Bush Expresses Regrets Over Prisoner Abuse

By Donna Miles

WASHINGTON, May 6, 2004 — President Bush called cases of abuse of Iraqi prisoners "a stain on our country’s honor and our country’s reputation" and said he told Jordanian King Abdullah II during their meeting today that he is sorry for the humiliation suffered by the prisoners as well as their families.

Speaking with Abdullah in the White House Rose Garden, Bush said he also told the king he is also sorry that many of the people who saw photographs of cruelty and humiliation toward Iraqi prisoners don’t understand "the true nature and heart of America" — an America, he said, that was "sickened" by the images.

Bush said he told the king "as plainly as I could that the wrongdoers will be brought to justice and that the actions of those folks in Iraq do not represent the values of the United States of America."

Abdullah told reporters that Jordanians, like Americans, "were all horrified by the images" but said he feels confident after talking with Bush that those "who perpetrated these heinous crimes" will be brought to justice.

The president said he stressed during his meeting with Abdullah that the actions demonstrated by the photographs fail to capture the true spirit of the vast majority of U.S. troops deployed to Iraq. "The troops we have in Iraq who are there for security and peace and freedom are the finest of the fine, fantastic United States citizens who represent the very best qualities of America: courage, love of freedom, compassion and decency," he said.

Bush maintained his support for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who has come under political fire due to the prisoner abuse incidents. "Secretary Rumsfeld is a really good secretary of defense," the president said. "Secretary Rumsfeld has served our nation well. Secretary Rumsfeld has been the secretary during two wars, and he is an important part of my Cabinet, and he’ll stay in my Cabinet."