Leahy expresses anger at lack of leadership in Iraq

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(Host) Senator Patrick Leahy says he’s outraged at the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by some members of the United States military. But Leahy doesn’t want Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to resign immediately, because Leahy wants Rumsfeld to testify at upcoming Congressional hearings about these incidents.

Leahy says it’s clear that the Defense Department knew about many of the abuses several months ago but chose not to tell Congress or the American people about them.

Speaking Thursday night on VPR’s Switchboard program, Leahy said the controversy has severely damaged American efforts in the Middle East and he says it’s had a chilling effect on the reputation of the United States:

(Leahy) “I am so angry about this. I think in all the years I’ve been in the Senate nothing has made me so angry.”

(Host) Several Democratic leaders in Congress have called for Rumsfeld’s immediate resignation. Leahy wants some answers from the Defense Secretary before he leaves his post:

(Leahy) “I want him there to answer these questions. I want him to answer specifically these questions: if you knew about this as you did for months and months and months, number one why didn’t you make it public? And number two, even more importantly, why didn’t you do something to stop it? Why didn’t you do something to stop it? This is a failure of leadership, this is not a failure of followership. This is a failure of leadership and the leadership goes straight up the chain to the Pentagon and over to the White House.”

(Host) Leahy says he hopes to ask Secretary Rumsfeld these questions at a special hearing next week.

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