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5/14/04 - RUMSFELD ON INVESTIGATION - 2004-05-14

Seven U.S. soldiers have been brought up on criminal charges related to abusing Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison between October and December 2003. U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld says that it was a shock to find a few who betrayed American values by their conduct:

“We are heartsick at what they did, for the people they did it to. We are heartsick for the really well earned reputation as a force for good in the world that all of us – military, civilians, and those Americans who support us – will pay.... We know who we are. We know what our standards are...and the terrible actions of a few, don’t change that.”

A U.S. soldier who became aware of the abuses committed by members of his unit, reported them. And it was the U.S. military that first reported the abuses, not news media.

Remnants of the Saddam Hussein regime, terrorists, and extremists will attempt to exploit what happened at Abu Ghraib. “But friends of freedom,” says Mr. Rumsfeld, “will understand that it is a virtue of our system that the president and the most senior officials take responsibility for and are involved in seeing that the punishment for such violations of human rights occur.”

Those found guilty of abusing Iraqi detainees will be brought to justice. And progress in Iraq will continue. On June 30th, the coalition will hand over power to Iraqis. An interim government will operate under a constitution that guarantees freedom to the people of Iraq. "That's the bigger picture," says Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. The U.S. will continue “to take part in a great stride forward for human freedom in places where it’s been scarce.”