Kommentar

Det hvite hus gjorde noe så uvanlig som å bekjentgjøre at Bush har gitt Rumsfeld en oppstrammer, fordi han unnlot å fortelle presidenten om de kompromitterende bildene av fangemishandlingen før de ble vist på TV.

Skaden er så stor at spørsmålet om hvem som visste hva og når kommer opp med full styrke. Den innflytelesesrike Bush-rådgiveren Karl Rove mener det vil ta en generasjon å rette opp skaden i arabernes bevissthet.

In his interviews on Wednesday with Arab television networks, Mr. Bush said that he learned the graphic details of the abuse case only when they were broadcast last Wednesday on the CBS program «60 Minutes II.» It was then, one White House official said, that Mr. Bush also saw the photographs documenting the abuse. «When you see the pictures,» the official said, «it takes on a proportion of gravity that would require a much more extreme response than the way it was being handled.»

Another White House official said, «The president was not satisfied or happy about the way he was informed about the pictures, and he did talk to Secretary Rumsfeld about it.»

The disclosure of the dressing-down of the combative Mr. Rumsfeld was the first time that Mr. Bush has allowed his displeasure with a senior member of his administration to be made public. It also exposed the fault lines in Mr. Bush’s inner circle that have deepened with the violence and political chaos in American-occupied Iraq.

Rumsfeld sa heller ikke noe til republikanerne i Kongressen, da han besøkte dem sist onsdag, samme dag CBS skulle vise bildene. Det er valgår og dette skaper dårlig stemning.

Still, Mr. Rumsfeld faced increasingly restive Republicans on Capitol Hill, who were angry that the defense secretary told them nothing about the photographs, which showed Iraqis stripped of their clothes, piled on top of one another and in positions that appeared to simulate sexual acts, when he briefed them last Wednesday, the same day that «60 Minutes II» broadcast its story.

«No member of the Senate had any clue,» said Senator Richard G. Lugar, the Indiana Republican who is chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. «This is entirely unacceptable. I think it’s a total washout as far as communications, and it has to be rectified.»

Demokratiske medlemmer, som Joseph Biden, mener Rumsfeld er farlig nær å måtte gå.

Rumsfeld hadde god tid til å orientere presidenten.

Pentagon officials said that Mr. Rumsfeld was first notified about the pictures in mid-January, after a soldier turned them over to Army officials, prompting the opening of an investigation. A senior Pentagon official said that Mr. Rumsfeld was told of the allegations of abuse and given a general description of the photographs.

Rumsfeld Chastised by President for His Handling of Iraq Scandal
By ELISABETH BUMILLER and RICHARD W. STEVENSON

Published: May 6, 2004