By Bob Dart
05/26/05 "Cox News
" - - WASHINGTON - Amnesty International USA urged foreign governments Wednesday to use international law to investigate Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and other alleged American "architects of torture" at Abu Ghraib,
Guantanamo Bay and other prisons where detainees suspected of ties to terrorist groups have been interrogated.
those investigations support prosecution, the governments should arrest any official who enters their territory and begin
legal proceedings against them," said William Shulz, executive director of the U.S. branch of the international human rights
In its annual report on "The State of the World's Human Rights," Amnesty International said the U.S. Navy base
at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, "has become the gulag of our times" and accused U.S. officials of flaunting international law in
their treatment of detainees.
There is no statute of limitations on crimes such as torture, Shulz said.
years to come, the director warned, "the apparent high-level architects of torture should think twice before planning their
next vacation to places like Acapulco or the French Riviera because they may find themselves under arrest as Augusto Pinochet
famously did in London in 1998."
Gen. Pinochet, a former dictator of Chile, was arrested on an international warrant
issued by a Spanish judge while Pinochet was in England receiving medical treatment.
Charged with torturing Spanish
citizens in Chile, he was held under house arrest in England for more than a year but eventually returned to his homeland
and escaped an international trial.
If the United States "continues to shirk its responsibility" of investigating allegations
of abuse to the top of the chain of command, Shulz said, foreign governments should uphold their obligations under international
law by investigating all senior U.S. officials involved.
Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, called the
charges "unsupported by the facts."
The well-publicized abuses of detainees have been a "stain on the image of the
United States abroad," he conceded, but the exposures only reinforced the administration's commitment to human rights.
hold people accountable when there is abuse," he said.
Amnesty International's demand for international action came
as a private activist group that spans the ideological spectrum called for President Bush and Congress to appoint an independent,
bipartisan panel, modeled after the Sept. 11 commission, to investigate the "various allegations of abuse of terrorist suspects."
group calling for appointment of such a commission ranged from former Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., American Conservative Union Chairman
David Keene and former Rep. Mickey Edwards, R-Okla., on the right to Thomas Pickering, the former U.S. Ambassador to the United
Nations, and Morton Halperin of the Center for American Progress on the left.
Pickering said his conversations during
recent international travels confirmed the damage that prisoner abuse charges have done to the nation, disheartening our allies
and giving ammunition to our enemies.
But others on the panel said they were not as concerned about foreign reaction
as with domestic values.
"We should be opposed to this (torture) because of who we are -- not what they think," said
In issuing the Amnesty International report, Shulz specifically named those he regarded as potential "high-level
In addition to Rumsfeld and Gonzales, they included former CIA Director George Tenet; Lt. Gen.
Ricardo Sanchez, the former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq; Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, commander of the Joint Task Force
Guantanamo; and Douglas Feith, the under secretary of defense for policy.
Shulz said the Geneva Conventions and the
Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment legally bind the countries that have signed them
to exercise "universal jurisdiction" on people suspected of violations.
Certain crimes, including torture, amount to
offenses against all of humanity so all countries have a responsibility to investigate and prosecute people responsible for
such crimes, he said.
Copyright: Night Ridder