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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

06 May 2004

Defense Department Report, May 6: Prisoner Abuse

Wolfowitz says action will be taken to prevent repetition of prisoner abuse

Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz says the actions taken by U.S. soldiers against Iraqi prisoners as depicted in a series of photographs is "totally unacceptable."

Speaking May 6 to the World Affairs Council of Greater Philadelphia, the deputy secretary noted that "the misdeeds of a few do not reflect the noble work and sacrifice of the many."

But those who carried out such unacceptable behavior with be dealt with, he said, and action will be taken "to prevent this kind of thing from happening again."

Interrogations must be carried out in such a way as to "meet the standards and ideals that we fight for," Wolfowitz said.

"That's why we have said over and over again, the kind of behavior that is depicted in those photographs is not only so unacceptable, but it is fundamentally damaging to the cause for which we're fighting. And we have to take action to do everything we can to prevent it in the future," he added.

Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith also addressed this theme May 4 during a speech to the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. "No country in the world upholds the Geneva Conventions on the law of armed conflict more steadfastly than does the United States," he said.

This is the case because Americans recognize the moral obligation to be humane and because Americans are law-abiding by nature and in practice. Additionally, Feith said, the United States has a very practical interest in respecting the laws of war.

"We'll deal promptly and properly with the terrible abuses," the under secretary said.

"The interests and dignity of our numerous, admirable military forces must not be undermined by the reprehensible actions of a few individuals," he said.

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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