Skip to comments.Senators seek Iraq torture investigation
Posted on 05/04/2004 11:51:01 PM PDT by beaversmom
WASHINGTON - Republican and Democratic lawmakers were appalled Tuesday over reports that Iraqi prisoners had been abused by U.S. soldiers, with one leading senator calling it an "unacceptable breach of military conduct" that could undermine the war on terror.
After a closed-door briefing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., said the problems may involve more than just Abu Ghraib prison.
"This does not appear to be an isolated incident," Kennedy said, adding there might be additional abuses not only in Iraq but also in Afghanistan.
Other senators were highly critical of the administration's failure to notify the appropriate congressional committees of a probe begun in late January into allegations that U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib had humiliated and sadistically abused Iraqi prisoners.
Still other senators said Congress needed to launch its own independent investigation and suggested Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld be called to testify as soon as possible.
"The rules for the treatment of prisoners of war are very clear," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who was a prisoner of war for five and a half years in Vietnam. "There is no justification for this kind of treatment."
At a Pentagon news conference, Rumsfeld said he was "stunned" by the allegations of prisoner mistreatment and promised they would be thoroughly investigated.
Despite Rumsfeld's assurances, lawmakers were clearly upset. Tuesday was the first day back for Congress after a weekend break and the first opportunity for many to comment on the reports of prisoner abuse that began circulating last week.
The chairman of the Senate Armed Service Committee, Sen. John Warner, R-Va. said he has never seen a more serious breakdown in military discipline.
Warner said the allegations, "if proven, represent an appalling and totally unacceptable breach of military conduct that could undermine much of the courageous work and sacrifice by our forces in the war on terror."
As for the possibility that U.S. military forces may have abused other prisoners, Warner said a "small number" of similar incidents may have occurred in other Iraqi facilities and in Afghanistan.
"We did not get the full details but were left with the impression that they were relatively isolated and certainly small in numbers," Warner said after he and other committee members were briefed by Gen. George Casey, the Army's vice chief of staff.
Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle said he was concerned that President Bush had not been kept informed of the ongoing investigation at the Abu Ghraib prison and that Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard Meyer, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, may not yet have read the two-month-old report.
Daschle said he wasn't prepared to say whether the Pentagon had sought to cover up the allegations of prisoner abuse.
"I want the answers before we come to any final conclusion as to what happened, why it happened," Daschle said.
Democrats were not alone in calling for a congressional investigation.
Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., who earned two Purple Hearts while serving in Vietnam, said Congress was going to have to take a "hard look" at what happened.
"Was there an environment, a culture, that not only condoned this but encouraged this kind of behavior?" Hagel said on NBC's "Today" show. "Yes, we need to look well beyond just the soldier. Who was in charge? Was there a breakdown in command here?"
On the House side, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said Congress needed to investigate the "shameful treatment" of prisoners in Iraq to learn whether there have been other similar incidents, determine when senior leadership at the Pentagon learned of the allegations and whether they took them seriously.
"We must have a full investigation to get to the bottom of this outrage," Pelosi said.
Her plastic surgeon?
What do these assholes think goes on day and night in the US prison system ??
Yea, another well placed investigation to boot.
Nothing ever is placed in the forefront of concern in Washington without a political twist to it.
When the hell are we going to get an honest investigation for our country's sake, as to how we can rid ourselves of this beatable threat that we have facing us, forget the "treacherous and anti-American" political business and show these inhuman murderers that we mean it when we show our patriotism and resolve to maintain our personal freedoms by sticking together and promoting, with the same resolve, the same opportunity for freedom to other country's outside of ours?
The silence from Kerry is deafening.
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