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White House denies deliberate US rights abuses alleged in HRW report

[JURIST] White House spokesperson Scott McClellan Wednesday dismissed findings from the latest Human Rights Watch annual report [PDF text; JURIST report] alleging that the US has made deliberate and blatant use of torture and the inhumane treatment of prisoners in its "war on terror". HRW Executive Director Kenneth Roth wrote in the report's introduction:

Any discussion of detainee abuse in 2005 must begin with the United States, not because it is the worst violator but because it is the most influential. New evidence demonstrated that the problem was much greater than it first appeared after the shocking revelations of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Indeed, the sexual degradation glimpsed in the Abu Ghraib photos was so outlandish that it made it easier for the Bush administration to deny having had anything to do with it—to pretend that the abuse erupted spontaneously at the lowest levels of the military chain of command and could be corrected with the prosecution of a handful of privates and sergeants...

Still, it is one thing to create an environment in which abuse of detainees flourishes, quite another to order that abuse directly. In 2005 it became disturbingly clear that the abuse of detainees had become a deliberate, central part of the Bush administration’s strategy for interrogating terrorist suspects.
McClellan, who had not yet seen the report at the time of his press briefing, contended [press briefing text] that it was “based more on a political agenda than on facts” and that it should have focused more on countries “denying people human dignity and violating human rights.” The report [press release] also strongly criticized France, Germany and the UK for their ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the face of human rights abuse allegations in Chechnya [JURIST report], and expressed concern over the human rights situation in Asia [JURIST report]. BBC News has more.

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