May 12 2004

SHELBY REACTS TO PRISONER ABUSE PHOTOS

Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala) today viewed the horrific photos that depict images of Iraqi prisoner abuse. The photos were made available by the Department of Defense to senators during a members-only session in the U.S. Capitol. Following this session, Senator Shelby issued the attached statement:

“The photos I saw today were horrific and despicable. I cannot fathom why anyone would order or participate in such activity. I believe that these acts are indicative of the breakdown that has occurred in the chain of command and cannot be tolerated.”

“At the core of this scandal are a small number of men and women who made a series of conscious choices. Even the best leaders and training and the greatest attention to instill discipline and provide supervision cannot make people moral. Fortunately, the history of outstanding professionalism and courage of the members of the United States Armed Forces proves that good leadership, training, discipline and supervision produces individuals who are decent and morally consistent. There is no doubt in my mind that moral depravity led to these abuses.”

“Whether one is a General or a PFC, he or she must be accountable for their role in these appalling crimes. Was it that these men and women did not think that what they were doing was wrong or felt that "following orders" left them justifiably unaccountable? I do not know the answer, but I do know that regardless of the answer, they were dead wrong.”

“Fortunately, our civilian and military judicial systems are capable of handling cases such as this. I have faith that our system will work and that the individuals who ordered and participated in these acts will be brought to justice. I also have faith in what our Armed Forces stand for and refuse to let the unconscionable acts of a few shake my confidence in the integrity of our military institutions.”

“Despite what these individuals have done, their actions in no way and under no circumstances justify the brutal murder of Pennsylvania native Nicholas Berg. I believe his murder is an example of the brutality that runs rampant in terrorist organizations, and why our efforts in Iraq are so critical to bring stability to this region of the world.”

“The barbaric death of Mr. Berg illustrates a key contrast between our society and the terrorist forces allied against us: While our military is committed to expeditiously and transparently investigating the acts of a few soldiers who abused Iraqi prisoners, these terrorists are encouraging murder of innocent people in an effort to find retribution. The fundamental fact is that these terrorist groups celebrate torture, while we punish it.”

“I believe that we must bring those responsible for Mr. Berg’s death to justice. We must send a clear message that we will not tolerate random acts of violence from anyone regardless of who they are or where they are from.”