U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says he is taking full responsibility for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners in U.S. custody.
Testifying today (Friday) before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, Mr. Rumsfeld said that as secretary of defense, he is accountable for what happened to the prisoners.
He offered what he said was his "deepest apology" to Iraqis who suffered the mistreatment at the hands of U.S. soldiers, adding that he would seek compensation for the victims.
Mr. Rumsfeld cautioned that there are more photographs and videotapes of the abuse beyond those already shown by the media.
The defense secretary and other military officials testifying at the hearing stressed that the abuses were the actions of a few.
But Mr. Rumsfeld added that the military is investigating reports that the abuse was encouraged by military intelligence officers.
During testimony later in the day before the House Armed Services Committee, he was asked again if it was department policy to have military police conduct so-called "preparation" of prisoners to be interrogated. He said any instructions for military police to help in such preparation could not be construed to mean the kind of abuse the prisoners suffered.
Mr. Rumsfeld added that he is appointing senior officials to review investigations already underway and recommend whether further probes are needed.
Mr. Rumsfeld said that if he felt he could not carry out his duties he would step down. But he added that he would not resign simply because people are making a political issue of the prisoner abuse.
At one point, protesters interrupted the hearing with demands that Mr. Rumsfeld be fired. They were escorted from the room by U.S. Capitol police.
Some Democratic lawmakers have called for Mr. Rumsfeld to resign -- but President Bush said Thursday that the defense secretary will remain in his cabinet.