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Public Statements

Deploring Abuse of Persons in United States Custody in Iraq

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


DEPLORING ABUSE OF PERSONS IN UNITED STATES CUSTODY IN IRAQ -- (House of Representatives - May 06, 2004)

Mr. HUNTER. Mr. Speaker, pursuant to House Resolution 628, I call up the resolution (H. Res. 627) deploring the abuse of persons in United States custody in Iraq, regardless of the circumstances of their detention, urging the Secretary of the Army to bring to swift justice any member of the Armed Forces who has violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice, expressing the deep appreciation of the Nation to the courageous and honorable members of the Armed Forces who have selflessly served, or are currently serving, in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and for other purposes, and ask for its immediate consideration.

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Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. Speaker, I will vote for this resolution because I strongly agree with most of what it says.
But I think its focus is too narrow and it does not say all that needs to be said.

The portions of the resolution calling for action are addressed solely to the Secretary of the Army. Intentionally or not, that suggests that the Army alone-not the Defense Department as a whole, and not any other part of the Administration-bears responsibility for the shocking abuses the resolution rightly condemns.

But what's involved here is not just an Army problem. It is much bigger than that. It involves not just the armed forces but civilian members of the intelligence community as well as civilians working for private companies under contract with the government.

This morning's newspapers report that President Bush has privately admonished the Secretary of Defense and that the Justice Department is examining the involvement of Central Intelligence Agency personnel as well as contract employees in suspicious deaths of detainees.

Clearly, the events at Abu Ghraib prison are only part of a bigger picture.

The resolution rightly complains about the fact that Congress was not properly informed of the abuses at that prison or the investigation of those abuses. But I am concerned that this failure to inform the Congress and the American people may not have been an isolated failure but just another instance of the Bush Administration's standard operating procedure.

In short, while this resolution is right in condemning the abuses at Abu Ghraib-and accurate in saying that they are
offensive to the principles and values of the American people-passage of this resolution, by iself, is not an adequate response on the part of the House of Representatives.

We need to insist that the Administration-all of it, not just the Secretary of the Army-take strong action to change the policies and attitudes that made the abuses at Abu Ghraib possible. And we need to insist that all those responsible for those policies and attitudes be held accountable.

And that means Congress itself must do more than make speeches and pass resolutions. We must insist on finding out for ourselves; and for those we represent-the American people. They must bear the costs-in blood and treasure-for the Administration's actions in Iraq and around the world.

Those costs will be made all the greater by abuses like those cited in this resolution and the policies and attitudes that have produced them, and Congress must take an active role in making necessary changes.

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