We observe United Nations Human Rights Day, Dec. 10, with a sobering realization: In the opinion of hundreds of millions of people around the world, the Bush administration has become the worst human rights abuser of any regime in the world. Consider the following:

• George W. Bush proclaims the right to unleash pre-emptive war, the greatest of all destroyers of human rights, against nations like Iraq that have not attacked the U.S.

• Bush and his underlings have proclaimed the right to detain without criminal charges so-called “enemy combatants” and to hold them permanently without trial or legal representation.

• The Bush administration is holding an unknown number of these detainees in a global network of “black sites,” secret prisons in addition to those at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and Bagram Air Base, where they have been tortured or even murdered outright. Many of the victims were abducted by the Pentagon or CIA and secretly transported to these prisons in an operation called “extreme rendition.”

The administration justifies these abuses in the name of “war on terrorism” — necessary, they claim, to defend “freedom” and the “vital interests of the United States.”

But the Bush-Cheney gang is facing an angry backlash everywhere. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice could not escape a firestorm over U.S. secret detention activities in Europe during her recent trip to the continent. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against Cheney for his role in promoting torture. And in Tampa, Fla., a jury acquitted Professor Sami Al-Arian on a host of trumped up charges and refused to find him guilty on others. The Bush administration should admit defeat and drop the remaining charges against Dr. Al-Arian. The outcome of this trial is more proof that the Patriot Act should be repealed.

We can begin to reclaim the honor of our nation by forcing our government to end the illegal war on Iraq and by embracing a policy that abides by international law while upholding our own Bill of Rights here at home.