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Bush Admonishes Defense Secretary Over Alleged Iraqi Prisoner Abuse - 2004-05-06


President Bush said that he has admonished Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for failing to inform him about shocking photos of American soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners, but said that he does not want Mr. Rumsfeld to resign as some members of Congress say he should. More photos of Iraqi prisoners apparently being abused have now surfaced.

President Bush told reporters he was not happy his Defense Secretary did not warn him American television was about to broadcast photos of American soldiers posing with naked Iraqi prisoners or that the Army was conducting an investigation into how such abuses could have occurred. "I told him I should have known about the pictures and the report," he said.

Although he apologized for what occurred at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, calling it a stain on our country's honor, the president continued to express support for his defense secretary, saying he has served our nation well. "He's an important part of my cabinet and he'll stay in my cabinet," he added.

However, some Democratic members of Congress are calling for Secretary Rumsfeld's resignation, including presidential candidate John Kerry, Senator Tom Harkin and the top Democrat in the House, Nancy Pelosi.

"Mr. Rumsfeld has been engaged in a cover up from the start on this issue and continues to do so," she said.

Top Republicans are upset as well, including Arizona Senator John McCain.

"Decisive action needs to be taken quickly to help try to begin to restore our image," he stated. "It's obvious that there's a lot of explaining that Secretary Rumsfeld and others have to do including why Congress was never informed as to this."

A new photo appearing on the front page of the Washington Post shows a female U.S. soldier with a leash around the neck of a naked Iraqi inmate. The controversy over the images has already led to multiple investigations as well as criminal charges against six American guards.

In Jordan, Red Cross spokeswoman Nada Doumani said that her group knew about the conditions at Abu Ghraib prison as early as last year. "We were aware of the situation in Abu Ghraib and based on our findings we have repeatedly asked the U.S. authorities to take corrective measures," she said.

Meanwhile the U.S. military in Iraq is pressing ahead with an assault on thousands of militia followers of rebel Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr who have refused to give in to coalition demands that they end a month-long uprising.

Reports from the southern city of Najaf say American forces have taken control of the governor's office from Sadr supporters, with dozens of rebel fighters killed in battles in and around the holy city. The coalition was also reported to be coming under fire in Karbala.

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