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Bush Visits Pentagon for Private Briefing Amid Abuse Scandal - 2004-05-10


President Bush is at the Pentagon for a military briefing this hour (Monday), amid continuing controversy over the abuses committed by U.S. soldiers at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison.

Mr. Bush is expected to read a statement after the briefing voicing support for U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The briefing was scheduled before photographs of the prisoners' abuse were made public.

The president has said Mr. Rumsfeld will stay in his cabinet despite calls from a number of leading Democrats for the defense secretary to resign.

Today (Monday), the Army Times newspaper, which covers the military, published an editorial that in effect calls on Mr. Rumsfeld to be fired. The editorial calls the abuses "a failure that ran straight to the top", and says accountability is essential.

Mr. Rumsfeld says he has taken full responsibility for the abuse cases. The defense secretary told Congress last week that he would "resign in a minute" if he felt he could no longer do his job effectively. But he said, in his words, he "would not resign simply because people try to make a political issue" out of the abuse.

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers are demanding that the Pentagon make public all photographs and videotapes depicting illegal acts.

In Baghdad, a 24 year old American soldier who guarded Iraqis at the Abu Ghraib prison will stand trial on abuse charges next week. Specialist Jeremy Sivits is one of seven guards charged with abusing and humiliating Iraqi prisoners.

He is also believed to have taken some of the recently disclosed photos of the abuse of naked Iraqi prisoners that have sparked worldwide outrage.

Some of the guards have said intelligence officers told them to treat detainees roughly, so the prisoners would be more likely to cooperate with their interrogators.

Seven officers who supervised the guards have received written reprimands -a measure that will effectively end their military careers.

Information for this story is provided by AP.

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