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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Levin, Warner, Casey Press Briefing

Aired May 4, 2004 - 11:34   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We want to go live now to Capitol Hill. Senator John Warner talking, come out of the Senate Armed Services Committee meeting.
SEN. JOHN WARNER (R-VA), CHAIRMAN, ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Speaking for myself, I'm gravely concerned about this situation. I have been privileged to be associated with the military for over a half century and on this committee for 25 years now, and this is as serious a problem of breakdown in discipline as I've ever observed.

But let us stop and be very cautious as we proceed with our statements, because but a small fraction of individuals are alleged to have perpetrated these serious disciplinary infractions.

The rest of the men and women in the armed forces of the United States are professionally carrying out their duties all over the world. And we cannot let this single, but tragic, incident tarnish their service.

At this time, I'll invite the general to say a few words.

And, Senator Levin, you have a few words. If you would, sir?

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D-MI), RANKING MEMBER, ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: The actions of these individuals have jeopardized members of the armed services in the conduct of their mission and have jeopardized the security of this country.

It's a few individuals that have apparently conducted these despicable actions. We hope it's a few. We don't know how systemic it is.

But the committee, under Senator Warner's leadership, is determined that there will be a thorough, complete, total, prompt investigation as to these events, how widespread they are, if they go beyond the specific events we know about.

But that for the security of this nation, we must be open about this. We must root them out. And we must assure the world, thereby, that in this open society, actions of this kind are going to be dealt with, both criminally and within the military code as appropriate.

WARNER: As the vice chief comes up, let me make it clear that under our Constitution the civilians control the armed forces of the United States. And I think the vice chief has performed this morning in terms of responding to questions as best as he possibly can given the current status of one investigation completed and a number of other investigations ongoing.

WARNER: So I thank you, General, for your (UNINTELLIGIBLE) this morning.

GEN. GEORGE CASEY, VICE CHIEF OF STAFF, U.S. ARMY: Thank you, Senator.

QUESTION: Would you state your full name, please?

CASEY: I will.

You done, Senator?

WARNER: Yes. Go ahead.

CASEY: I'm General George Casey. I'm the vice chief of staff of our Army. I would just like to make a couple of points.

First of all, we're extremely disappointed that anyone would mistreat detainees in a manner that has been -- that they have in Iraq.

Second point is the Army is a values-based organization and what you see on those pictures is not indicative of our training or of our values. It is a complete breakdown in discipline.

We are fully committed to getting to the bottom of this and holding accountable those who we find guilty through the judicial process.

Senator, that's it.

WARNER: Thank you very much.

CASEY: We have to get over to the other side.

WARNER: In consultation with my colleague, the ranking member, this committee will proceed next to call as witnesses

KAGAN: Listening into two senators, John Warner and Carl Levin of Virginia and of Michigan. And also General George Casey, vice chief of the U.S. Army, talking, again, what took place inside this meeting of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

We heard from Senator John McCain a littl bit earlier as the senators were briefed on the alleged abuses of Iraqi prisoners taking place at the Abu Ghraib Prison in Baghdad.

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