« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
Now let me tell you the measures we are taking to deal with this issue.
When this incident came to light and was reported within the chain of command, we took several immediate actions. These will be discussed in detail by others here today, but let me highlight them.
• General Sanchez launched a criminal investigation immediately. • He then asked for an administrative review of procedures at the Abu
Ghraib facility. That is the so-called Taguba Report. These two investigations have resulted thus far in criminal or administrative actions against at least 12 individuals, including the relief of the prison chain of command and criminal referrals of several soldiers directly involved in abuse.
• The Army also launched an Inspector General (IG) review of detainee operations throughout Afghanistan and Iraq. That review continues. • The Army has initiated an investigation of Reserve training with respect to military intelligence (MI) and police functions. • General Sanchez also asked for an Army Intelligence review of the circumstances discussed in General Taguba's report and that is ongoing. • I also asked the Navy IG to review procedures at Guantanamo and the
Charleston Naval Brig. As these investigations mature, we will endeavor to keep you informed. But there is more to be done.
First, to ensure we have a handle on the scope of this catastrophe, I will be announcing today the appointment of several senior former officials who are being asked to examine the pace, breadth, and thoroughness of the existing investigations, and to determine whether additional investigations need to be initiated.
(Clarifying information provided by the DOD follows:]
Charter for Independent Panel to Review DOD Detention Operations was signed on May 12, 2004. It allots a timeframe to provide advice“preferably within 45 days” after beginning the review. The panel has announced that it will present its final report on August 18, 2004, with the caveat that it could be modified at a later date to reflect the results of reports or investigations completed after that date.
They are being asked to report their findings within 45 days of taking up their duties. I am confident these distinguished individuals will provide a full and fair assessment of what has been done thus far—and recommend whether further steps may be necessary.
I will encourage them to meet with Members of Congress to keep them appraised of their progress. I look forward to their suggestions and recommendations.
Second, we need to review our habits and procedures. One of the things we've tried to do since September 11 is to get the DOD to adjust its habits and procedures at a time of war, and in the information age. For the past 3 years, we have looked for areas where adjustments were needed, and regrettably, we have now found another one.
Let me be clear. I failed to identify the catastrophic damage that the allegations of abuse could do to our operations in the theater, to the safety of our troops in the field, the cause to which we are committed. When these allegations first surfaced, I failed to recognize how important it was to elevate a matter of such gravity to the highest levels, including leaders in Congress. Nor did we anticipate that a classified investigation report that had not yet been delivered to the senior levels of the DOD would be given to the media. That was my failing.
In the future, we will take whatever steps are necessary to elevate to the appropriate levels charges of this magnitude.
Third, I am seeking a way to provide appropriate compensation to those detainees who suffered grievous and brutal abuse and cruelty at the hands of a few members of the U.S. military. It is the right thing to do. I'm told we have the ability to do so. So we will-one way or another.
One of the great strengths of our Nation is its ability to recognize failures, deal with them, and to strive to make things better. Indeed, the openness with which these problems are being dealt is one of the strengths of our free society. Democracies are imperfect, because they are made up of human beings who are, by our nature, imperfect. Of course, we wish that every person in our Government and our Armed Forces would conduct themselves in accordance with the highest standards of ethics. But the reality is some do not.
One mistake we have made during our initial investigation into these charges, for example, was failing to sufficiently call to your attention the information made public in the CENTCOM press release regarding the investigations they had initiated back in January. We also failed to sufficiently call your attention and brief you on the preliminary findings of the criminal investigation announced on March 20 by General Kimmitt. I am advised the Army has had periodic meetings to inform congressional staffs.
There are indications that the information provided was penetrating at some level, however. On January 20, for example, CNN reported that a criminal investigation division (CID) investigation was being conducted into allegations of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib, and mentioned the possible existence of photographs taken of detainees.
Nonetheless, I know that we did not fully brief you on this subject along the way and we should have done so.
I wish we would have known more sooner and been able to tell you more sooner. But we didn't. For that, I apologize.
We need to discuss a better way to keep you informed about matters of such gravity in the future.
The fact that abuses take place—in the military, in law enforcement, and in our society—is not surprising. But the standard by which our country and our Government should be judged is not by whether abuses take place, but rather how our Nation deals with them. We are dealing with them forthrightly. These incidents are being investigated and any found to have committed crimes or misconduct will receive the appropriate justice. Most of the time, at least, the system works.
None of this is meant to diminish the gravity of the recent situation at Abu Ghraib. To the contrary, that is precisely why these abuses are so damaging—because they can be used by the enemies of our country to undermine our mission and spread the false impression that such conduct is the rule and not the exceptionwhen, in fact, the opposite is true.
