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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

13 May 2004

Congressional Report, May 13: Iraqi Prisoner Abuse Resolution

U.S. Senate passes resolution condemning abuse, 92-0

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution condemning Iraqi prisoner abuse and calling for a full investigation and accounting of abuses at the Abu Ghraib central correctional prison (BCCF) west of Baghdad.

The resolution, which passed on a 92-0 vote, "condemns in the strongest possible terms the despicable acts at the Abu Ghraib prison" and "urges that all individuals responsible for such despicable acts be held accountable."

The resolution said it "is in the best interests of the United States and the people of the United States that appropriate committees of the Senate, exercising the oversight responsibilities of such committees, and the president, through the appropriate departments or agencies of the executive branch, conduct a full investigation of the abuses alleged to have occurred at Abu Ghraib."

The Senate resolution passed late May 10 follows similar action in the U.S. House of Representatives, which passed its resolution condemning the abuse of Iraqi prisoners on May 6 by a 365-50 vote. These two resolutions are non-binding, meaning they express the will of the Congress but impose no legal requirements on the president or on the U.S. armed forces.

The Senate Armed Services Committee held two hearings -- May 7 and May 11 -- with witnesses including U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and officers from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Pentagon, and U.S. Central Command -- as it explored allegations that several U.S. Army Reserve military police soldiers improperly treated a group of detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison. The Army already has scheduled a court martial on May 19 for one of the seven U.S. soldiers arrested, and more court martials are expected.

Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota said in a prepared statement May 10, "the Senate acted to condemn the truly inexcusable. The pictures and descriptions to which all of America has been exposed are too brutal, too inconsistent with what this country stands for, and far too consequential for our troops for this body to be silent."

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican, said, "these photos are appalling and offensive to America's sense of humanity. Many of the images I saw ... are consistent with those that have already appeared in the press. They are images of abusive behavior. Others do not show abuse but expose the character of those now under investigation. It is truly disheartening that the actions of these American service members have tarnished the reputations and professionalism of the thousands of Americans serving abroad."

Frist went on to say that "we must swiftly and fully review the incidents of prisoner abuse to ensure that justice prevails. We must find out who is responsible for these abuses and hold them fully accountable."

He urged everyone to separate this incident from the good humanitarian and security work U.S. service members have done already in Iraq, emphasizing that the acts of few individuals "mustn't tarnish the reputation" of all American military personnel.

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

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