Local Congressmen Speak out on Prisoner Abuse - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

05/11/04

Local Congressmen Speak out on Prisoner Abuse

Rep. Max Burns (R-GA Dist. 12) Rep. Max Burns (R-GA Dist. 12)
Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA Dist 1) Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA Dist 1)

Maj. Gen. Antonieo Taguba wrote a report earlier this year detailing the abuse in Abu Ghraib prison. Today he took center stage at a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill. The general's findings describe the treatment of detainees as "sadistic and blatant." He said those involved in the abuse did it on their own in collaboration with some military intelligence interrogators.

But he said he found no evidence the mistreatment was ordered by military leaders. He told the hearing the cause was "Failure in leadership, sir, from the brigade commander on down, lack of discipline, no training whatsoever, and no supervision. Supervisory omission was rampant."

Sources now say there are at least 200 pictures detailing abuse. President Bush has now seen more than a dozen of them. Top US officials are debating whether they should release the photos to the public.

The prisoner abuse scandal is bringing comments from politicians here in the Coastal Empire and Low Country. Today Congressmen Jack Kingston (R-GA Dist. 1) and Max Burns (R-GA Dist. 12) spoke out about the events, both saying these pictures are bringing shame to our nation.

WTOC caught up with both men at the Governor's Emergency Management Conference today.

"It's certainly a sad day for Americans," said Burns.

Pvt. Lindy England, shown in many of these pictures, along with the others involved, are facing a court marshal and possible time in prison, but Congressman Burns says the punishments should go up the ladder. "We know the people who did the acts, but we need to know who was responsible, who they reported to and what they knew," he said.

Congressman Kingston agrees, but says it's time for the world to move on from these horrific images. "I think we're going too far apologizing and beating ourselves up with this thing," he said.

Many Democrats on Capitol Hill are calling for the resignation of defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Kingston says it's all a political ploy. "The politicians who hate Rumsfeld and Bush are using this, saying see this is standard policy, but no one is buying that."

While the investigation, both congressmen agree this behavior is not the American way.

"This is unacceptable," said Kingston. "It's an isolated incident. Not American policy."

"We're going to have to find out what happened and insure justice prevails," said Burns. "The reputation of our nation is at stake."

The first court marshal is scheduled for next week.

Reported by: Hena Daniels, hdaniels@wtoc.com

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