News Release

Political Theater of “Absurd”: Bush on Amnesty International

Dismissing criticism from Amnesty International, President Bush said at his news conference today: “I’m aware of the Amnesty International report, and it’s absurd. … When there’s accusations made about certain actions by our people, they’re fully investigated in a transparent way. … It was an absurd report.”

The following analysts are available for interviews:

REED BRODY
Brody is special counsel with Human Rights Watch, which recently released the report “Getting Away with Torture? Command Responsibility for the U.S. Abuse of Detainees.” Brody said this afternoon: “There is nothing ‘transparent’ in the U.S.’s handling of prisoners. Some are held in offshore prisons like Guantanamo which are off-limits to human rights groups, and some have ‘disappeared’ into ‘secret locations,’ while yet others are sent to dungeons in Syria and Egypt to be interrogated. Thirteen months after the Abu Ghraib photos, there still has not been one independent investigation into the widespread allegations of detainee abuse.”
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MARJORIE COHN
Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, executive vice president of the National Lawyers Guild and author of the new article “Close Guantánamo Prison.” She said today: “The U.S. government insists on keeping many photographs and results of some investigations secret. The reports of torture of prisoners in U.S. custody have become the symbol of U.S. hypocrisy worldwide, and no high-level officials have been investigated for their roles in setting the policies that lead to torture. Congress should establish a truly independent commission to do a thorough investigation, no matter whom it might implicate. And, as the head of U.S. Amnesty International said, if the U.S. continues to shirk its responsibility, other countries should prosecute senior U.S. officials for violation of the Torture Convention, citing Britain’s arrest of [former Chilean leader] Augusto Pinochet.”

MICHAEL RATNER
President of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Ratner is co-author of the book Guantánamo: What the World Should Know. He said today: “Rumsfeld approved the use of dogs, stress positions, stripping, hooding, poking, removal of religious objects — a series of interrogation techniques that amount to torture. The FBI has documented the use of grabbing people’s genitals and smearing menstrual blood in an effort to violate detainees’ religious beliefs. The U.S. government is not holding people accountable. In our effort to bring these violators of international human rights to justice, the Center for Constitutional Rights is suing Rumsfeld for torture in Guantánamo and we are using the ‘Pinochet principle’ — the idea that leaders at the highest level of government are responsible for their crimes and should be brought to justice wherever they are — by pursuing criminal charges against Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzales and Gen. Ricardo Sanchez in Germany.”
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MATT ROTHSCHILD
Editor of the Progressive magazine, Rothschild recently wrote the article “Stripping Rumsfeld and Bush of Impunity.” He said today: “The Bush administration’s legal troubles don’t end with Sanchez or Gonzales. They go right to the top: to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and President Bush himself. Both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International USA say there is ‘prima facie’ evidence against Rumsfeld for war crimes and torture. And Amnesty International USA says there is also ‘prima facie’ evidence against Bush for war crimes and torture.”

Rothschild added: “Amnesty International USA has even taken the extraordinary step of calling on officials in other countries to apprehend Bush and Rumsfeld and other high-ranking members of the administration who have played a part in the torture scandal. The Geneva Conventions and the torture treaty ‘place a legally binding obligation on states that have ratified them to exercise universal jurisdiction over persons accused of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions,’ Amnesty International USA said. ‘If anyone suspected of involvement in the U.S. torture scandal visits or transits through foreign territories, governments could take legal steps to ensure that such individuals are investigated and charged with applicable crimes.'”
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[Background:] Amnesty International stated upon the release of its recent report: “While the U.S. government has failed to conduct a genuinely independent and comprehensive investigation, the officials implicated in these crimes are nonetheless subject to investigation and possible arrest by other nations while traveling abroad.” The organization thus “called on foreign governments to uphold their obligations under international law by investigating U.S. officials implicated in the development or implementation of interrogation techniques that constitute torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167