Which is why it is so important that we investigate them publicly and openly, and hold people accountable in similar fashion. That is exactly what we are doing. Questions
When we first were told about these activities and saw those photographs, I and everyone at this table was as shocked and stunned as you were.
In the period since, a number of questions have been raised-here in Congress, in the media, and by the public. Let me respond to some of them.
Some have asked: Why weren't those charged with guarding prisoners properly trained?
If one looks at the behavior depicted in those photos, it is fair to ask: what kind of training could one possibly provide that would stop people from doing that? Either you learn that in life, or you don't. If someone doesn't know that doing what is shown in those photos is wrong, cruel, brutal, indecent, and against American values, I am at a loss as to what kind of training could be provided to teach them.
The fact is, the vast majority of the people in the United States Armed Forces are decent, honorable individuals who know right from wrong, and conduct themselves in a manner that is in keeping with the spirit and values of our country. There is only a very small minority who do not.
Some have asked: Hasn't a climate allowing for abuses to occur been created because of a decision to “disregard” the Geneva Conventions?
No. Indeed, the U.S. Government recognized that the Geneva Conventions apply in Iraq, and the Armed Forces are obliged to follow them. DOD personnel are trained in the law of war, including the Geneva Conventions. Doctrine requires that they follow those rules and report, investigate, and take corrective action to remedy violations.
We did conclude that our war against al Qaeda is not governed precisely by the Conventions, but nevertheless announced that detained individuals would be treated consistent with the principles of the Geneva Conventions.
Some have asked: Can we repair the damage done to our credibility in the region?
I hope so and I believe so. We have to trust that in the course of events the truth will eventually come out. The truth is that the United States is a liberator, not a conqueror. Our people are devoted to freedom and democracy, not enslavement or oppression.
Every day, these men and women risk their lives to protect the Iraqi people and help them build a more hopeful future. They have liberated 25 million people; dismantled two terrorist regimes; and battled an enemy that shows no compassion or respect for innocent human life.
These men and women, and the families who love and support them, deserve better than to have their sacrifices on behalf of our country sullied by the despicable actions of a few. To that vast majority of our soldiers abroad, I extend my support and my appreciation for their truly outstanding service.
Today we'll have a full discussion of this terrible incident and I welcome that. But first, let's take a step back for a moment.
Within the constraints imposed on those of us in the chain of command, I want to say a few additional words.
First, beyond abuse of prisoners, we have seen photos that depict incidents of physical violence towards prisoners—acts that may be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel, and inhuman.
Second, the individuals who took the photos took many more.
In addition, the photos give these incidents a vividness—indeed a horror—in the eyes of the world.
Mr. Chairman, that is why this hearing today is important. That is why the actions we take in the days and weeks ahead are so important.
Because however terrible the setback, this is also an occasion to demonstrate to the world the difference between those who believe in democracy and human rights and those who believe in rule by the terrorist code.
We value human life; we believe in their right to individual freedom and the rule of law.
For those beliefs we send the men and women in the Armed Forces abroad-to protect that right for our own people and to give millions of others who aren't Americans the hope of a future of freedom.
Part of that mission-part of what we believe in-is making sure that when wrongdoing or scandal occur that they are not covered up, but exposed, investigated, publicly disclosed-and the guilty brought to justice.
Mr. Chairman, I know you join me today in saying to the world: Judge us by our actions. Watch how Americans, watch how a democracy deals with wrongdoing and scandal and the pain of acknowledging and correcting our own mistakes and weaknesses.
After they have seen America in action, then ask those who preach resentment and hatred of America if our behavior doesn't give the lie to the falsehood and slander they speak about our people and way of life. Ask them if the resolve of Americans in crisis and difficulty—and, yes, the heartache of acknowledging the evil in our midst—doesn't have meaning far beyond their code of hatred.
Above all, ask them if the willingness of Americans to acknowledge their own failures before humanity doesn't light the world as surely as the great ideas and beliefs that first made this Nation a beacon of hope and liberty to all who strive to be free.
We know what the terrorists will do. We know they will try to exploit all that is bad to obscure all that is good. That is the nature of evil. That is the nature of those who think they can kill innocent men, women and children to gratify their own cruel will to power.
We say to the enemies of humanity and freedom: Do your worst, because we will strive to do our best. I thank you Mr. Chairman. My colleagues each have a brief statement.
Chairman WARNER. Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
You and I have had the privilege to know each other for many years. We've enjoyed a close working relationship. I want to say, I found that statement to be strong and, in every sense, heartfelt by you.
