CNN / Amnesty International – 2005-06-02 08:55:15
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday he was offended by Amnesty International’s condemnation of the United States for what it called “serious human rights violations” at Guantanamo Bay.
“For Amnesty International to suggest that somehow the United States is a violator of human rights, I frankly just don’t take them seriously,” he said in an interview that aired Monday night on CNN’s “Larry King Live.”
Amnesty International was scathing last week in its criticism of the way the United States has run the detention center at its naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
“We have documented that the U.S. government is a leading purveyor and practitioner of the odious human rights violation,” William Schulz, executive director of Amnesty International USA, said Wednesday.
On its Web site, the London, England-based human rights group says: “As evidence of torture and widespread cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment mounts, it is more urgent than ever that the U.S. government bring the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and any other facilities it is operating outside the USA into full compliance with international law and standards. The only alternative is to close them down.”
The vice president said the United States has freed millions of people from oppression.
“I think the fact of the matter is, the United States has done more to advance the cause of freedom, has liberated more people from tyranny over the course of the 20th century and up to the present day than any other nation in the history of the world,” he said.
“Just in this administration, we’ve liberated 50 million people from the Taliban in Afghanistan and from Saddam Hussein in Iraq, two terribly repressive regimes that slaughtered hundreds of thousands of their own people.”
Cheney denied American wrongdoing at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, which Amnesty International compared to a “gulag.”
“Guantanamo’s been operated, I think, in a very sane and sound fashion by the U.S. military. … I think these people have been well treated, treated humanely and decently,” Cheney said. “Occasionally there are allegations of mistreatment.
“But if you trace those back, in nearly every case, it turns out to come from somebody who has been inside and been released … to their home country and now are peddling lies about how they were treated.”
Schulz responded to Cheney’s comments: “It doesn’t matter whether he takes Amnesty International seriously.
“He doesn’t take torture seriously; he doesn’t take the Geneva Convention seriously; he doesn’t take due process rights seriously; and he doesn’t take international law seriously.
“And that is more important than whether he takes Amnesty International seriously.”
On Thursday, the commander of the Guantanamo Bay detention center said an investigation had identified five incidents in which the Quran appears to have been mishandled by his personnel.
But Brig. Gen. Jay Hood said he has found “no credible evidence” that personnel at the military prison flushed a Quran in a toilet. (Full story)
On the issue of Iraq, Cheney told King that he believes the insurgency there is “in the last throes.” He also predicted the fighting would end before the Bush administration leaves office. (Full story)
Amnesty International’s Response to Rumsfeld
Dr. William F. Schulz, Executive Director, Amnesty International USA
WASHINGTON (June 1, 2005) — Donald Rumsfeld and the Bush Administration ignored or dismissed Amnesty International’s reports on the abuse of detainees for years, and senior officials continue to ignore the very real plight of men detained without charge or trial.
Amnesty International first communicated its concerns at the treatment of prisoners to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld in January 2002 and continued to raise these concerns at the highest levels as allegations of abuse mounted from Afghanistan, Guantanamo and Iraq.
The response was to bar AI’s human rights investigators from visiting US detention facilities, in contrast to countries as diverse as Libya and Sudan, where governments have accepted the value of independent monitoring.
Twenty years ago, Amnesty International was criticizing Saddam Hussein’s human rights abuses at the same time Donald Rumsfeld was courting him. In 2003 Rumsfeld apparently trusted our credibility on violations by Iraq, but now that we are criticizing the US he has lost his faith again. [see quotes below]
The deliberate policy of this administration is to detain individuals without charge or trial in prisons at Guantanamo Bay, Bagram Air Base and other locations, where their treatment has not conformed to international standards.
Rumsfeld Should Be Held Accountable
Donald Rumsfeld personally approved a December 2002 memorandum that permitted such unlawful interrogation techniques as stress positions, prolonged isolation, stripping, and the use of dogs at Guantanamo Bay, and he should be held accountable, as should all those responsible for torture, no matter how senior.
There has yet to be a full independent investigation, and the content of some of the government’s own reports into human rights violations in these prisons remain classified and unseen.
If this administration is committed to transparency, it should immediately open the network of detention centers operated by the US around the world to scrutiny by independent human rights groups.
It is also worth noting that this administration eagerly cites Amnesty International research when we criticize Cuba and extensively quoted our criticism of the violations in Iraq under Saddam Hussein in the run up to the war.
(compiled by thinkprogress.org at http://thinkprogress.org/index.php?p=979 )
On March 27, 2003, Rumsfeld said:
We know that it’s a repressive regime…. Anyone who has read Amnesty International or any of the human rights organizations about how the regime of Saddam Hussein treats his people….
The next day, Rumsfeld cited his “careful reading” of Amnesty:
[I]t seems to me a careful reading of Amnesty International or the record of Saddam Hussein, having used chemical weapons on his own people as well as his neighbors, and the viciousness of that regime, which is well known and documented by human rights organizations, ought not to be surprised.
And on April 1, 2003, Rumsfeld said once again:
[I]f you read the various human rights groups and Amnesty International’s description of what they know has gone on, it’s not a happy picture.