Human Rights Watch calls for Obama to prosecute Bush

Amanda Seitz Contributor
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Human Rights Watch is pressuring President Barack Obama to investigate and criminally prosecute former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney.

The group says there is “overwhelming evidence” that the Bush administration ordered the torture and abuse of various detainees. Its allegations are contained in a 107-page report.

“There are solid grounds to investigate Bush, Cheney, [Donald] Rumsfeld, and [CIA Director George] Tenet for authorizing torture and war crimes,” Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth wrote in a press release. “President Obama has treated torture as an unfortunate policy choice rather than a crime.”

The report asks other countries to prosecute Bush and several of his top aides (if the United States does not take legal action) for violating international law.

“The U.S. has a legal obligation to investigate these crimes,” Roth wrote in the statement. “If the U.S. doesn’t act on them, other countries should.”

The report also discredits the Bush administration’s consultations with legal counsel over the permissibility of waterboarding and illegal detention, arguing that such precautions don’t lessen the severity of the crime. (McConnell: Give Obama new powers on debt limit)

The Human Rights Watch report comes after the Department of Justice ended a two-year review of the CIA on June 30. The DOJ analyzed the treatment of more than 100 foreign detainees, leading to a criminal investigation of the deaths of two detained terror suspects. The Human Rights Watch report called the investigations “insufficient.”

Human Rights Watch says its mission is to protect “the human rights of people around the world,” but in doing so the group has attracted a number of critics.

In 2009, the retired founder of Human Rights Watch openly chastised the group’s unfair condemnations of Israel and questioned its current direction.