meet your oppressor
6/3/05, the Bush administration lacked the courage to face its
accuser directly. Jim Lehrer of Newshour
on PBS moderated a discussion between Amnesty International and
the Bush administration. The topic was Amnesty's recent
allegations concerning prisoner abuse in the American version of
Stalin's Gulag Archipelago. Amnesty sent William Schulz, their
executive director in the
. Lehrer invited the Pentagon to send a representative. Instead,
they sent their proxy, Neil Livingston, CEO of Global Options, a
security firm with expertise on the subject of terrorism. Competing
emotions swelled within me as I watched Schulz and Livingston
speak. Elation and anger wrestled violently as they struggled to
become my predominant emotion.
clinical detachment, Livingston gave a typical Neocon justification
for the "Gulag of our Times" in
and other locations. Taking umbrage to Amnesty's gall in leveling
charges of human rights abuses against the morally superior
; he coolly stated that
was not even remotely similar to the Gulags under Stalin. Holding the
Neocon line, he denied that there was a problem with the
system of detention in the "war on terror". He stated that
the men confined in
were dangerous terrorists, and therefore were not entitled to
rights afforded under the Geneva Convention. He admitted that there
were some abuses, but minimized them, stating that they were rare
further justified the American Gulag with the fact that we
are at "war" and cannot risk freeing these prisoners until
the "war" is over.
and hope surged as Schulz cast a very different light on the
situation. He reminded viewers that the
military has committed 27 homicides throughout its network
of prisons, including
. Schulz exposed the fact that prisoners in the US Gulag system are
not confirmed terrorists because they have had no access to an
objective tribunal to rule on their culpability. He also spoke of the
"ghost detainees" who have disappeared, the US practice of
transferring prisoners to nations which condone torture, and the
fact that most of the prisoners in the "war on terror" have
been held without formal charges for over two years.
out that the
is in direct violation of the Geneva Convention, he defended Amnesty's
report condemning US human rights abuses. He also addressed Irene
Kahn's characterization of
as the "Gulag of our Times". Explaining that while it
was not a direct analogy, Shulz affirmed that there are many
similarities between Stalin's Gulag Archipelago, and the terrorist
prison network of the
. As Schulz declared, Irene Khan, the London-based director of Amnesty
International, is a native of
. Khan and Amnesty represent the viewpoints of the international
community, and their condemnation of the war crimes of the
government is not a politically-motivated attack. Schulz conveyed that
Amnesty applies the "gold standard" of respect for human
rights to each nation which it investigates. According to Schulz, the
vehement denials of wrongdoing by Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld closely
resembled those of countries such as Iran and North Korea, members of
Bush's so-called "Axis of Evil".
gives Amnesty International the credentials to challenge almighty
International came to be in 1961 as a result of a year long media
campaign initiated by Peter Benenson, a British attorney. He sparked
a year long publicity campaign by The Observer, a British newspaper.
The effort influenced people to launch protests against the detention
of prisoners of conscience. From these humble beginnings, Amnesty has
grown to a world-wide organization with more than a million members.
Acting on bedrock principles of independence and impartiality, the
group now champions the rights of prisoners of social conscience,
people facing torture and the death penalty, and individuals who have
"disappeared" for political reasons. Amnesty won the Nobel
Peace Prize in 1977 and in 1978 received a United Nations Human Rights
Award. Over the years, they have achieved a sterling reputation as an
activist organization shining the light of humanity on the ugly
violations of individual human rights throughout the world.
Irene Kahn's own words:
rights violations are not committed against the 'other side' but
against a mother, a sister, a brother, a son,"
challenge is to [stand] in solidarity with the victims, to know their
names, their faces, their identities, their stories."
cause can justify the abuse of human rights."
to them tap dance....and "flip flop"
the Bush administration has responded to Amnesty's allegations with
vehement and terse denials. In light of Amnesty's credibility and the
body of evidence against them, their words ring quite hollow.
Amnesty International to suggest that somehow the
is a violator of human rights, I frankly just don't take them
MClellan, the White House Press Secretary and spin-master:
think the allegations are ridiculous and unsupported by the facts. The
is leading the way when it comes to protecting human rights and
promoting human dignity.
there's accusations made about certain actions by our people, they're
fully investigated in a transparent way. It's just an absurd
seemed like [Amnesty] based some of their decisions on the word and
allegations by people who were held in detention, people who hate
America, people who had been trained in some instances to disassemble -
that means not tell the truth,"
so it was an absurd report. It just is."
true to form, when the White House needed Amnesty to promote the war
in 2003, they offered a much different opinion on Amnesty and their
findings concerning human rights abuses.
Amnesty leveled their charges against the US administration, Donald
Rumsfeld had this to say:
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...
...It 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.
The simple fact
is that Amnesty International has an established reputation
as an independent watchdog of human rights around the world. They have
not exhibited a pattern of targeting specific countries to further a
political agenda. Rumsfeld's statements provide evidence that the Bush
administration recognized Amnesty's authority on the matter of human
rights abuse when it suited their purposes. Now that Amnesty
has trained their cross-hairs on them, they are lashing out like
's leaders deride or attempt to discredit virtually every organization
or individual that has the audacity to challenge them. Smells
like tyranny to me.
In 1974 Aleksandr
Solzhenitsyn (a man who knew a bit about tyranny, Stalin and the Gulag
Archipelago) might as well have been talking about the Bush
administration when he said:
Violence can only be
concealed by a lie, and the lie can only be maintained by violence.
