THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
(Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin)
May 8, 2004
RADIO ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT TO THE NATION
Good morning. In recent days, America and the world have learned of shocking
conduct in Iraqi prisons by a small number of American servicemen and women.
These individuals had been given the responsibility of overseeing Iraqis in
American custody, and doing so in a decent and humane manner, consistent with
U.S. law and the Geneva conventions. Instead we have seen shameful images of
prisoners being subjected to abuse and humiliation. Such practices do not
reflect our values. They are a stain on our country's honor and reputation.
Shortly after reports of abuse became known to our military, an investigation
was launched. Today several formal investigations, led by senior military
officials, are underway. Some soldiers have already been charged with crimes. We
will learn all the facts and determine the full extent of these abuses. Those
involved will be identified; they will answer for their actions. All prison
operations in Iraq will be thoroughly reviewed to make certain that similar
disgraceful incidents are never repeated.
What took place in that Iraqi prison was the wrongdoing of a few, and does not
reflect the character of the more than 200,000 military personnel who have
served in Iraq since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. America is a
compassionate country that believes in justice and in freedom.
Americans believe in the worth and rights and dignity of every person.
Our country has sent troops into Iraq to liberate that country, return
sovereignty to the Iraqi people, and make America and the world more secure. In
this cause, our troops perform a thousand acts of kindness, decency and courage
every day. More than 700 Americans have given their lives. The brave and
honorable soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast Guardsmen, and Marines who are
serving and sacrificing in Iraq -- not the few who have let us down -- show the
true character of America. The men and women of our military have my complete
confidence as they carry on with their mission.
This has been a difficult few weeks. Yet our forces will stay on the offensive,
finding and confronting the killers and terrorists who are trying to undermine
the progress of democracy in Iraq. To address the violence in Fallujah, our
Marines are working with Iraqis to conduct operations in and around the city.
They are using targeted force to strike former Baathists and other militants,
surrounding the city to prevent the escape of enemy fighters, and taking every
precaution to avoid hurting the innocent.
In the city of Najaf, an illegal militia is attempting to incite violence and
seize control. The 1st Armored Division is steadily and systematically defeating
these enemy forces, while seeking to protect the people and the holy sites of
that city. Elements of this militia have been ejected from the Najaf governor's
office, which they had been occupying.
The vast majority of Iraqi people want a free society, and next month they will
take another historic step forward when they regain sovereignty. On June 30th, a
sovereign Iraqi interim government will assume authority, and Iraqis will take
over the functions of their state, from basic services to law enforcement to
diplomacy. On that day, the Coalition Provisional Authority will cease to exist,
and relations with a new Iraqi government will be conducted through our new
Our mission in Iraq will continue on July 1st, and beyond. We have no intention
of leaving that nation at the mercy of thugs and murderers. We're determined to
help build a free and stable Iraq, a nation at peace with its neighbors and with
Our nation is grateful to the men and women of our military, and to their
families who face hardship and long separation. Our people in uniform are the
best of America.
Thank you for listening.
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: