News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
MONDAY, MAY 8, 2006


U.S. should show the world it stands for human rights

It is sad to see repeated allegations that the United States government tortures people.

The London-based human rights group Amnesty International last week gave a report to the U.N. Committee Against Torture. "Evidence continues to emerge of widespread torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees held in U.S. custody in Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Iraq and other locations," the report said.

The United States says it opposes torture. A Pentagon spokesman says the Defense Department standard is "humane treatment of detainees."

We're sure many accusations being made against the United States are false. Certainly most of them haven't been publicly documented. But what's missing here is a strong statement from the top of the U.S. government that not only does the United States not condone torture, it condemns it and believes in human dignity. That statement needs to be backed up by strict enforcement of high standards.

In discussing this subject awhile back, we quoted Republican President Reagan's description of America as a "shining city on a hill." His Democratic predecessor, President Carter, made human rights a centerpiece of his foreign policy and declared that "we want the world to know that our nation stands for more than financial prosperity."

We long for the days when international human-rights advocates and the United States of America were usually on the same side.

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