Any man who has once proclaimed violence as his method is inevitably
forced to take the lie as his principle.
Fear lies beneath their ire
Bush and his
cohorts are sweating. Amnesty has them in an angry, defensive mode
because they are afraid. Why do they fear? They know the
allegations are true. They also recognize that even the leaders of the
are subject to international law. The international court of public
opinion has already found them guilty, which does not bode well
for the Neocons. Gandhi's perpetuation of a large civil
disobedience movement in colonial
swayed world opinion to the degree that the British finally
relented and left
a sovereign nation. The Bush regime comprehends that the
movement against their corrupt abuses of power is
gaining momentum both domestically and abroad, and they are feeling
Joseph Kay and Barry Grey asserted so well at (http://www.wsws.org/articles/2005/may2005/amne-m28.shtml):
"The statements made
by Amnesty International are, in fact, only mild expressions of the
deep-seated feelings of hundreds of millions of people around the
world, including many millions within the
. The position taken by the
media in response to Amnesty's charges will only further discredit an
institution that already stands condemned in the eyes of the world.
media is waist deep in blood, filth and lies. It has been instrumental
in promoting and defending the policies of the most reactionary
government in American history and is irreversibly implicated in its
specific and credible charges against the administration in this open
letter to George Bush (http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engamr510782004)
on 5/7/04. They went even further with recent statements by William
the U.S. government continues to shirk its responsibility, Amnesty
International calls on foreign governments to uphold their obligations
under international law by investigating all senior U.S. officials
involved in the torture scandal,''
those investigations support prosecution, the governments should
arrest any official who enters their territory and begin legal
proceedings against them,''
apparent high-level architects of torture should think twice before
planning their next vacation to places like Acapulco or the French
Riviera because they may find themselves under arrest as
Pinochet famously did in London in 1998."
Amnesty International exerting international pressure, the ACLU applying
domestic legal pressure, and Representative John Conyers pushing
for Congressional action based on the Downing Street Memo, the Bush
regime has its hands full. Their fear is masked by anger as they
continue to lash out at their detractors, but they are beginning to
look and sound flustered.
Cost of American Conquest
commented that the Gulag analogy is not direct, there are distinct
parallels between Stalin's infamous "Gulag Archipelago"
and the American Gulags. The American system of confinement for
detainees in the seemingly boundless and endless "war on
terror" consists of an "archipelago" of at least 24
keeps, some of which are clandestine. According to Human Rights
at least 108 prisoners have died in US Gulags, including 63 outside of
Abu Gharib. They also validate through a CIA source that at least 100
"ghost detainees" exist, meaning the administration keeps
them from the "prying eyes" of the monitors of the International
Red Cross. The
now detains 11,000 prisoners in the American Gulag and, until
recent rulings by the American judiciary, has given them no
opportunity to prove their innocence. Torture, disappearances,
murder, secrecy, and paucity of justice..... Sounds like a track
record that would fill Joseph Stalin with pride!
Bush and his
fellow Neocons are avaricious, power-mad, and short-sighted. They lack
the spiritual vision to realize that they are grossly abusing the
awesome power they wield. Consumed by self-absorption and a compulsion
to continue the morally repugnant policy of Manifest Destiny, they
fail to realize that
's ways are not superior to the ways of the rest of the world. Sadly,
's rulers believe they are justified in using invasion, occupation
and torture to impose "democracy, capitalism and
Christianity" on other nations, just as their
predecessors did with Native Americans. Amnesty International has
given them a painful reminder of their immoral, illegal acts, and
of the limitations of their power. They also reminded the Neocons that
the world does not share their zeal for American
"democracy". As evidenced by its response,
's elite ruling class is most displeased.
All "good" things
must come to an end
With the fictitious
carte blanche moral authority that they derive from their
cleverly contrived "war on terror", the Bush administration
has acted with impunity far too long. Amnesty International has taken
a bold stance against their despotism. They have shed a glaring light
into the shadows, exposing the dark deeds of
's leaders. Undoubtedly, repulsion ripples through the bodies of
decent human beings as they discover the injustices and human rights
violations taking place in the American Gulag Archipelago
Now is the time
for people of conscience to stand with Amnesty International in their
support of human rights. Opposition to the Bush administration is
, but needs to become stronger. I recently joined Amnesty
International and fully support their bold charges against the Bush
administration. Despite the fact that much malevolence emanates from
, there are many Americans who want no part of the Bush government,
the true source of the malice. Humanity around the globe is vulnerable
to the ruthless ambitions of the powerful nexus of plutocrats and
corporations that comprise the American Oligarchy. They possess the
potency of immense wealth and an unparalleled military arsenal, but
are spiritually bankrupt. Therefore, the answer does not lie in
other nations waging war against the
, or in American dissidents perpetrating acts of violence. Protests;
education of our children, ourselves, and the uninformed; shining
the light of truth into the shadows in which the Oligarchs lurk;
verbal and written dissidence; moral and financial support of
organizations like Amnesty International; acts of civil disobedience;
boycotting the products of the administration's corrupt
corporate allies; legal pressure and prosecution; and the
impeachment process are the weapons we can use as we wage
peace against the Oligarchs of the United States of America. As
citizens of Earth, we share a common blight on our existence, and
is its epicenter. Waging peace will put this abomination in its place.