liberal ["liberalis" L - suitable for a freeman, generous; "eleutheros" Gk - free] (adj) generous, open-minded, not subjugated to authoritarian domination; (n) one who believes in liberty, universal suffrage and the free exchange of ideas. elite ["eslire" Fr -- to choose fr.L "eligere" -- choose] (n) the choice part; best of a class; the socially superior part of society.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Yesterday at the DOJ. Dissing Amnesty International?

Sean McCorcmack seems to have a bit more pugilism in his spleen than Scotty McClellan had. But his problem is, he doesn't have anything better to say. Based only on what I see here in the official transcript, I'd like to encourage everyone to write the State Department Press Secretary and complain.

Contact Information

Main address:
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

Main Switchboard:
1-800-877-8339 (Federal Relay Service)

Hotline for American Travelers:

Public Communication Division:
PA/PL, Rm. 2206
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20520

There really isn't any excuse for criticizing Amnesty International. Give me a break! Instead of looking to correct their own shortcomings, the State Department is just denying all wrongdoing and trying to fling dirt back at Amnesty!

Shame on them.
Here's the relevant portion of the transcript:

Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
May 23, 2006

Yes. Sylvie.
QUESTION: Amnesty International --
QUESTION: Can we stay on this for a second?
QUESTION: Yeah. Do we have any information -- more about the mission by David and Elliot out there?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you know, yeah, I checked on this. I saw there was a report in an Israeli newspaper that they might be going to region. At this point neither of them has any plane tickets. On any given day, you could say that they're going to region. On this particular day, I can't say that. So we'll keep you up to date if there's any travel.
Sir, did you have one on this?
QUESTION: No. Different subject.
MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. All right. Sylvie.
QUESTION: So I was asking about the report of Amnesty International published today which is very critical of U.S. and says that, among other things, that torture is practiced in Guantanamo. Is it true?
MR. MCCORMACK: No. And certainly Amnesty International is entitled to their opinion. We see they're pretty good at press releases, I've noticed. Look, you know, we've gone over this time after time again. There's a group of European MPs that just went down to Guantanamo. There have been many, many outside organizations that have gone down to Guantanamo to look at exactly what is happening down at Guantanamo Bay and how exactly these individuals are treated. So no, nobody is being tortured at Guantanamo Bay.
But let me make one other point with respect to Amnesty International because I think it's -- I think it's relevant. In the years -- in the years of Saddam Hussein's rule, Amnesty International was at the forefront of bringing to light human rights abuses that were perpetrated by that regime -- terrible, terrible things. They do great work in that regard.
But when it came time to put Saddam Hussein on trial, which is happening right now, they're absent. They've done zero, zip, nothing to assist in those efforts. So, in terms of where they might focus some of their efforts, I would just offer the humble suggestion that they might follow through in actually assisting with or providing some support to this trial for what they acknowledge is one of the great human rights abusers of recent times.
QUESTION: Yeah, if I can follow up.
QUESTION: It's the second report this week which is very critical on the U.S. handling human rights and torture. In terms of public diplomacy, do you think it's -- you are projecting the right image?
MR. MCCORMACK: What we're doing, and we talked about this a little bit last week -- look, President Bush has pointed out that the United States doesn't want to be the world's jailer, that we have no desire to be the world's jailer, and that at some point in the future would we all like to see Guantanamo Bay closed down? Absolutely. But at the moment, there's dangerous people being held at -- in Guantanamo Bay. These are people that were picked up on battlefields, planning for, engaged in various acts of terrorism around the world. These are individuals who pose a threat potentially not only to American citizens but citizens from Europe as well as around the world.
So we are working with other countries around the globe to try to return these people, repatriate these people to their home countries, but in a way so that we can assure ourselves, have a reasonable expectation that they won't being maltreated or tortured and that they won't be allowed to engage in acts of terrorism or planning for acts of terrorism. So the United States is working to try to return these people. The United States is bearing this burden in keeping these people off the street. So I think we have to reframe the debate here a little bit. Look, nobody wants Guantanamo Bay opened -- to remain open in perpetuity. Nobody is saying that. But it is serving a purpose now. It is serving the purpose of keeping these individuals who pose a threat to Americans, as well as others, off the street.
QUESTION: Amnesty International gives the example of Libya and says that you sent back detainees in Libya. Do you have the assurance that in Libya they are not tortured? How can you say they are not tortured in Libya?
MR. MCCORMACK: I don't have the particulars of that case, Sylvie. But when we do return people to their home countries, we always go through a very, very careful and detailed process. And they have to be able to assure American officials and policy makers that they believe that these individuals will not be maltreated, will not be tortured. So we go through and do that in every single case.
Oftentimes, that takes a long -- it takes a long time for them to get those assurances. The negotiations with Saudi Arabia lasted quite some time. There are some states who have refused to take back individuals. And there are states with which we had to do very in-depth negotiations to make sure that these individuals wouldn't be set free or wouldn't be allowed to engage in acts of terrorism or planning for acts of terrorism. So this is a very -- this is not a process that is done on the fly. This is a very careful process that our lawyers go through.
QUESTION: One of the charges of Amnesty is that you have been kind of contracting out a lot of the interrogations and work dealing with detainees to contractors which don't seem to be subject to the same rules and regulations in terms of torture and cruel and inhumane punishment. Can you say that all U.S. contractors are subject to the same rules and regulations and that this is not a way of getting around some of those laws against cruel and inhumane punishment?
MR. MCCORMACK: I'll let -- I'll go find an answer from the lawyers to give you a legal answer on that. But I will point out that there had been contractors that have actually stood trial and I believe that there's an individual that's actually been jailed as a result of some of the allegations that have been -- allegations that have been proven in the eyes of the court against him, in terms of maltreating individuals.
Yes, sir.
QUESTION: Just on this?
QUESTION: Quickly on --
MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know. Do you -- on this topic or --
QUESTION: No, on a different subject.
QUESTION: Could you be a bit more specific about the support you think that the Amnesty can provide for the trial of Saddam Hussein?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, they have a vast database -- I guess for lack of a better term -- cataloging these human rights abuses during --
QUESTION: Evidence or something that --
MR. MCCORMACK: During the -- yeah, I mean, you know, part of this process is getting the information. And, you know, I would submit to you that Iraqi authorities are taking on a pretty big task here. And they're trying to not only put on a trial for Saddam Hussein and the key members of that regime, but in a larger sense, they're trying to come to closure with their past. And we would think that an NGO like Amnesty International would have an interest in assisting the Iraqi people, the now free Iraqi people, in that regard. So it was just a suggestion. We'll see if they follow through on it.


Post a Comment

<< Home