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5/24/04 - U.S. SOLDIER SENTENCED IN IRAQ - 2004-05-25

Specialist Jeremy Sivits, a U.S. military policeman, pled guilty to four charges of abusing Iraqi detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad. The twenty-four-year-old soldier admitted taking photos of Iraqi detainees being humiliated and abused. A U.S. military court has sentenced Specialist Sivits to one year in prison, a reduction in rank, and a bad conduct discharge from the army.

“I have learned huge lessons,” Sivits said. “You can’t let people abuse people like they have done.” Other soldiers face charges and several investigations are underway. U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld says “Those involved will be held accountable”:

“The United States has offered the world a seminar on what happens when things go wrong in a democracy. The world has seen those shameful pictures, but the same world has watched the United States government take responsibility and apologize to those individuals who were wronged.”

It was the U.S. military itself that first revealed that abuses had taken place at Abu Ghraib. An investigation was ordered in January when a U.S. soldier reported some of the abuses at the prison to a superior officer.

Since then, senior U.S. civilian and military leaders have been called to testify before members of the U.S. Congress about what was discovered and what has been done about it. Mr. Rumsfeld says that the world has “watched a free media publish stories” about the investigations:

“Iraq and the watching world have seen that in our country, no one is above the law, that we are a nation governed by laws.... These are important lessons, though we certainly would not have chosen to teach them this way.”

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld says, “The world will see Americans will not accept dishonorable behavior."