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U.S. Sowing Fear?

Aired May 28, 2003 - 20:20   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: First up, the 6:00 a.m. hour Eastern time. That is when Amnesty International released its annual human rights report and took a shot at the U.S. and its war on terror.
CNN's State Department correspondent, Andrea Koppel, reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The U.S. may have won the war in Iraq, but Amnesty International says in 2002 the U.S. lost the battle for human rights.

WILLIAM SCHULZ, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: The Bush administration, while it was occupied spending billions to dethrone Saddam Hussein, failed to condemn or thwart other dictators and rebels who wreaked havoc on millions.

RICHARD BOUCHER, STATE DEPT. SPOKESMAN: We reject any criticism, any allegations that our human rights efforts have diminished.

KOPPEL: As proof of U.S. neglect, the Amnesty report cites a number of what it calls "forgotten conflicts," in Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nepal and the Ivory Coast.

In the Ivory Coast, Amnesty alleges that despite abductions, assassinations, rape, torture, and the displacement of thousands of people the U.S. played politics.

SCHULZ: In what can only be characterized as petulance the Bush administration vented its displeasure with France for its opposition to military action in Iraq by opposing an increase in the level of the French-led U.N. peacekeeping effort in Ivory Coast.

KOPPEL: On the flip side, the report also suggests the U.S. has rewarded some countries that Amnesty claims have spotty human rights, like the Philippines, because they did support the war in Iraq.

Just last week, President Bush announced the U.S. Plans to provide Manila $95 million in military aid.

Another Amnesty allegation -- using the war on terror as camouflage, the U.S. has turned a blind eye to human rights abuses abroad, in places like Chechnya, where Russia is fighting a civil war; and at home, where thousands of Arabs and Muslims were forced to register with the INS, and in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where more than 600 detainees from the war in Afghanistan continue to be held without charge or legal representation.

The White House rejected the criticism out of hand.

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECY.: Prisoners in Guantanamo are being treated humanely. They're receiving medical care. They're receiving food. They're receiving far better treatment than they received in the life that they were living previously.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KOPPEL: The bottom line, according to Amnesty International, is that the U.S.-led war on terror, far from making the world safer, has actually made it a more dangerous place for compromising human rights around the globe -- Anderson.

COOPER: Andrea Koppel, thanks very much tonight.

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