Amnesty International urges investigations of top U.S. officials

Monday, May 30, 2005

On Thursday, May 26, Amnesty International urged foreign governments to investigate high-level U.S. government officials for human rights violations committed in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. William Schulz, the executive director of the U.S. branch of Amnesty International, said that governments have an obligation under international law to conduct investigations into alleged human rights violations.

Amnesty International released a list, which Schulz read in his speech: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, former CIA Director George Tenet, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, former commander of US forces in Iraq and current commander of the Joint Task Force Guantanamo, and Douglas Feith, the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.

Schulz said:

"The refusal of the U.S. government to conduct a truly independent investigation into the abuses at Abu-Gharib and other detention centers is tantamount to a white-wash, if not a cover-up of these disgraceful events. It is a failure of leadership to prosecute only enlisted soldiers and a few officers while protecting those who designed a deliberate government policy of torture and authorized interrogation techniques that constitute torture or cruel and degrading human treatment. The government investigation must climb all the way to the top of the military and civilian chains of command. If the U.S. government continues to shirk their responsibility, Amnesty International calls on foreign governments to investigate senior U.S. officials. If those investigations support prosecution, the governments should arrest any official who enters their territory and begin legal proceedings against them,"

In 1998, General Pinochet of Chile was arrested in London after a Spanish judge issued an international arrest warrant. Schulz claims that similar measures could apply to members of the current U.S. administration such as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld or Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan has described recent criticisms of the United States regarding alleged human rights abuses as "unsupported by the facts."

President Bush, in a press conference on Tuesday, was asked about Amnesty International's report. The president said:

"I'm aware of the Amnesty International report, and it's absurd. It's an absurd allegation. The United States is a country that is — promotes freedom around the world. When there's accusations made about certain actions by our people, they're fully investigated in a transparent way. It's just an absurd allegation.

"In terms of the detainees, we've had thousands of people detained. We've investigated every single complaint against the detainees. It seemed like to me they based some of their decisions on the word of — and the allegations — by people who were held in detention, people who hate America, people that had been trained in some instances to disassemble — that means not tell the truth. And so it was an absurd report. It just is."