The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Bush call to demolish abuse prison
President bid to reassure world
George W. Bush at the White House. (Reuters)

Washington, May 25: President George W Bush sought last night to reassure the world that he had a clear strategy for Iraq as the US and Britain revealed plans to hand over power.

With his approval ratings at a new low and senior Republicans stepping up their criticism of his policy, Bush launched his fightback with a prime-time television address.

Speaking at the Army War College in Pennsylvania, he vowed America “will persevere and defeat this enemy and hold this hard-won ground for the realm of liberty”.

He also confirmed that Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison, scene of the worst of the abuses of Iraqi detainees, would be demolished. “Under Saddam Hussein, prisons like Abu Ghraib were symbols of death and torture. That same prison became a symbol of disgraceful conduct by a few American troops who dishonoured our country and disregarded our values,” he said.

“America will fund the construction of a modern, maximum security prison. With the approval of the Iraqi government, we will demolish the Abu Ghraib prison, as a fitting symbol of Iraq’s new beginning.”

He warned there was likely to be more violence before and after the transition. “There are difficult days ahead. And the way forward may sometimes appear chaotic. Yet our coalition is strong... and terrorists will not be allowed to dictate the future.”

He did not give an exit date for the 135,000 US troops but said “the sooner this goal [of a free government] is achieved, the sooner our job will be done”.

He added: “Our terrorist enemies have a vision that guides and explains all their varied acts of murder. Our actions, too, are guided by a vision. We believe that freedom can advance and change lives... These two visions have now met in Iraq, and are contending for the future of that country.”

The first in a series of televised speeches, it came after Britain and the US circulated the draft of a new UN resolution. The text outlined plans for the handover of power on June 30 to an Iraqi transitional government and the UN’s subsequent role as Iraq moved to democratic elections.

After weeks on the defensive, there was a more confident mood in Washington and Whitehall yesterday that progress was being made on diplomatic and security fronts. Although Blair has refused to criticise Bush in public, British officials believe the President’s recent setbacks, in particular over the prisoner abuse scandal, have strengthened Britain’s hand in negotiations over the resolution.


The US faced misgivings from other UN Security Council members today over the powers and length of stay of a US-led force when authority is handed over to an Iraqi interim government on June 30.

France, Germany, Russia and China signalled that they wanted changes to a US-British drafted resolution on Iraq's transition, which is complicated by persistent attacks on foreign forces and the US-led administration in Baghdad.

Email This Page