'Big Four' Cover Prison Abuse Hearing

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The "Big Four" broadcast networks blew out regular programming Friday morning to cover the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on prisoner abuses in Iraq.

Among the scenes they captured were protesters interrupting the meeting to call for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's firing, branding him a war criminal, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff explaining why he had asked 60 Minutes II not to broadcast the images of the abused detainees.

General Richard Myers said that when he had called Dan Rather prior to the broadcast, it was out of concern for the safe of his soldiers. "Since the story of the photographs was already public, I felt we were on good ground in asking to hold off in airing the actual photos. As we are now seeing, the photos are having a very real, very emotional worldwide impact."

Lt. General Lance Smith, Deputy Commander, U.S. Central Command, added that the images had not been released because they were part of an ongoing investigation.

Senator Robert Byrd (D-W. Va.) asked why it took the CBS broadcast "to break the silence, a broadcast General Myers admits he tried to suppress. Why didn't we hear it from the Defense Department rather than CBS News."

Rumsfeld countered that the Defense Department had broken the story back in January. "The idea that this was a story broken by the media is simply false," he said. "What was not known is that a classified report with photos would be released to the press before it got to the Pentagon."

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