NBC News
updated 6/6/2006 6:28:58 PM ET 2006-06-06T22:28:58

Dear Secretary Rumsfeld:

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On June 2, I met with Admiral Edmund P. Giambastiani, Jr., USN, General Robert Magnus, USMC, and Mr. Robert Rangel to discuss the history and latest details on the alleged incidents at Haditha and Hamadiya, to the extent of their limited knowledge, and the progress, processes, and procedures associated with the ongoing investigations by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and Major General Eldon A. Bargewell, USA.

Our military forces are guided by a set of ethical values that transcend our entire history as a democratic republic. American service members around the globe adhere proudly - every year, every day - to these core values.

Any incident perpetuated by a few individuals must be addressed expeditiously, and those found responsible must be held accountable consistent with the Uniformed Code of Military Justice.

Congress and the American people are entitled to a timely disclosure of the official findings and recommendations of these inquiries within the protections afforded by the Uniformed Code of Military Justice. Delays in getting out the official findings of fact due to a protracted review process will mean a mixture of information, misinformation, and unconfirmed facts will continue to spiral in the public domain. We must do everything possible to prevent our military personnel, and indeed the values of all our military services, from being judged on unofficial information in the court of public opinion prior to the conclusion of official investigations.

While the official inquiry proceeds, we cannot predict how information on these incidents and the subsequent investigations will affect United States relations around the world, ongoing military operations, diplomatic initiatives, and the struggle of the new Iraqi government to 'assume full responsibilities of sovereignty. Apart from the facts of the cases, these collateral - impacts are important and subject to our oversight.

As the Armed Services Committee prepares to hold hearings on this matter, I request that you advise me as to the earliest possible date that the Department could provide witnesses who could begin to share with Congress and the public the initial finding of fact. May I suggest a logical first witness should be Major General Bargewell testifying on his report. Given the alleged seriousness of these events, and the collateral issues, it is likely the Committee will hold a series of hearings. Subject to the floor consideration of the annual Armed Services Committee Authorization Bill, these hearings are the first priority of our committee.

With kind regards, I am

Sincerely,

John Warner

Chairman

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