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Saturday, January 15, 2005

japantoday > world Human rights group criticizes  U.S.

Friday, January 14, 2005 at 07:36 JST
WASHINGTON — The Bush administration should appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the abuse of detainees at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to regain the United States' credibility around the world, a human rights group said Thursday.
"Special prosecutors have been appointed for far lesser crimes," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of New York-based Human Rights Watch.

"All that's happened is a flurry of self-investigation," he added, as the group released its annual report on human rights in 60 countries. "There is an urgent need to reinstate the prohibition of torture and to redeem the Unites States' credibility."
An independent commission headed by James R Schlesinger agreed with the Bush administration in August 2004 that the blame for the abuses at Abu Ghraib lies mainly with the American soldiers who ran the jail. But the panel also said senior commanders and top-level Pentagon officials — including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld — can be faulted for failed leadership and oversight.
The near-certainty of attorney general nominee Alberto Gonzales's confirmation to head the Justice Department adds urgency to an independent probe of abuses of detainees, Roth said.
As White House counsel, Gonzales issued a legal opinion to Bush saying terrorists captured overseas by Americans do not merit the human rights protections of the Geneva Conventions. He also said at confirmation hearings last week that he was sickened by accounts that American officials tortured prisoners at Abu Ghraib.
"We can no longer have any confidence that a genuine independent investigation can be launched by the Justice Department," Roth said.
At stake is the United States' credibility as world leader on human rights and in the fight against terrorism, he said.
The report cited two matters as posing "fundamental threats to human rights" around the world: treatment of the detainees and the ethnic cleansing in Darfur, Sudan, in which tens of thousands have died and millions displaced in a civil war.
Human Rights Watch said the United Nations or "any responsible group of governments" should deploy a force to protect the civilian population and create secure conditions for people to return home.
"Continued inaction risks undermining a fundamental human rights principle: That the nations of the world will never let sovereignty stand in the way of their responsibility to protect people from mass atrocities," Human Rights Watch said.
"The vitality of human rights defense worldwide depends on a firm response to both of these threats," Human Rights Watch concluded.
Elsewhere in the more than 500-page report, the group said there is growing evidence of conflicts between religious communities and the human rights movement, and a backlash against movements for the rights of sexual minorities. Human Rights Watch argues against "efforts in the name of religion, tradition, or morals to censor expression or limit the behavior of others." (Wire reports)

Thursday, January 13, 2005

White House fought curbs on interrogations- NYT

White House fought curbs on interrogations- NYT

White House fought curbs on interrogations- NYT
NEW YORK, Jan. 13 — At the urging of the White House, congressional leaders scrapped a legislative measure last month that would have imposed new restrictions on the use of extreme interrogation measures by American intelligence officers, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

The defeat of the proposal affected one of the most obscure arenas of the war on terrorism, involving the CIA's secret detention and interrogation of top terror leaders, according to the newspaper, citing congressional officials.
The Senate had approved the new restrictions, by a 96-2 vote, as part of the intelligence reform legislation, the article said. They would have explicitly extended to intelligence officers a prohibition against torture or inhumane treatment and would have required the CIA as well as the Pentagon to report to Congress about the methods they were using, said the report on the Times' Web site.
In closed-door negotiations, four senior members from the House and Senate deleted the restrictions from the final bill after the White House expressed opposition, the Times reported.
In a letter to members of Congress, sent in October and made available by the White House Wednesday in response to inquiries, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice expressed opposition to the measure on the grounds it ''provides legal protections to foreign prisoners to which they are not now entitled under applicable law and policy,'' according to the report. Rice is secretary of state-designate.
In interviews Wednesday, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a Republican negotiator, and Rep. Jane Harman of California, a Democratic negotiator, said the lawmakers ultimately decided the question of whether to extend the restrictions to intelligence officers was too complex to be included in the legislation, according to the report.
Some Democratic congressional officials said they believed the Bush administration was trying to maintain some legal latitude for the CIA to use interrogation practices more extreme than those permitted by the military, the article said.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Japantoday > world Gingrich open to presidentialĂ‚  run

Sunday, January 9, 2005 at 07:30 JST
WASHINGTON Ă‚— Newt Gingrich is taking steps toward a potential presidential bid in 2008 with a book criticizing President George Bush's policies on Iraq and a tour of early campaign states.
The former House speaker who led Republicans to power a decade ago said he soon will visit Iowa and New Hampshire to promote his book, try to influence public policy and keep his political options alive.

