Q. Arabic television stations began broadcasting pictures of prisoners and detainees that were abused at Abu Ghraib today. What are you planning to do, and what can you do to counter those images that are now being seen by large portions of the Iraqi people?
That's a very good question. I talked with the Arab press two nights ago, before the "60 Minutes" show was broadcast because I wanted the Arab press to understand and possibly communicate to their fellow Iraqis a couple of key points. Number one, we are absolutely appalled by what we saw. There is no excuse for what you see in those photos. And I'm not going to stand up here and try to apologize for what those soldiers did. As I've said before, those soldiers wear the same uniform as 150,000 other soldiers that are operating proudly and properly here in Iraq. And those soldiers let us down; they simply let us down. They have all--that you saw in those pictures--are facing criminal charges. That process is moving forward.
But very simply what I would say to the people of Iraq if asked that question is, this is a very small minority of the hundreds and hundreds of guards that we have operating in Abu Ghraib prison. It's a very small minority of the soldiers that walk up and down your streets every day trying to provide safety and security for the people of Iraq. We've had thousands--we've had tens of thousands of security internees at Abu Ghraib, and we believe that this involves less than 20.
Am I going to apologize for those soldiers? Hell, no. They did wrong. It would appear to us that if, in fact, the pictures are what they appear to be, they will face a court of law, a criminal court of law, and they will have to face a judge and a jury for their actions.
But please don't for a moment think that that's the entire U.S. Army or the U.S. military, because it's not. And if you think those soldiers that are walking up and down the street approve of what they saw, condone what they saw or excuse what they saw, I can tell you that I've got 150,000 other American soldiers who feel as appalled and disappointed as I do at the actions of those few.
I think that that's a very good question; how can we guarantee that these types of activities will not happen again in the future? We are taking, as a coalition, as an army, very aggressive steps to ensure that the risk of this happening again is absolutely minimized. We have brought a two-star general in whose previous job was running the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay; probably the military expert in the world today on conducting appropriate detainee operations. He's on the ground now. He's already making a significant difference.
The new units that are coming in to conduct the detention operations have all had significant additional training to ensure that any excuse of, "well, I wasn't properly trained," is no longer an excuse.
We're conducting another investigation--two more investigations, as a matter of fact: an administrative investigation as to the conduct of the leadership, who should have known, who should have been able to ensure that their soldiers were doing the right thing--and would appear that that wasn't in fact happening. So not only are we going--are conducting a criminal investigation on those who actually participated in the criminal acts, we are also taking a hard look at the chain of command of the organizations that should have known what was happening inside of their unit. And third, we're also taking a hard look at the interrogation procedures and the interrogation policies that are being used out there as well.
Are we opening this up to humanitarian organizations? The International Committee of the Red Cross does frequent visits with our detention personnel for the purpose of answering that question. And I would also tell you--how else can we provide some public oversight? I would expect that in the next couple of weeks, we will in fact organize, within some restrictions--such as no taking of pictures--not only the recent visit of the interim Governing Council out to Abu Ghraib, but we are entertaining the notion of making a press visit out there as well. So you can yourself judge how we're doing out there.