White House officials say that while President Bush has publicly expressed confidence in Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, he privately expressed annoyance over the handling of the Iraqi prisoner scandal.

The officials say Mr. Bush discussed the matter with Secretary Rumsfeld Wednesday. They say the president was particularly unhappy he was not told about the photographs of the abuse before they were shown by U.S. media, even though Pentagon officials were aware that an American television network CBS had obtained them.

Mr. Bush has said he learned the graphic details of the abuse when photographs were broadcast last week on a U.S. television program CBS' - 60 Minutes II".

At least one U.S. Senator Democrat Joseph Biden, has said Mr. Rumsfeld should resign if he had known about the reports of mistreatment of Iraqi detainees.

Mr. Rumsfeld is expected to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee Friday.