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Murkowski Horrified by Iraqi Detainee Abuse Photos;
Says Investigation Must Settle Responsibility Issue


May 14, 2004

Washington, DC - After viewing the latest photos and video of Iraq prisoner abuse, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski said she was horrified at the abuse apparently inflicted at the hands of American forces. Murkowski also said the investigation into the incidents must get to the bottom of who was responsible.

"I was horrified. It was disturbing to view the number of photographs and the degradation and humiliation of the Iraqi prisoners. I quite honestly was sickened by what I saw," said Murkowski.

"There is a difference between reading about a situation and seeing an individual in a terribly compromising position and seeing the horror in someone's eyes. And seeing that in these pictures is horrific," said Murkowski.

"Obviously the investigation is ongoing and has been on going for some months. We are in the process of determining the extent of this and it is imperative we understand who was involved, the extent of the involvement and whether this was an isolated series of incidents or whether it was indicative of a more systemic failure, and we need to understand ­ Americans need to understand -- the extent of this," said Murkowski.

She said she was disturbed by the fact that in some of the photos it appeared that others were directing the abuse. "Knowing it is not only the individuals involved in making the prisoners do these acts, but that you had someone standing by and photographing and that there were others in the pictures, other American men and women in uniform who were standing by, is extremely troubling. It was not just one person who lost it and went off the deep end, but implicit in this is that there was support, because the actions weren't stopped," said Murkowski, who said that the investigations must press to know the full causes for the behavior, so that it can be prevented from ever reoccurring.

The Senator, during a press availability Thursday afternoon, also talked on other topics.

Gasline Financial Incentives: The Senator said now that the Senate has approved a series of financial incentives to aid construction of an Alaska gas line, she will continue to press for the House to include the aid in its Jobs bill, or at least for the aid to be included in a final post-conference jobs measure.

Murkowski on Tuesday won Senate support for three financial incentives for a gas line: accelerated tax depreciation on the pipeline segments in Alaska, a tax deduction to reduce the cost of building a gas conditioning plant on Alaska's North Slope and a marginal well tax credit to reduce gas owners tax burdens if the price of natural gas falls to extremely low levels. Those provisions now await House action.

Murkowski said she is an optimist by nature and is hopeful that the House will accept all the provisions, including the more controversial marginal well tax credit. "I'm an optimist by nature. The glass is always half full in my view. It is the Senate that has been having trouble getting legislation moving this year. It was really a huge hurdle to win Senate passage of the incentives. We won a huge win and now we'll keep fighting for all the incentives in the House, or in a conference committee.

"These incentives are important because the gas line is so important for Alaska's future. The gas line is a prize that is truly worth fighting for," said Murkowski.

Police Memorial Ceremony: And Senator Murkowski met Thursday with the widow of Kenai Police Officer John P. Watson, in advance of a candlelight ceremony at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, where the Senator will add his name.The senator met with Officer Watson's widow, Kathy, and with Kenai Police Department Sergeant Scott McBride, who is in Washington for the annual National Police Week ceremonies at the memorial.

Murkowski announced that the Justice Department today awarded seven Alaska law enforcement agencies some $19,000 in grants to pay for bullet-proof protective vests for police officers. The State of Alaska gained $6,849 for vests for Alaska State Troopers, Fairbanks Police gained $6,864 for additional protective vests, the Haines Borough gained $1,725 for vests, the City of Craig in Southeast gained $1,685, both Nome and Whittier Police Departments gained grants of $809, while Kenai gained $282 for protective vests, Murkowski said.

"While we'll never know if a protective vest would have helped Officer Watson, clearly these grants can help protect the officers who protect us every day. It is money that is well spent indeed," said Sen. Murkowski, who said she is honored by being able to participate in the annual law enforcement ceremony at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. Watson was killed on Christmas night 2003 in Kenai.


Source of News Release:

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski
Web Site


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