(New York, NY) - Today Dr. William F. Schulz, Executive Director of Amnesty International
USA, made the following statement in response to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld:
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
U.S. 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 United States 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
United States 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.