The Amnesty International country report on human rights violations committed by nations during 2006 finds the U.S. near the top of the list with criminal violations: “Thousands of detainees continued to be held in U.S. custody without charge or trial in Iraq, Afghanistan and the U.S. Naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.”

The full country report web site is available (pdf) at:

Paragraphs on the U.S. bear all too familiar subject headings: Military Commissions Act, Rendition and secret detention, Guantanamo, Detention in Afghanistan and Iraq, Unlawful killings by U.S. forces outside the U.S.A.. “Supermax” prisons, Women in prison, Prisoners of conscience, Death penalty, Other concerns, UN Committee Against Torture and UN Human Rights Committee, Intergovernmental organizations.

A minor U.S. official has already dismissed the report with the usual Bush administration cover for criticism of its wrong-doing — ‘mere politics’.

Or as a short summary article in the Boston Globe puts it:

Report hits US on human rights
Says terror fight has global impact

By Raphael G. Satter, Associated Press | May 24, 2007

LONDON — In its fight against terrorism, the United States has eroded rights worldwide, Amnesty International said yesterday.
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In its annual report, the London-based rights group said politicians around the world — from Australia to Sudan — were taking advantage of shortsighted US leadership in a fight against global terrorism that had sacrificed individual liberties.

“One of the biggest blows to human rights has been the attempt of Western democratic states to roll back some fundamental principles of human rights — like the prohibition of torture,” Amnesty’s Secretary General Irene Khan said before the report’s launch. She also criticized the US policy of extraordinary rendition.

While Amnesty International has highlighted rights issues that have erupted since the deadly Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in the United States, little of the 337-page report dealt with the terrorist threat itself or attacks linked to the Al Qaeda terrorist network.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Tom Casey said Amnesty’s time would have been better spent on helping the Iraqi government deal with past rights abuses.

“It’s pretty clear that Amnesty International thought that we’d make a convenient ideological punching bag,” Casey said.

Last year’s Amnesty report offered similar criticism of the United States, saying the country’s pursuit of security had undermined human rights.

America’s unique position on the world stage justified the criticism, Khan said.

“If we focus on the US it’s because we believe that the US is a country whose enormous influence and power has to be used constructively,” she said. “When countries like the US are seen to undermine or ignore human rights, it sends a very powerful message to others.”

The report noted that a new Army Field Manual — which bans the use of dogs, hooding and sexual humiliation in interrogations — did not apply to CIA-run detention facilities.

European countries were accused of failing to challenge the US military putting terror suspects on secret flights to third countries for interrogations. Britain, Australia and Japan were singled out for passing harsh new antiterror laws.

Russia’s authoritarian drift also attracted Amnesty’s attention.

Journalists, human rights defenders, and others had been devastated by a government crackdown on civil society, the report said .

The report said the government was intensifying its pressure on the independent media and was turning a blind eye to the growing number of hate crimes targeting foreigners, immigrants and sexual minorities.
© Copyright 2007 Globe Newspaper Company.

As a child of WW2 I remember all too vividly even our kids comic book vivid portrayals of the Japanese and Nazi practices — torture, secret detentions, terror tactics, etc. — that distinguished the Allies from the brutal and criminal Axis powers. It is a sad day, then, to see that we have now become the ‘evil’ nation that both oppresses persons and provides horrendous precedents for the most authoritarian and totalitarian nations to follow our criminal lead.

Were there justice in our world, those named in the subject heading above would be facing prosecution by the International Criminal Court. Slight wonder that our perpetrators have deterred us from joining this institution now growing in strength and range as a defense against precisely those crimes that we as a nation are now committing:

“As of May 2007, 104 states are members of the Court, and a further 41 countries have signed but not ratified the Rome Statute. However, a number of states, including China, India and the United States, are critical of the Court and have not joined.”

Some axis of oppressive regimes with which we have joined up!

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 718-951-5324 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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