A Republican senator inflamed partisan tempers Tuesday, charging his colleagues and the media with manipulating the images of Iraqi prisoner abuse for political gain.
Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., said: "I'm probably not the only one up at this table that is more outraged by the outrage than we are by the treatment."
He said he believed that the individuals responsible for mistreating prisoners should be punished. He also speculated on how the prisoners must feel since Saddam Hussein has been ousted.
"I have to say when we talk about the treatment of these prisoners that I would guess that these prisoners wake up every morning thanking Allah that Saddam Hussein is not in charge of these prisons," Inhofe said.
But Inhofe also said the prisoners in Iraq are being held there for crimes.
"You know, they're not there for traffic violations," he said. "If they're in cell block 1A or 1B, these prisoners -- they're murderers, they're terrorists, they're insurgents. Many of them probably have American blood on their hands. And here we're so concerned about the treatment of those individuals."
Inhofe read aloud from an e-mail issued by the presidential campaign of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., that coupled a demand for President Bush to fire Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld with a solicitation for campaign contributions.
"I'm also outraged by the press and the politicians and the political agendas that are being served by this, and I say political agendas because that's actually what's happening," the Republican senator said at a hearing with the Army general who investigated charges of abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.
David Wade, a Kerry campaign spokesman, accused Inhofe of "trying to turn official Senate business into a political stunt to divert attention from the serious issues being discussed."
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