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U.S. military takes swift action over abuses at Abu Ghraib prison

At least six U.S. soldiers have been charged with abusing Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib military prison outside Baghdad, an Army spokesman says.

Army Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, deputy director for operations of the Combined Joint Task Force 7, said during a briefing on April 28 that an investigation began in January into the alleged abuse of Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib military prison. He said that a U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division investigation began immediately when a U.S. soldier reported and turned over evidence of criminal activity including photographs of detainee abuse.

"As a result of the criminal investigation, six military personnel have been charged with criminal offenses," Kimmitt said. "The coalition takes all reports of detainee abuse seriously and all allegations of mistreatment are investigated. We are committed to treating all persons under coalition custody with dignity, respect, and humanity. Coalition personnel are expected to act appropriately, humanely and in a manner consistent with the Geneva Conventions."

"Number one, we are absolutely appalled by what we saw," Kimmitt said of the photographs during another Coalition Provisional Authority briefing April 30. "There is no excuse for what you see in those photos. And, I'm not going to stand up here and try to apologize for what those soldiers did. And, those soldiers let us down, they simply let us down."

Kimmitt said April 30 he believes the number of prisoners involved in the incidents is less than 20.

President Bush at the White House April 30 said the pictures depicting abuse at the Iraqi military prison disturbed him.

"I shared a deep disgust that those prisoners were treated the way they were treated,'' Bush said following talks with Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin. "I didn't like it one bit. But I also want to remind people that those few people who did that do not reflect the nature of the men and women we've sent overseas. That's not the way the people are. It's not their character, that are serving our nation in the cause of freedom.''

"And there will be an investigation,'' Bush said. ``I think they'll be taken care of."

According to news reports in February, senior military officials said 17 troops, including a battalion commander, a company commander, and 12 military police soldiers assigned to guard the prisoners had been relieved of duty until an investigation could be completed.

Kimmitt also reported that Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, the commanding general in Iraq, has requested a separate administrative investigation into systemic issues such as command policies and internal procedures related to detention operations.

"That administrative investigation is complete. Lieutenant General Sanchez has also directed a follow-up investigation of interrogation procedures in detention facilities, and that investigation is ongoing," Kimmitt said.

Kimmitt said some of the six personnel charged in the investigation have undergone an Article 32 investigation, which is the military equivalent of a grand jury investigation, and have been recommended for military court martial trials. Three other personnel have had their Article 32 investigations delayed until May or June.

"It would appear to us that if, in fact, the pictures are what they appear to be, they will face a court of law, a criminal court of law, and they will have to face a judge and a jury for their actions," Kimmitt said. "But, please don't for a moment think that that's [the standard behavior of] the entire U.S. Army or the U.S. military, because it's not."

He added that the United States is taking "very aggressive steps to ensure that the risk of this happening again is absolutely minimized."

Kimmitt confirmed that Major General Geoffrey Miller has been brought in to take over the U.S.-run detention facilities in Iraq as deputy commander for detainee operations and will report directly to Sanchez. Previously, Miller ran the military detention center at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.

"He's on the ground now. He's already making a significant difference," Kimmitt said.

Kimmitt said the International Committee of the Red Cross does make frequent visits to all detention facilities, but plans are being developed to bring in representatives of the interim Iraqi Governing Council as well as scheduling a possible a press visit to the Abu Ghraib facility.

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:


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