Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Amnesty International’s descent

Read this, this, this, this, and, finally, this. It seems virtually impossible not to agree that AI "is veering dangerously close to Noam Chomsky/Ramsey Clark-land," as one astute observer puts it. And I haven’t even mentioned William Schultz’s contributions to the Kerry campaign.

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Apparently, the best way for AI to steer clear of "Noam Chomsky/Ramsey Clark-land" is to be sure to ONLY notice and report the human rights violations of nations OTHER than the United States, or to be silent about any U.S. violations, unless they are on a scale directly equal to those of Stalin’s USSR or Hitler’s Germany. Any lesser violation or crime committed by the U.S. should, apparently, be ignored, denied, called something else, rationalized away or, as always, blamed on a few "bad apples."

In the past, the Bush administration has cited Amnesty International’s reports numerous times to back up its own claims of human rights abuses by other governments. Rumsfeld himself repeatedly cited Amnesty International’s reports on human rights abuses by Saddam Hussein’s regime to justify the war in Iraq. For example, in March of 2003, Rumsfeld said that "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." Rumsfeld cited Amnesty again on April 1, 2003, when he noted that "if 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 appears that the Bush administration takes Amnesty International seriously when doing so might suit its own needs, but not when members of the administration might be held accountable for their own questionable actions. This kind of defensiveness, and this "shoot the messenger" response to Amnesty’s allegations, speaks volumes.

It’s logically self-consistent--not to say entirely plausible--to hold that AI and its reports are a mixed bag: reliable in some cases, not so reliable or even downright biased in others. Therefore to point out that the Administration and its officials cite some AI reports while criticizing others can hardly be said to prove much of anything.

BTW, my notion of AI as a "mixed bag" comes largely from an acquaintance who was at one time closely involved w/ AI on a voluntary, nonpaid basis. She drifted away from the organization in part b/c she felt that while AI did some good work, its "mixed-bag-edness" (if that’s the word I want) was getting to be a bit too much for her, and this was well before 9/11 and the Second Gulf War.

Certainly the information that has come out about the partisan leanings and donations of AI officials is prima facie cause for wariness toward their grand claims of agenda-free objectivity.

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