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More thoughts about Amnesty Irresponsible

Posted by Richard on June 5, 2005

Amnesty International USA Executive Director William Schultz was on Fox News Sunday this morning. Host Chris Wallace pressed him pretty hard. Here’s one exchange, as I remember it:

Wallace: You said Rumsfeld and Gonzales are the architects of torture. Do you have any evidence that Rumsfeld authorized beating, starving, or other things we normally think of as torture?

Schultz: "It would be fascinating to find out…"

Wallace interrupts incredulously — you don’t have any evidence? But you made the accusation!

Schultz: Well, we know Rumsfeld authorized the use of stress positions and dogs to intimidate prisoners, and those by themselves are violations of the torture convention.

Let’s look at what the 1987 Convention Against Torture actually says:

Article I

1. For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as… It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.

So Schultz maintains that frightening someone with a dog or making someone stand in an uncomfortable position for hours involves severe pain or suffering. That’s at the very least debatable. I think it’s absurd, and it’s a slap in the face of those who’ve undergone real torture, of which there are plenty in Iraq.

Regarding the claim by AI Secretary General Irene Khan that US detention centers are "the gulag of our times," Schultz acknowledged that there are differences between places like Gitmo and the Soviet gulag. The differences, he said, are in the numbers of people involved and the longer period of time that the Soviet gulag existed.

Let’s compare briefly:

Gitmo — The US provides prayer mats, caps, Korans, religiously correct meals, a library of Jihadist literature (!), broadcast calls to prayer, medical facilities, an exercise yard, etc. The International Red Cross has permanent observers there. Out of 28,000 interrogations, investigators have confirmed something like 10 cases of abuse and half of those have been abuse of a book.

Soviet gulag — Forced labor camps characterized by routine beatings, torture, appalling living conditions, no health care, starvation rations, and mass executions. Millions died.

But, to AI, the only differences are the numbers of people and the time period. Words fail me.

There has been mistreatment of prisoners, more so at Baghram and Abu Ghraib than Gitmo. We know this because the military has investigated it, released its findings, and disciplined or prosecuted those responsible. There may be additional instances that we don’t know about because someone has covered them up. If so, I hope they come to light and those responsible are punished, but I neither expect nor demand perfect justice.

AI and the MSM do demand perfection from our side, and they view every minor failing as morally equivalent to the Soviet gulag or to Beslan. This is absurd.

They distrust every utterance by US government officials and military personnel, while accepting as true every claim made by murderous jihadists trained to lie about being tortured and abused. This is contemptible.

They want us to treat captured jihadists as suspects to be arrested and tried instead of as enemy combatants to be held for the duration of the war; they want to return to the pre-9/11 Clinton policy of viewing the Islamofascists as a criminal justice problem. This is insane.

Go read Friday’s column by Charles Krauthammer (WaPo; use BugMeNot). And Austin Bay. Michelle Malkin has some fine comments, plus excerpts from Gen. Hood’s report. And don’t miss Capt. Ed’s thoughts herehere, and here. My own earlier AI posts are here and here.

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