Presumptive Democratic nominee John Kerry viewed photographs depicting abuse of Iraqi prisoners in U.S. custody after making an unexpected visit to the Capitol to gain a full understanding of the allegations, an aide said Friday.
Kerry made a last-minute decision to travel to the Senate Thursday night and then spent 45 minutes viewing the photographs in a secure location, spokesman David Wade said.
Lawmakers who saw the photographs earlier in the day reacted with revulsion. Wade said Kerry had no comment.
Kerry had returned to Washington after campaigning in Little Rock, Ark., and had no events scheduled for the remainder of the day. He went to the Capitol following a television interview in which he said he welcomed Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld’s trip to Baghdad but that he had not changed his view that Rumsfeld should resign.
“I’m glad the secretary of defense went there. The troop morale needs, I think, that kind of visit,” Kerry said in an interview of Fox News Channel’s “Hannity & Colmes.” “I don’t think it changes the dynamics of what America still needs to do to get to the bottom of this.”
Kerry was meeting in private with key members of his financial staff Friday before speaking to a gathering of police officers in Washington. Aides said he likely would comment on the abuse photos sometime Friday.
The Massachusetts senator has warned that the reports of abuse in the Iraqi prison threaten to undermine the effort to combat terrorism in the Middle East by infuriating Arabs suspicious about U.S. intentions in the region.
Republicans have accused Kerry of politicizing the war on terrorism. Viewing the photos was an effort to gather all the facts before weighing in on the issue any further, Wade said.
After speaking to the police officers, Kerry planned to fly to his home in Boston for a day off on Saturday. He resumes his campaign on Sunday with a trip to Las Vegas before heading to Kansas to mark the anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision ending segregated schools.