The White House is rejecting claims by Amnesty International that the U.S.-led war on terror appears more effective in eroding international human rights than in fighting terrorism. The human rights group's annual report says Washington's efforts to redefine torture have given other nations license to violate human rights with impunity.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan says Amnesty's allegations are ridiculous and unsupported by the facts.
"The United States is leading the way when it comes to protecting human rights and promoting human dignity," Mr. McClellan said. "We have liberated 50 million people in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have worked to advance freedom and democracy in the world so that people are governed under a rule of law and that there are protections in place for minority rights."
Mr. McClellan says the Bush administration is helping advance women's rights and is leading the way in spreading compassion by funding efforts to fight the spread of AIDS.
Amnesty said the United States sets the human rights standard worldwide and is the most important role model for other nations. But its report also says, what it calls, "blatant disregard for international human rights ... in the 'war on terror" makes a mockery of President Bush's claim that America is the global champion of human rights.
Amnesty 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.
Mr. McClellan says the ongoing prosecution of many of those involved in the widely publicized abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison shows that the United States is serious about protecting human rights.
"We are a society based on laws and values," he said. "Not just laws but also values that we hold dearly, and certainly what you bring up has been a stain on the image of the United States abroad. But if you look at how we address these matters, it shows our commitment to human rights and human dignity. We hold people accountable when there is abuse. We take steps to prevent it from happening again, and we do so in a very public way for the world to see that we lead by example."
The Amnesty report also criticizes the Bush administration for pressuring other governments to sign what it calls unlawful immunity agreements shielding U.S. personnel from the International Criminal Court.
President Bush says he will not allow American soldiers or diplomats to appear before a tribunal where the United States has no voice and could be used for political purposes.