The president said in the White House Rose Garden after he met with Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, ”I shared a deep disgust that those prisoners were treated the way they were treated.”
“I didn’t like it one bit,” Mr. Bush said. “But I also want to remind people that those few people who did that do not reflect the nature of the men and women we’ve sent overseas. That’s not the way the people are. It’s not their character that are serving our nation in the cause of freedom.”
On Wednesday, 60 Minutes II aired photographs showing Iraqi detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison on the western outskirts of Baghdad. In the photos, U.S. troops appeared smiling as naked Iraqi prisoners were positioned to simulate sex acts with each other.
Another heavily circulated picture showed a hooded Iraqi prisoner standing on a box with his head covered and wires attached to his hands, the BBC reported.
Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the coalition’s deputy chief of operations, said he was “appalled that fellow soldiers who wear the same uniforms as us would do this.”
“They let us down. It’s hard to provide any way to provide any excuse. They crossed the line and violated every tenet we teach in the Army about dignity and respect,” he said, making clear that he was speaking on his own behalf and not for the coalition.
Six soldiers are facing court martial in Iraq over the pictures taken at the detention facility.
An investigation began in January when a soldier reported the abuse to superiors, Kimmitt said this week.
Military officials said that 17 troops were relieved of duty in February, pending an investigation into abuse.
Adnan Pachachi, an Iraqi Governing Council member, said the photos will further angry many Iraqis.
Pachachi added that the torture that transpired under Saddam Hussein at the same prison should not be compared to recent events.
“I don’t think you can compare the two. Saddam Hussein’s prisoners were not only tortured but executed. It was much worse than what is there now,” he said.
The photos appeared in many foreign press outlets throughout Europe and the Arab world.
“It is absolutely shocking. I think this is the end of the story, the straw that broke the camel’s back, for America,” Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper in London, told the UK Press Association.