"Anything seems possible," including a White House race, Gingrich said.
The quotable and controversial former Georgia congressman, who now runs a consulting firm in Washington, is promoting, "Winning the Future: A 21st Century Contract with America." He seemed to welcome the thought that a book tour will increase speculation about his political aspirations.
"It never hurts to maximize opportunities. That's the American tradition," Gingrich said. "If I can influence the reporters and political activists in Iowa and New Hampshire, they will influence the candidates."
Asked if he might be a candidate himself, Gingrich said. "For an Army brat from Pennsylvania who became the only Georgia Republican in the House and the first Republican Speaker of the House in 40 years, anything seems possible. I don't think it's very likely. On the other hand, if I have an impact on public policy and do it in a way that is exciting and positive, why wouldn't I want to do that?"
Gingrich said he hopes newspapers in Iowa and New Hampshire seize on issues raised in his book. "If that means that every candidate will be hit by those questions, at a minimum I have helped shape policy," he said.
"And, at a maximum, other things might happen," he said.
Republicans close to Gingrich said he privately has mused about potentially running for president in 2008 or beyond. These officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because Gingrich would not approve of public speculation, said odds are against him seeking and winning the White House.
If nothing else, they said, Gingrich understands that talk could help sell his book, which goes on sale Monday.
Gingrich, who helped develop the "Contract with America" and end four decades of Democratic power in the House, built the book around a post-Sept 11 update to the 1994 political manifesto.
He says America's early-century goals should be to defeat terrorism, stop driving God from public life, develop "patriotic" immigration and education policies, harness modern science and technology and establish personal social security accounts.
While giving Bush credit for recognizing the threats posed by terror, Gingrich said U.S. intelligence capabilities are one-third of the size needed. On Iraq, he writes that the Bush administration erred by creating a U.S.-led provisional authority instead of quickly creating an interim government as it did in Afghanistan.
He also accused the administration of underestimating the effect of anti-U.S. propaganda from the Arab rule and lacking a strategy to deal with insurgents. "This lack of strategic planning led to the tragedy of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal," Gingrich wrote.
He said Bush had signed off on an adequate postwar plan, but it was abandoned by former Iraq administrator L Paul Bremer.
"When Bremer arrived, he thought he was MacArthur in Japan" during post-World War II reconstruction, Gingrich said. "He thought he had five years to build an Americentric model. He just basically amputated the entire postwar plan."
Bremer, in an opinion column in The New York Times in October, said it was no secret that he had tactical disagreements with military commanders and others while in Iraq. But he said he underscored his "constant public support for the president's strategy in Iraq and his policies to fight terrorism."
Despite his criticism of Bremer, Gingrich said the official should not be a scapegoat for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Vice President Dick Cheney and Bush. "Whatever mistakes Bremer made were not corrected by his bosses, who were Rumsfeld, Powell, Cheney and the president," Gingrich said.
Those men were apparently too exhausted or focused on Bush's re-election campaign to curb Bremer, he said. Bush recently awarded Bremer the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work in Iraq.
Had the president stuck with an Afghanistan-style postwar plan, his public approval rating would be sky-high "and the Arab world would be closer to democracy," Gingrich said. "But that is history now, and we must work our way out of it." (Wire reports)

Monday, January 10, 2005

BBC > Sudan leaders sign historic peace

The US secretary of state flew in to attend the ceremony Sudan's government and southern rebels have signed a comprehensive peace deal to end Africa's longest civil war.
South African President Thabo Mbeki and the US Secretary of State Colin Powell were among those attending the ceremony in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.
The war, which began nearly 50 years ago, has pitted the Muslim north against Christians and animists in the south, leaving some 1.5m people dead.
The peace deal does not cover the separate, newer conflict in Darfur.
United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has warned of worsening violence in Darfur, in western Sudan, where government-backed militia are accused of killing thousands as part of a campaign against rebels demanding more rights.
On the eve of the signing, Mr Powell said the end of the north-south civil war should spur on efforts to find a solution to the Darfur crisis.

Both sides will unify into 39,000-strong force if the south does not secede after six years
The south will have autonomy for six years followed by referendum for secession
Oil wealth
To be shared 50:50
To be split 70:30 in favour of the government in the central administration
To be split 55:45 in favour of the government in Abyei, Blue Nile State and the Nuba mountains
Islamic law
To remain in the north
Sharia in Khartoum to be decided by elected assembly And the main southern rebel leader, John Garang, said he hoped to be involved in peace talks on Darfur once he joined the planned national unity government.
"If I am invited, I will come. If I am not invited, I will ask to be invited," said Mr Garang, leader of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA).
Mr Garang, set to become a vice-president, will sign Sunday's peace deal with President Omar al-Bashir's government.
The BBC's Ishbel Matheson in Nairobi says the Kenyan government is so delighted by the success of these long and difficult negotiations that it is throwing open the event to ordinary people.
She adds that when the former enemies put their signatures to the peace pact, there will be celebrations not just in Sudan but across the region and among the Sudanese diaspora around the world.
Starting in July, the south will be autonomous for six years and will then vote in a referendum to decide whether to remain part of Sudan, or become independent.
Sudan's new oil wealth - currently producing about 320,000 barrels a day - is to be split equally between north and south.
Apart from an 11-year period from 1972-1983, southern Sudan has been at war continuously since 1956. Peace talks began in 2002.
In 1983, the government - dominated by northern Arabs - tried to impose Islamic Sharia law across Sudan, even in areas where the majority is not Muslim.
The peace deal being signed in Nairobi follows the signing of a permanent ceasefire on New Year's Eve.