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Rumsfeld Takes Responsibility For Prisoner Abuse, Apologizes - 2004-05-07

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says he is taking full responsibility for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners in U.S. custody.

Speaking to the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, Mr. Rumsfeld said that as secretary of defense, he is accountable for what happened to the prisoners.

He offered what he said was his "deepest apology" to Iraqis who suffered the mistreatment at the hands of U.S. soldiers. He also said he would seek compensation for the victims of abuse.

Mr. Rumsfeld added that he was appointing senior officials to review current investigations and recommend whether further probes are needed. He also said there were more photographs and videotape recordings of abuse.

Shortly after the defense secretary began to speak, protesters in the hearing room interrupted the proceedings with demands that Mr. Rumsfeld be fired. They were escorted from the room by security officials.

Some Democratic lawmakers have called for Mr. Rumsfeld to resign -- but President Bush said Thursday that the defense secretary will remain in his cabinet.

The controversy began last week after a U.S. television network aired photos of Iraqi prisoners, some naked, posed in humiliating positions.

The chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers, told the committee today that he regrets CBS's decision to broadcast the photos.

The general says he asked CBS not to air the photos, citing concern that the photos would anger Iraqis and endanger the lives of U.S. troops and hostages held by Iraqi insurgents.