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Is the war on terror having ripple effect?

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WASHINGTON (AP) - The Bush administration's war on terror has become a popular excuse for world leaders cracking down on opposition groups and silencing dissent, a human rights group said Wednesday.

A report by the Human Rights Watch said some governments have "latched on to the United States' anti-terror campaign."

It said the chief offenders are Russia, Uzbekistan and Egypt - which the report says are waging indefensible wars against political opponents, not terrorists.

"Terrorists believe that anything goes in the name of their cause," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of the New York-based group. "The fight against terror must not buy into that logic. Human rights principles must not be compromised in the name of any cause."

The State Department declined to comment on the report.

Roth also had concerns about whether detainees transferred from Afghanistan to a U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were provided adequate shelter.

"In our view, being held in cages with tin roofs over your head is not humane treatment," he said during a news conference at the National Press Club. Roth said he has spoken to Cuban political prisoners who "shivered away the night this time of year" in similar conditions.

He dismissed Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's claims that the detainees were being treated better at the base than in Afghanistan: "It's utterly beyond the point."

"Americans would be utterly appalled if an American soldier captured overseas were stuck in a cage with a tin roof the way the United States is now treating these captured detainees," Roth said. "This is just not acceptable, and I hope that the secretary stop these PR defenses."

The report notes that Russian President Vladimir Putin has defended escalating military action in Chechnya as a part of the war against terror. U.N. officials have criticized the Russian government for some of its responses to hit-and-run attacks by Chechnyan rebels.