Report Condemns U.S. Torture in Iraq

October 31, 2004

In a 200-page report issued on October 27, Amnesty International denounced the U.S. government for its use of torture in Iraq.

The group's report, entitled "Human Dignity Denied. Torture and Accountability in the 'War on Terror'," accuses the United States of a two-faced policy saying it abused prisoners of war while violating standards it routinely applies in criticizing other governments.

According to the report, "The photographs of torture and ill-treatment of detainees in Abu Ghraib prison did not come out of the blue, but followed numerous allegations of abuse in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay raised with the U.S. authorities over the previous two years...When it suited the U.S. government's aims in its buildup to the invasion of Iraq, the administration cited Amnesty International's reports on torture in that country, [but] when the alleged abuse involved U.S. agents, its response was denial and disregard for the organization's concerns."

It also states:

"The US administration's condemnation [of torture] has been paper thin, as shown by the series of government memorandums that have come into the public domain since the Abu Ghraib scandal broke. These documents suggest that far from ensuring that the "war on terror" would be conducted without resort to human rights violations, the administration was discussing ways in which its agents might avoid the international prohibition on torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment...

"In the "war on terror", the USA has itself undermined the rule of law. Its selective disregard for the Geneva Conventions and international human rights law has contributed to torture and ill-treatment...It is clear that the decision to reject the protections of the Geneva Conventions in the "war on terror" outside Iraq has infected official thinking in the USA....

"Allegations of abuse by US forces in Afghanistan have been persistent...from December 2002 (there are also allegations of abuse from before then), [US] interrogators in Afghanistan were removing clothing, isolating people for long periods of time, using stress positions, exploiting fear of dogs and implementing sleep and light deprivation."

"In Iraq, the allegations of abuse have not been restricted to Abu Ghraib. For example, three Iraqi nationals working for Reuters news agency have alleged that they were subjected to torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment by US soldiers while held in military detention near Fallujah...

Amnesty said military investigations have proven that alleged U.S. abuses have not been confined either to Abu Ghraib or to a few soldiers. In September, the report points out, eight former U.S. generals and admirals admitted in a letter to U.S. President George W. Bush that "there are now dozens of well-documented allegations of torture, abuse and otherwise questionable detention practices" in prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay.

The report criticizes U.S. policy as hypocritical, pointing out that George Bush and other U.S. officials repeatedly proclaim their "respect for human dignity," but "The USA's detention and interrogation policies in the "war on terror" have left such words ringing hollow."

Another section of the report states: "Throughout the 'war on terror', the US administration has repeatedly stated that it is committed to the rule of law as one of the 'non-negotiable demands of human dignity'. This is clearly far from the case if it believes that there is no legal limit to what the President can instruct the armed forces to do, including blatant violations of international law."