Gonzales Says U.S. Image Hurt by Actions

The Associated Press
Tuesday, October 24, 2006; 4:48 PM

MADRID, Spain -- U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Tuesday he believes some of the U.S. actions in its war on terror have done damage to the image of the United States abroad, particularly its commitment to the rule of law.

The U.S. has drawn criticism around the world for the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq, its treatment of detainees and secret renditions of terrorism suspects to clandestine prisons in allied countries where they are allegedly tortured.

"The notion that the United States does not fully support the rule of law is one I find very disappointing," Gonzales told reporters, especially given that President Bush "believes the Unites States is the leader, is a beacon of hope in the world and it's important that our actions should reflect a total commitment to the rule of law."

He blamed the country's deteriorating image on misunderstanding in Europe about what the U.S. is doing to fight terrorism.

"Part of the misunderstanding is the fault of the United States in the sense that we need to be out there more, talking about what we are doing and why," he said.

Gonzales was in Madrid for the sixth meeting of a working group set up two years ago to coordinate the fight against terrorism and other police matters.

Gonzales dismissed criticism that prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility were in legal limbo and said the recent Military Commissions Act ensured fair trials for terrorists and guarantees that evidence acquired through torture will not be used.

"The Military Commissions Act reflects a careful balance by our Congress to respect the rights of terrorists to receive a fair trial but to do so at a time when we are still at war with the enemy," Gonzales said.

Bush signed the act into law last week after a highly publicized dispute with key Republicans over the terms of the legislation. Civil libertarians and leading Democrats have decried the law as a violation of American values.

© 2006 The Associated Press