Bush Has Confidence in Iraqi Government, Calls Human Rights Report 'Absurd'

George W. Bush
President Bush says an Iraqi military offensive to stop violence around the capital, Baghdad, is a positive step that shows the country is moving closer to handling more of its own security. Mr. Bush is dismissing allegations by Amnesty International that U.S. abuse of Iraqi prisoners has given other nations license to violate human rights with impunity.

President Bush says he is heartened to see Iraq's government committing 40,000 soldiers and police to an anti-insurgency operation around Baghdad.

In a Rose Garden news conference, Mr. Bush called it a sign that Iraqi leaders understand that it is ultimately their own responsibility to stop an insurgency which the president says fears democracy.

"What you are seeing is a group of frustrated and desperate people who kill innocent life, and obviously we mourn the loss of every life," he said. "But I believe the Iraqi government is going to be plenty capable of dealing with them, and our job is to help train them so they can."

Mr. Bush says it is important for Americans to understand that a democratic Iraq at the heart of the Middle East is an essential part in securing the United States and promoting peace in the long run.

He says democracy in Iraq will be a powerful example in what he calls a neighborhood desperate for freedom, and it is important for America to complete the mission.

President Bush dismissed criticism from Amnesty International that what it calls Washington's "blatant disregard for international human rights" makes a mockery of the president's claim that America is a global champion of human rights.

Amnesty's annual report says war crimes in Iraq and what it calls "mounting evidence of the torture and ill-treatment of detainees in U.S. custody in other countries" sends an unequivocal message to the world that human rights may be sacrificed in the name of security.

President Bush says those allegations are absurd, pointing to the ongoing prosecution of some of those involved in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal as evidence of America's commitment to transparency and human rights.

"The United States is a country that promotes freedom around the world," he said. "When there are accusations made about certain actions by our people, they are fully investigated in a transparent way. It is just an absurd allegation."

Mr. Bush says thousands of people have been detained in the fight against terrorism and all allegations of abuse have been investigated. He says it seems like some of the Amnesty report is based on the word of people who hate America and have been trained to lie.

Amnesty says Washington's treatment of detainees continues to display what it calls a "marked ambivalence" to the opinions of the International Committee of the Red Cross and to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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