Rumsfeld apologises for Iraq prison abuse

Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has taken responsibility for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. troops, offering his “deepest apology” to the victims, but says he will not resign just to satisfy his political enemies.

“These events occurred on my watch as secretary of defence. I am accountable for them. I take full responsibility,” Rumsfeld told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Friday.

Warning that he had seen new photographs and a videotape not yet made public that were hard to believe, Rumsfeld said: “I feel terrible about what happened to these detainees. They are human beings, they were in U.S. custody, our country had an obligation to treat them right. We didn’t. That was wrong.

“To those Iraqis who were mistreated by members of the U.S. armed forces, I offer my deepest apology.”

The tense hearing, broadcast live in the Arab world as well as the United States, carried major implications for Rumsfeld’s future but also for U.S. support for President George W. Bush and the war in Iraq.

Rumsfeld, lacking his trademark bravado, said he had created a special commission to investigate the actions. But Arizona Senator John McCain said Americans needed all the available information at once, adding he was concerned that images of abuse would erode domestic support for the war.

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