Published May 03, 2004
SOUTH BEND, Ind. – President Bush wants to make sure U.S. soldiers found at fault for "shameful and appalling acts" committed against some Iraqi prisoners are punished, the president's spokesman said Monday.
"The president wanted to make sure appropriate action is being taken against those responsible for these shameful and appalling acts," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan (search).
Before setting off on a campaign trip Monday, Bush called Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld (search) to check on the status of the investigation and urged him to take action against those found responsible. But McClellan did not say what action would be appropriate.
So far, six U.S. military police face criminal charges in the alleged abuse of Iraqi prisoners. On Monday, seven more U.S. soldiers were reprimanded and the U.S. officer who oversaw Baghdad's notorious Abu Ghraib prison (search) suggested Monday that more may be involved.
The U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council joined the chorus of international criticism of the alleged abuse, terming it a violation of international law and the Geneva Conventions.
In a statement Monday, the council demanded that U.S. authorities allow Iraqi judges to take part in the interrogation of prisoners and open the detention centers to inspection by Iraqi officials.
Al Jazeera (search) and other Arabic news channels repeatedly showed photographs of U.S. soldiers grinning over groups of naked Iraqi men and have broadcast details of the alleged abuse, which included sexual humiliation of the prisoners.
Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt (search), chief U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, told Fox News he was concerned about the impact the images had on Iraqis.
"They are not understanding that this is the actions of the few, it doesn't represent all the great work that's being done by a vast majority of all the soldiers and Marines over here," Kimmitt said from Baghdad.
Without making comment about the Iraqi demands, several U.S. officials sought to show they recognized the charges were serious while they made the point the abuse were the acts of a few.
"The shameful actions of a few do not represent the 99 percent of our men and women in uniform who are performing superbly," McClellan said.
He contrasted the U.S. abuses, which are being investigated and could lead to criminal charges, with wrongdoing under the former Iraqi leader.
"Saddam Hussein encouraged and tolerated this kind of behavior — the U.S. does not," McClellan said.
Secretary of State Colin Powell (search) called the incidents "despicable acts" and said, "my colleagues at the Pentagon have a number of investigations under way."
"It doesn't reflect on all of our troops," he said. "Most of our troops are doing a great job upholding the highest standards of the service, doing everything they can to help the Iraqi people. We are there to help, not to hurt."
"The acts of a few must not overwhelm" the goodness of the vast majority of servicemen and women, Powell said.
Dan Senor, spokesman for the U.S. occupation authority in Baghdad, said the reported abuse is being aggressively investigated by the military.
"We've made it clear we'll get to the bottom of this. We'll found out who's involved," Senor told Fox News on Monday. "Careers will be ended, criminal charges filed. It's going to be taken with the utmost seriousness."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.