US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and senior military officials have been giving evidence to a Senate committee on the controversy surrounding abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US soldiers at the Abu Ghraib jail outside Baghdad.
Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
In recent days there has been a good deal of discussion about who bears responsibility for the terrible activities that took place at Abu Ghraib.
These events occurred on my watch. As secretary of defence I am accountable for them. I take full responsibility.
Mr Rumsfeld offered his "deepest apologies" to the Iraqi detainees
It's my obligation to evaluate what happened, to make sure that those who have committed wrongdoing are brought to justice, and to make changes as needed to see that it doesn't happen again.
I feel terrible about what happened to these Iraqi detainees. They are human beings. They were in US custody. Our country had an obligation to treat them right. We didn't. And that was wrong.
So to those Iraqis who were mistreated by members of the US armed forces, I offer my deepest apology.
It was inconsistent with the values of our nation. It was inconsistent of the teachings of the military to the men and women of the armed forces. And it was certainly fundamentally un-American...
I failed to recognise how important it was to
elevate a matter of such gravity to the highest levels, including the president and the members of Congress...
I'm seeking a way to provide appropriate compensation to
those detainees who suffered such grievous and brutal abuse and cruelty...
Beyond abuse of prisoners, there are other
photos that depict incidents of physical violence towards prisoners,
acts that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel and
There are many more photographs and indeed some videos.
Congress and the American people and the rest of the world need to
Words don't do it. The words that there
were abuses, that it was cruel, that it was inhumane, all of which is true, that it was blatant, you read that and it's one thing.
You see the photographs, and you get a sense of it, and you cannot help but be outraged...
[The issue has turned] out to be something that is radioactive, something that has strategic impact in the world...
The key question is... whether or not I can be
Needless to say, if I felt I could not be effective I'd
resign in a minute. I would not resign simply because people
try to make a political issue out of it
If there's a failure, it's me. It's my failure for not understanding and knowing that there were
hundreds or however many there are of these things that could eventually end up in the public and do the damage they've done.
But I certainly never gave the president the - a briefing with the impact that one would have, had you'd seen the photographs or the
I mean, let there be no doubt about that. He was just as
blindsided as the Congress and me and everyone else...
There are a lot more photographs and
videos that exist...
If these are released to the public, obviously
it's going to make matters worse.
That's just a fact. I mean, I looked at them last night and they're hard to believe. And so be on notice. That's just a fact.
And if they're sent to some news
organisation and taken out of the criminal prosecution channels that they're in, that's where we'll be, and it's not a pretty picture...
I can't conceive of anyone looking at the pictures and suggesting that anyone could have
recommended, condoned, permitted, encouraged, subtly, directly, in any
way, that those things take place...
I am convinced that we are doing exactly what ought to be done,
and that is, to pass responsibility for that country to the Iraqis.
General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
I have complete confidence in our military justice system. The
accused will receive due process. Those found guilty will receive
punishments based on their offences.
Gen Myers said he had confidence in the military justice system
The situation is nothing less than tragic...
The Iraqi people are trying to build a free and open society, and I regret they saw such a flagrant violation of the very principles that
are the cornerstone of such a society.
Senator Carl Levin, ranking Democrat on Senate Armed Services Committee
The abuses that were committed against prisoners in US custody at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq dishonoured our military and our nation...
Our troops are less secure and our nation is less secure because these depraved and despicable actions will fuel the hatred and the fury of those who oppose us.
Humiliating and sexually abusing prisoners has nothing to do with the effective internment or interrogation of prisoners.
In fact, such actions are counterproductive to those goals...
As we seek to bring stability and democracy to Iraq and to fight terrorism globally, our greatest asset as a nation is the moral values that we stand for.
Those values have been compromised. To begin the process of restoring them, the people involved who carried out or who authorised or suggested that we should, quote, "loosen prisoners up", or, quote, "make sure they get the treatment", must be held accountable...
Those abusive actions do not appear to be aberrant conduct by individuals, but part of a conscious method of extracting information.
Senator John Warner, chairman of Senate Armed Services Committee
This mistreatment of prisoners represents an appalling and
totally unacceptable breach of military regulations and conduct.
Most significant, the replaying of these images day after day throughout the Middle East, and indeed, the world, has the potential to undermine
the substantial gains - emphasise this - the substantial gains
towards the goal of peace and freedom in various operation areas of
the world, most particularly Iraq, and the substantial sacrifice by
our forces and those of our allies in the war on terror.
Let me be as clear as one senator can be: This is not the way
for anyone who wears the uniform of the United States of America to