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Bush Vows Punishment for Abuse of Iraqi Prisoners - 2004-05-06


President Bush says those responsible for abusing prisoners in Iraq will be brought to justice.

Mr. Bush says the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers at the Abu Ghraib prison was, in his words, "abhorrent." He also says he wants Iraqis to understand the abuse does not represent what he called "the America I know."

Mr. Bush made the remarks in interviews aired today (Wednesday) with two Arabic-language television channels (U.S.-government-sponsored Al-Hurra and Dubai-based Al-Arabiya). But he stopped short of offering an apology for the incidents.

The U.S. military has launched a probe into its prison operations in Iraq. And Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has agreed to testify on the alleged abuse at a Senate committee on Friday.

Earlier today, hundreds of people marched outside a U.S.-run prison in Baghdad to protest the reports of abuse.

Speaking at the site, the new commander of U.S.-run prisons in Iraq said he was sorry for what he called "unauthorized and possibly illegal acts" by some soldiers. Major General Geoffrey Miller also says he has banned some of the practices described by Iraqi detainees.

Photographs of Iraqi detainees, wearing hoods and posed in degrading positions, were first broadcast by the U.S. television network CBS last week.

The U.S. military says six officers face criminal charges in the case, and six other people have been reprimanded.

The likely Democratic presidential challenger John Kerry criticized the leadership of the Bush administration amid the abuse scandal. He called for an investigation to discover if top officials had been aware of the mistreatment and for how long.

Information for this report is provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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