want their independence. The Iraqi people need to know that our coalition is fully committed to their independence, and we're fully committed to their national dignity. This is the reason the June 30 transfer of sovereignty is vital. A key strategic goal of our coalition is to help build a new Iraqi army and civil defense corps and police force and facilities protection service, and a border guard capable of defending and securing the country.
Major General Dave Petraeus, who commanded the 101st Airborne in Iraq, has returned to oversee the training and equipping of these all-Iraqi forces. Once constituted, they will protect a free Iraq from external aggression and internal subversion. Yet the vital mission of our military in helping to provide security will continue on July 1 and beyond.
Third, because America is committed to the equality and dignity of all people, there will be a full accounting for the cruel and disgraceful abuse of Iraqi detainees. The conduct that has come to light is an insult to the Iraqi people and an affront to the most basic standards of morality and decency. One basic difference between democracies and dictatorships is that free countries confront such abuses openly and directly.
In January, shortly after reports of abuse became known to our military, an investigation was launched. Today, several formal investigations led by senior military officials are under way. Secretary Rumsfeld has appointed several former senior officials to review the investigations of these abuses. Some soldiers have already been charged, and those involved will answer for their conduct in an orderly and transparent process. We will honor rule of law. All prison operations in Iraq will be thoroughly reviewed to make certain that such offenses are not repeated.
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. Yet who can doubt that Iraq is better for being free from one of the most bloodiest tyrants the world has ever known? Millions of Iraqis are grateful for the chance they have been given to live in freedom, a chance made possible by the courage and sacrifice of the United States military.
We have great respect for the people of Iraq and for all Arab peoples, respect for their culture and for the history and for the contribution they can make to the world. I understand the difficulty of the mission of our men and women in uniform. They're facing an enemy in sand and heat and blasting winds, often unable to tell friend from foe. I know how painful it is to see a small number dishonor the honorable cause in which so many are sacrificing. What took place in the Iraqi prison does not reflect the character of the more than 200,000 military personnel who have served in Iraq since the beginning of operation Iraqi freedom. I want our men and women in uniform to know that America is proud of you, and that I am honored to be your commander-in- chief. Thank you.