Secretary RUMSFELD. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF GEN. RICHARD B. MYERS, USAF, CHAIRMAN,
JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF General MYERS. Mr. Chairman and Senator Levin, I would like to express my deep regret at being here under these circumstances. The incidents of prisoner abuse that occurred at Abu Ghraib prison are absolutely appalling. The actions of those involved are unconscionable and absolutely unacceptable.
Since Brigadier General Kimmitt's public announcement of the allegations back in January, the commanders' response to the prob
ough. Just as a backdrop, we must also realize that our commanders had been handling some enormous challenges in Iraq, including the fighting that had intensified in Fallujah and in Najaf, the temporary plus-up of troops, which was a decision that was pending, and the departure of the Spanish brigade, all at the same time that they were dealing with some of these reports. Despite these extraordinary events, our commanders did exactly the right thing in a timely manner. I have great confidence in them, as should the American public and the citizens of Iraq.
I've been receiving regular updates since the situation developed in January, and I've been involved in corrective actions and personally recommended specific steps. Again, I'm confident that the commanders are doing the right things.
One of the military's greatest strengths comes from the fact that we hold our service men and women accountable for their actions. Our military justice system works very well. I took an oath to support the Constitution, and with that comes the responsibility to ensure that all military members enjoy the full protections of our Constitution, to include the due process of a fair judicial system. After all, it is respect for the rule of law that we're trying to teach and instill in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. So, as the Secretary said, we are now in the middle of a judicial process regarding detainee abuse. Because of my position, I have to be careful to not say anything that can be interpreted as direction or pressure for a certain outcome in any of these cases.
Moreover, we have to understand that a fair judicial system takes time to work. I know you all understand that. No one is stalling or covering up information, but it's absolutely essential to protect the integrity of our judicial system. I have complete confidence in our military justice system. The accused will receive due process. Those found guilty will receive punishments based on their offenses.
When I spoke to Dan Rather, with whom I already had a professional association, concerning the “60 Minutes” story, I did so after talking to General Abizaid, and I did so out of concern for the lives of our troops.
The story about the abuse was already public, but we were concerned that broadcasting the actual pictures would further inflame the tense situation that existed then in Iraq, and further endanger the lives of coalition soldiers and hostages. Again, it's useful to remember the context here. We were in the midst of some very heavy fighting in Fallujah and other places in Iraq, and some 90 hostages had been taken. It was a very delicate situation that we were trying to resolve.
Since the story of the photographs was already public, I felt we were on good ground in asking him to hold off airing the actual photos. As we are now seeing, the photos are having a very real, very emotional worldwide impact. I would identify myself with the Secretary's remarks on having seen more of them than I wish to have seen. They have had quite an impact on me.
This 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
I am also terribly saddened that the hundreds of thousands of service men and women who are serving, or who have served, so honorably in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere would have their reputation tarnished and their accomplishments diminished by those few who don't uphold our military's values. I know our service men and women are all suffering unfairly with a collective sense of shame over what has happened. Their credibility will be restored day by day as they interact with the Iraqi people, and I'm confident that our dedicated service men and women will continue to prove worthy of the trust and respect of our Nation and of the world. We continue to be very proud of them. As always, I thank you, on their behalf, for your steadfast support.
Chairman WARNER. Thank you, General. That was a good statement.
Secretary Brownlee, do you wish to
COMMANDER, UNITED STATES CENTRAL COMMAND General SMITH. Senator Warner, Senator Levin, members of the committee, I wish to start by thanking you for the opportunity to testify before this committee concerning the mistreatment of Iraqi detainees.
The more than 250,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who have served in the CENTCOM area of responsibility (AOR) over the past year have faced numerous challenges in prosecuting the global war on terror and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). Throughout these operations, they have worked to better the lives of the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, to bring progress and stability to these countries. Their efforts, however, have been put at risk by the reprehensible actions of a few. These few have acted in a manner that is inconsistent with the proud history of the American soldier. There is no excuse for their actions, nor do I offer one. Their unprofessional and malicious conduct has caused considerable harm to our attempts to win the trust and confidence of the Iraqi people. Unfortunately, it has also facilitated the efforts of our enemy to malign our national intent and character, and gives weight to the charge of American hypocrisy.
When the allegations of abuse and improper conduct of U.S. forces against legally detained Iraqis were brought to light by a soldier on January 13, 2004, our leadership in Iraq prudently informed us of what they knew and immediately initiated a criminal investigation. That investigation has resulted in preferral of charges against six service members, three of which have, thus far, been referred to courts-martial, and we are still investigating further allegations of criminal misconduct.
At the request of the Commander, Joint Task Force 7 (CJTF-7) on January 24, CENTCOM directed the conduct of a broader ad