Bush 'sorry' for abuse of Iraqi prisoners
President expresses apology to Jordan's king
President Bush speaks on Thursday outside the White House during a news conference with King Abdullah II of Jordan.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Addressing the abuse of some Iraqi prisoners by their U.S. captors, President Bush on Thursday said he was "sorry for the humiliations suffered by the Iraqi prisoners and the humiliations suffered by their families."
With Jordan's King Abdullah II standing at his side outside the White House, Bush used the word "sorry" twice to express himself -- a word he had avoided in two interviews with Arabic-language television networks one day earlier.
Bush phrased his apology to the king, saying that he had expressed his regrets to the leader in a private meeting earlier.
Pictures taken at the Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad and broadcast around the world show American soldiers forcing the prisoners into humiliating positions. The abuse has sparked outrage in the Middle East and been widely condemned on Capitol Hill.
"I told him I was equally sorry that the people that have been seeing those pictures did not understand the true nature and the heart of America, and I assured him that Americans like me didn't appreciate what we saw and it made us sick to our stomachs," Bush said.
The U.S. president added that he "made it clear to his majesty that the troops we have in Iraq are the finest of the fine, fantastic United States citizens who represent the very best qualities."
Bush once again expressed support for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and vowed that the embattled secretary would remain in his Cabinet, despite calls from some lawmakers that he step down.
But Bush has also been critical of his defense secretary. In a conversation Wednesday with Rumsfeld, Bush said he told Rumsfeld that the president "should have known about the pictures and the report" about abuses of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. troops.
Bush has said he was not aware of the pictures until they were broadcast last week by CBS News' "60 Minutes II."
The president said that he told Jordan's king that those responsible for the maltreatment "will be brought to justice" and that he would ensure that such abuses do not recur.
"The acts were abhorrent," Bush said. "It's a stain on our country's honor and our country's reputation."
He added, "The actions of the people in that prison do not reflect the nature of the men and women who wear our uniforms. We've got brave souls in Iraq sacrificing so that somebody can be free, and helping the Iraqi citizens be free. ... Our soldiers in uniform are honorable, decent, loving people."
In response to a question about the U.S. efforts in the region, Bush said he and Jordan's monarch had discussed the possibility of Jordan sending troops to Afghanistan, but not to Iraq.
"I have never asked a nation to do that which they aren't comfortable doing," Bush said.
Abdullah concurred that he had no plans to send troops to Iraq.
"At this stage, I think, the politics of the issue does not make sense for Jordanians to send troops at this time."