The US abdicated its responsibility to set a global example in upholding human rights in 2004 and, with the UK, led a "dangerous new agenda" by sanctioning torture in a failed attempt to combat terrorism, Amnesty International warned today.
The US came in for particular criticism over its pronouncements on torture and for "usurping the language of justice and freedom to pursue policies of fear and insecurity", she told a London press conference.
"The USA, as the unrivalled political, military and economic hyperpower, sets the tone for governmental behaviour worldwide," she said. "When the most powerful country in the world thumbs its nose at the rule of law and human rights, it grants a licence to others to commit abuse with impunity."
"The detention facility at Guantánamo Bay has become the gulag of our times, entrenching the practice of arbitrary and indefinite detention in violation of international law," she said. " Guantánamo evokes memories of Soviet repression."
Ms Khan likened the Bush administration's practice of holding unregistered prisoners, or "ghost detainees", at secret locations to tactics deployed in some Latin American countries.
Welcome to the New American Empire: Preemptive war and torture.
More available via Amnesty's Annual Report on Human Rights Abuses.