Absurd Indeed

During a press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House yesterday President Bush dismissed out of hand the recently released 2005 Amnesty International Human Rights Report as “absurd.” Now aside from the fact that I seriously doubt the President read the report there is another reason this dismissal is in itself absurd. The report can not be dismissed as some left wing attack on the President. Amnesty International has a long and respected history in the area of human rights, a record that this administration did not hesitate to lean upon heavily when “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy” of preemptive war against Iraq.

As Thinkprogress rightly points out,

On March 27, 2003, Rumsfeld said:

We know that it’s a repressive regime…Anyone who has read Amnesty International or any of the human rights organizations about how the regime of Saddam Hussein treats his people…

The next day, Rumsfeld even cited his “careful reading” of Amnesty:

…[I]t seems to me a careful reading of Amnesty International or the record of Saddam Hussein, having used chemical weapons on his own people as well as his neighbors, and the viciousness of that regime, which is well known and documented by human rights organizations, ought not to be surprised.

And on April 1, 2003, Rumsfeld said once again:

[I]f you read the various human rights groups and Amnesty International’s description of what they know has gone on, it’s not a happy picture.

It would certainly benefit the administration to apply this “careful reading” concept to the current Amnesty report since it is not based on any new information but could definitely shed some light on why so many people in the world consider the U.S. the ultimate of international hypocrites. The two most damning paragraphs in this report simply state the obvious;

The blatant disregard for international human rights and humanitarian law in the “war on terror” continued to make a mockery of President George Bush’s claims that the USA was the global champion of human rights. Images of detainees in US custody tortured in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq shocked the world. War crimes in Iraq, and mounting evidence of the torture and ill-treatment of detainees in US custody in other countries, sent an unequivocal message to the world that human rights may be sacrificed ostensibly in the name of security.

President Bush’s refusal to apply the Geneva Conventions to those captured during the international armed conflict in Afghanistan and transferred to the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was challenged by a judicial decision in November. The ruling resulted in the suspension of trials by military commission in Guantanamo, and the government immediately lodged an appeal. The US administration’s treatment of detainees in the “war on terror” continued to display a marked ambivalence to the opinion of expert bodies such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and even of its own highest judicial body. Six months after the Supreme Court ruled that the federal courts had jurisdiction over the Guantanamo detainees, none had appeared in court. Detainees reportedly considered of high intelligence value remained in secret detention in undisclosed locations. In some cases their situation amounted to “disappearance.”

In an effort to deflect attention (or more exactly to discredit the message) Bush claimed that the allegations of torture at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and other detention facilities around the globe were uncredible because they came from “prisoners who hate America.” Nice try Dubya but these people who supposedly hate America are actually people who we held in detention, some of them for years, without charges, who were then released because they were INNOCENT and subsequently reported on the abuses they experienced. Again, if these were terrorists who hate America then why the hell did we release them?

The administration wants us all to forget the hundreds of pictures from Abu Ghraib, the reports of environmental manipulation, stress positions, sensory manipulation, attack dogs, water boarding, and other benign sounding torture methods. While this may work for some of the most effectively indoctrinated “President can do no wrong” folks I simply do not buy it. If the President wants us to believe that we are not abusing prisoners then he should prove it by conducting a thorough investigation into these allegations of torture. But of course THAT would be absurd now wouldn’t it?

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