Lawmakers to review new Iraq prison images
Congress to examine Rumsfeld's handling of abuse reports
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Lawmakers will privately review more images this week of U.S. troops mistreating Iraqi prisoners, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said Sunday, amid widespread debate over whether Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld should resign.
"How much can be made public remains to be seen, but the Pentagon is certainly ... cooperating with us in putting our hearing together," said Republican Sen. John Warner of Virginia. "The Senate Armed Services Committee is going to hold a series of hearings to get to the bottom, and we'll follow the facts wherever they go."
Warner said the committee will meet Tuesday, four days after Rumsfeld testified about the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.
Rumsfeld's handling of the scandal will also be investigated by Congress, senators said Sunday, despite a call Saturday by Vice President Dick Cheney for lawmakers to leave the defense secretary alone.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a member of the Armed Services Committee, said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that Cheney's statement was misguided. But he also said critics calling for Rumsfeld's resignation were "missing the boat."
"Secretary Rumsfeld's resignation may happen, it may not. That's not the focus," said Graham, a South Carolina Republican. "And as to the White House, please don't say things like 'You should get off his back.' Nobody is on his back. We have an independent duty to look at this."
Cheney issued a rare weekend statement Saturday in which he voiced support for Rumsfeld, calling him "the best secretary of defense the United States has ever had. People ought to let him do his job." Cheney is also a former defense secretary.
But Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona said Congress needs to make sure "that actions are taken quickly."
"I certainly believe that Vice President Cheney in no way meant that the Congress shouldn't carry out its responsibilities," McCain, another Armed Services Committee member, said on "Fox News Sunday." "It's not a privilege that we have. It's our responsibility to find out what happened, to examine this whole process that led us to this shameful moment in America's history."
Cheney's statement followed calls by several Democrats for Rumsfeld's resignation after an Army report found numerous instances of "sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses" of Iraqis held at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.
Rep. Harold Ford of Tennessee stopped short of calling for Rumsfeld's ouster Sunday, but he told CNN, "I'm one member of the United States Congress who supported the authorization of the use of force who has lost confidence in this defense secretary."
But Warner told NBC that those calling for Rumsfeld's resignation should consider how difficult confirming a new defense secretary would be in an election year.
"We're in two wars, Afghanistan and Iraq," Warner said. "To pull out the top man at this time, and try and go through the complicated procedures of clearances, finding a new individual, bringing him in, bringing in that new individual's staff, in the few months before the election -- someone better weigh that carefully against these calls for his resignation."
Photographs of smiling American troops posing for photographs with hooded, naked prisoners have sparked widespread criticism since they were broadcast on CBS last month, and many lawmakers were angered by Rumsfeld's failure to tell them about the investigation before the pictures were broadcast.
Seven soldiers face criminal charges, six others have been reprimanded, and Rumsfeld warned Congress last week that the worst revelations have yet to emerge publicly. Sunday, The New Yorker magazine published a photograph of U.S. troops using attack dogs to menace a naked Iraqi man.
Many in both parties have criticized his handling of the matter. But President Bush said last week that Rumsfeld would remain in the Cabinet.