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In an attempt to quell growing international controversy last week, President Bush expressed outrage at the abuse of Iraqi prisoners. He told Arab television that he thinks "this is a serious matter" and that "we will fully investigate" (1). However, the President has yet to answer why no action was taken to deal with the problem in the last six months --when the Administration was repeatedly warned of "widespread" abuse (2).

Specifically, The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delivered a confidential report to the White House earlier this year which "concluded that abuse of prisoners in Iraq in custody of U.S. military intelligence was widespread and in some cases 'tantamount to torture" (3). It also charged coalition forces with "serious violations" of the Geneva Conventions governing treatment of prisoners of war violations that may have been encouraged by Bush's "pre-war decision that the Geneva Conventions didn't apply" to detainees (4). The Red Cross said it had been aware of the situation in Abu Ghraib and "repeatedly asked the U.S. authorities to take corrective action," but were rebuffed (5).

Even top Administration officials were asking the White House to address the situation earlier, but were ignored. The Washington Post reported that "Secretary of State Colin L. Powell urged action in several White House meetings that included Rumsfeld" (6). Similarly, Coalition Provisional Authority chief Paul Bremer "repeatedly raised the issue of prison conditions as early as last fall - both in one-on-one meetings with Rumsfeld and other administration leaders, and in group meetings with the President's inner circle on national security" (7). But "the Pentagon repeatedly failed to act" (8). At the same time, the Red Cross was told by intelligence officials that the abuse it witnessed was just "part of the process" (9).

Sources: 1. President Bush Meets with Al Arabiya Television on Wednesday, 05/05/2004, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1208987&l=34679.
2. "Red Cross Found Widespread Abuse Of Iraqi Prisoners", Wall Street Journal, 05/07/2004, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1208987&l=34680.
3. "Red Cross Found Widespread Abuse Of Iraqi Prisoners", Wall Street Journal, 05/07/2004, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1208987&l=34680.
4. "Pentagon intelligence chief appears before Senate panel", Fox News, 05/11/2004, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1208987&l=34681.
5. "Red Cross says it repeatedly warned about jail", Reuters, 05/06/2004, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1208987&l=34682.
6. "Bush Privately Chides Rumsfeld", Washington Post, 05/06/2004, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1208987&l=34683.
7. "Bush Apologizes for Abuse of Prisoners", Washington Post, 05/07/2004, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1208987&l=34684.
8. "Bush Privately Chides Rumsfeld", Washington Post, 05/06/2004, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1208987&l=34683.
9. "Red Cross Was Told Iraq Abuse 'Part of the Process", Reuters, 05/10/2004, http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1208987&l=34685.

Posted: May 12, 2004


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