WASHINGTON--June 1--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. 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.
Rumsfeld quotes (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.