WASHINGTON, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- A Bush administration official has rejected a claim by a U.N. official that torture in Iraq is worse now than under former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
The U.S. State Department official was reacting to Austrian law Professor Manfred Nowak, who serves as the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, The Times of London reported Friday.
"What most people tell you is that the situation as far as torture is concerned now in Iraq is totally out of hand," Nowak said. "The situation is so bad many people say it is worse than in the times of Saddam Hussein."
Nowak, who has never been to Iraq, said his statement was based on interviews in Amman, Jordan, and other locations. He spoke after a U.N. report revealed that 6,599 Iraqi civilians had been killed in July and August, and many of the victims had been tortured.
"How anyone could compare state-sanctioned torture under a dictator to the situation today is beyond us," the State Department official told The Times. "We don't agree with his assessment of the situation at all."