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Amnesty Wants Rumsfeld Busted

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    Give Rumsfeld the Pinochet Treatment, Says US Amnesty Chief by Jim Lobe Thursday, May 26, 2005 by the lnter Press Service
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 4, 2005
      Give Rumsfeld the Pinochet Treatment, Says US Amnesty Chief
      by Jim Lobe
      Thursday, May 26, 2005 by the lnter Press Service

      WASHINGTON - If the administration of President George W. Bush fails
      to conduct a truly independent investigation of U.S. abuses against
      detainees in Iraq and elsewhere, foreign governments should
      investigate and prosecute those senior officials who bear
      responsibility for them, the head of the U.S. chapter of Amnesty
      International said here Wednesday.

      Speaking at the release of Amnesty's annual report, William Schulz
      charged that Washington has become ''a leading purveyor and
      practitioner'' of torture and ill-treatment and that senior officials
      should face prosecution by other governments for violations of the
      Geneva Conventions and the U.N. Convention Against Torture.

      If the U.S. government continues to shirk its responsibility, Amnesty
      International calls on foreign governments to uphold their obligations
      under international law by investigating all senior U.S. officials
      involved in the torture scandal.

      William Schulz
      Amnesty Intl USA
      Among those officials, Schulz named Bush, Defense Secretary Donald
      Rumsfeld, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, Attorney
      General Alberto Gonzales, former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
      director George Tenet, and senior officers at U.S. detention
      facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Abu Ghraib, Iraq. ''If the
      U.S. government continues to shirk its responsibility, Amnesty
      International calls on foreign governments to uphold their obligations
      under international law by investigating all senior U.S. officials
      involved in the torture scandal,'' said Schulz, who added that
      violations of the torture convention, which has been ratified by the
      United States and some 138 other countries, can be prosecuted in any

      ''If those investigations support prosecution, the governments should
      arrest any official who enters their territory and begin legal
      proceedings against them,'' he added. ''The apparent high-level
      architects of torture should think twice before planning their next
      vacation to places like Acapulco or the French Riviera because they
      may find themselves under arrest as (former Chilean dictator) Augusto
      Pinochet famously did in London in 1998.''

      Schulz also called on state bar associations to investigate
      administration lawyers who helped prepare legal opinions that sought
      to justify or defend the use of abusive interrogation methods for
      breach of their professional and ethical responsibilities. He cited,
      in particular, Vice President Dick Cheney's general counsel, David
      Addington; Pentagon General Counsel William Haynes; and top officials
      in the Justice Department's Office of General Counsel, one of whom,
      Jay Bybee, has since been confirmed as a federal appeals court judge.
      ''A wall of secrecy is protecting those who masterminded and developed
      the U.S. torture policy,'' Schulz said. ''Unless those who drew the
      blueprint for torture, approved it, and ordered it implemented are
      held accountable, the United States' once-proud reputation as an
      exemplar of human rights will remain in tatters.''

      Schulz's appeal for foreign governments to take the initiative
      coincided with the launch of a bipartisan drive endorsed by some 350
      attorneys and legal scholars urging the administration to establish an
      independent commission to address the allegations of abuse and
      torture, including an assessment of the responsibility of senior
      administration officials and military officers.

      ''By establishing an independent bipartisan commission to fully
      investigate the issue of abuse of terrorist suspects,'' said John
      Whitehead, who served as deputy secretary of state in the Ronald
      Reagan administration, ''Congress and the president have a unique
      opportunity to send a message to the rest of the world that the United
      States is committed to respecting the inherent worth and dignity of
      all human beings, whether they are U.S. citizens or prisoners of war."
      Whitehead said a high-level, independent investigation was necessary
      because the Pentagon's ongoing or recently completed investigations
      were too narrowly focused and not designed to produce recommendations
      to prevent future abuses.

      Among the signers of the initiative, which was sponsored by the
      bipartisan Constitution Project at Georgetown University, were
      prominent right-wing activists including David Keene, chairman of the
      American Conservative Union, two former Republican congressmen, as
      well as former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Thomas Pickering,
      and former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director William
      Sessions. The National Institute of Military Justice (NIMJ) also
      endorsed the statement, as did more than a dozen military law
      specialists and retired high-ranking military officers. Since the
      abuses first came to light with the publication of photos of
      prisoners at Abu Ghraib 13 months ago, the Pentagon has carried out
      dozens of reviews, courts-martial, and disciplinary proceedings. But
      virtually all of them have dealt only with the responsibility of the
      soldiers who carried out the abuses or their immediate superiors.
      The failure to address the responsibility of officials and officers at
      the top of the command chain, particularly in light of the disclosure
      of memos which appeared to authorize at least some of the tactics
      carried out against detainees, has provoked repeated demands by human
      rights groups to appoint an independent commission to conduct a
      thorough examination. Last summer, the 400,000-lawyer American Bar
      Association joined Amnesty, Human rights Watch, Human Rights First,
      and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in those demands.

      But the Bush administration has rejected them, arguing that the
      Pentagon's own efforts to investigate and prosecute abuses were
      adequate. The Republican leadership in Congress has also paralyzed
      efforts by Democratic and some Republican lawmakers to create a
      commission. The refusal to investigate translates into effective
      ''tolerance'' for torture and mistreatment, Schulz said, resulting not
      only in the spread of such practices but also in the destruction of
      U.S. credibility when it assails other countries, such as Syria or
      Egypt, for human rights violations.

      ''It is the height of hypocrisy for the U.S. government itself to use
      the very torture techniques that it routinely condemns in other
      countries,'' he said. ''When the U.S. government then calls upon
      foreign leaders to bring to justice those who commit or authorize
      human rights violations in their own countries, why should those
      foreign leaders listen?''

      As he spoke, the ACLU released new documents it had obtained from the
      FBI under court order that disclosed that prisoners held at Guantanamo
      complained that guards there had repeatedly mistreated the Koran. In
      one 2002 summary, an FBI interrogator noted a prisoner's allegation
      that guards had flushed a Koran down a toilet.

      The disclosure comes on the heels of controversy over a Newsweek
      report saying that government investigators had corroborated an almost
      identical incident. Newsweek ultimately retracted its story because a
      confidential government source could not be confirmed.

      Other documents released Wednesday by the ACLU provided accounts of
      beatings, planned suicide attempts, hunger strikes to protest
      mistreatment and sexual assaults, including an incident in which a
      female guard fondled a detainee's genitals while he was held down by
      male guards. ''The United States government continues to turn a blind
      eye to mounting evidence of widespread abuse of detainees held in its
      custody,'' said ACLU director Anthony Romero. ''If we are to truly
      repair America's standing in the world, the Bush administration must
      hold accountable high-ranking officials who allow the continuing abuse
      and torture of detainees.''

      © 2005 IPS - Inter Press Service



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