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Powell Reassures Diplomats on Treatment of Iraqi Prisoners

United Nations -- Secretary of State Colin Powell said he is deeply concerned about how photographs of U.S. soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners will affect U.S. prestige around the world, adding that they "stunned every American" and distressed the military.

Attending a meeting with representatives of the United Nations, the European Union, and Russia to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Powell said at a May 4 press conference that he was concerned at how the images will affect U.S. diplomacy and the perception of Americans worldwide.

"But at the same time I want to remind the world that it was a small number of troops who acted in an illegal and improper manner," the secretary said.

"It is just a few number of troops," compared to "hundreds of thousands of young men and women" who have served in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world over many years, restoring civil society and building hospitals, schools, and other projects, he said.

"These wonderful young men and women are distressed that some of their fellow soldiers acted in this manner," he said.

The treatment of the prisoners, said Powell, "is totally out of character of what we expect of our men and women in uniform. What they did was illegal, against all regulations, against all standards. It was immoral."

"The one thing you can be sure of is that justice will be done," the secretary said. "We are a nation of justice. These sorts of actions are not tolerated, and these individuals will be brought into our military justice system and will be dealt with in a way the world can observe and watch."

"I can assure you that no stone will be left unturned to make sure that justice is done and to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again," said Powell, a former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. "We'll get to the bottom of this."

By Judy Aita Washington File United Nations Correspondent
(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:


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