President Bush Denounces Iraqi Prisoner Abuse on Arabic TV
Mr. Bush told the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya, ”People in Iraq must understand that I view those practices as abhorrent.”
“They must also understand that what took place in that prison does not represent the America that I know.”
But the president admitted the revelations had hurt America’s image in Iraq and abroad.
“It’s a matter that reflects badly on my country. Our citizens in America are appalled by what they saw, just like people in the Middle East are appalled,” he said.
Mr. Bush promised an investigation into the allegations of mistreatment and torture, but did not apologize, instead stressing that democracies are make mistakes but strive to correct them.
“In a democracy everything is not perfect. Mistakes are made. But in a democracy as well those mistakes will be investigated and people will be brought to justice,” he told Al-Hurra.
Earlier Wednesday, Maj. Gen. Geoffry Miller, the new officer chosen to run the military jails in Iraq, expressed regret over the episode.
“I would like to apologize for our nation and for our military for the actions of a small number of leaders and soldiers who have committed unauthorized and possibly illegal acts on the detained here at Abu Ghraib,” Miller said at the prison where the alleged abuse took place.
Miller was put in charge of the military jails in Iraq a month ago, before which he had been in command of the detainment center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
An internal report that uncovered the wrongdoings had been completed in February and led to the dismissal of 17 personnel at the Abu Ghraib prison and a more formal investigation. By March, six soldiers had been charged with criminal offenses and six more had been reprimanded.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said at a press conference Tuesday that he has yet to read the full report, the executive summary for which is roughly 50 pages.
The story drew public attention after photos of Iraqi prisoners were broadcast on April 29 by the CBS news program 60 Minutes II, showing naked and hooded prisoners forced to simulate sexual positions. Another image showed a prisoner with electrical wires attached to their fingers.
Other abuses in the report include the beating of prisoners with a chair, military dogs biting prisoners, threats with a pistol, sodomizing a prisoner with a chemical light and perhaps a broomstick, and pouring phosphoric acid on a detainee.
Officials and congressional leaders are calling for further investigation, including the role military intelligence officers and civilian contractors played in the treatment of the prisoners.