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Iraqis Demonstrate Against Prisoner Abuse as Bush Plans Interviews on Issue - 2004-05-05


Hundreds of Iraqis demonstrated Wednesday, outside Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison to protest abuse of Iraqi detainees by some U.S. soldiers.

Protesters chanted anti-American slogans and demanded the release of jailed relatives.

Meanwhile, in Washington U.S. officials say President Bush plans to give interviews to Arab media starting Wednesday to discuss the prisoner abuse scandal.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the interviews will be an opportunity for the president to speak directly to the Arab people and let them know that the abuse shown in photographs in media reports is "shameless and unacceptable."

U.S. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice told al-Arabiya television that President Bush is determined to get to the bottom of the matter and to make sure those responsible are punished.

Images of abused Iraqi detainees, some naked, have been broadcast widely by television networks and published in newspapers, and they have drawn worldwide condemnation.

The U.S. military says six officers face criminal charges in the case, and six other people have been reprimanded.

In another development, the recently-appointed head of the U.S. military prison system in Iraq says he will review interrogation techniques and cut in half the number of detainees at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison -- where U.S. soldiers abused Iraqi detainees.

Major General Geoffrey Miller says he wants to reduce the number of detainees at the prison -- from about 3800 to about 2,000 at most. He said he has ordered soldiers to stop covering the heads of Iraqi prisoners with hoods. General Miller says he also wants to reassess military interrogation methods.

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