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Cheney offended by Amnesty criticism

Rights group accuses U.S. of violations at Guantanamo Bay


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Vice President Cheney: "I think these people have been well treated, treated humanely and decently."
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Vice President Dick Cheney reacts to Amnesty criticism.
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Guantanamo Bay Naval Base (Cuba)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday he was offended by Amnesty International's condemnation of the United States for what it called "serious human rights violations" at Guantanamo Bay.

"For Amnesty International to suggest that somehow the United States is a violator of human rights, I frankly just don't take them seriously," he said in an interview that aired Monday night on CNN's "Larry King Live."

Amnesty International was scathing last week in its criticism of the way the United States has run the detention center at its naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"We have documented that the U.S. government is a leading purveyor and practitioner of the odious human rights violation," William Schulz, executive director of Amnesty International USA, said Wednesday.

On its Web site, the London, England-based human rights group says: "As evidence of torture and widespread cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment mounts, it is more urgent than ever that the U.S. government bring the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and any other facilities it is operating outside the USA into full compliance with international law and standards. The only alternative is to close them down."

The vice president said the United States has freed millions of people from oppression.

"I think the fact of the matter is, the United States has done more to advance the cause of freedom, has liberated more people from tyranny over the course of the 20th century and up to the present day than any other nation in the history of the world," he said.

"Just in this administration, we've liberated 50 million people from the Taliban in Afghanistan and from Saddam Hussein in Iraq, two terribly repressive regimes that slaughtered hundreds of thousands of their own people."

Cheney denied American wrongdoing at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, which Amnesty International compared to a "gulag."

"Guantanamo's been operated, I think, in a very sane and sound fashion by the U.S. military. ... I think these people have been well treated, treated humanely and decently," Cheney said. "Occasionally there are allegations of mistreatment.

"But if you trace those back, in nearly every case, it turns out to come from somebody who has been inside and been released ... to their home country and now are peddling lies about how they were treated."

Schulz responded to Cheney's comments: "It doesn't matter whether he takes Amnesty International seriously.

"He doesn't take torture seriously; he doesn't take the Geneva Convention seriously; he doesn't take due process rights seriously; and he doesn't take international law seriously.

"And that is more important than whether he takes Amnesty International seriously."

On Thursday, the commander of the Guantanamo Bay detention center said an investigation had identified five incidents in which the Quran appears to have been mishandled by his personnel.

But Brig. Gen. Jay Hood said he has found "no credible evidence" that personnel at the military prison flushed a Quran in a toilet. (Full story)

On the issue of Iraq, Cheney told King that he believes the insurgency there is "in the last throes." He also predicted the fighting would end before the Bush administration leaves office. (Full story)


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