Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Bush, Cheney: Absurd and Offensive 

No, I'm not insulting the President and Vice-President (yet). The words in the title of this post were how the two leaders of our nation described Amnesty International's allegations of human rights violations by the United States at the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.

Today at a press conference Pres. Bush stated that "It's an absurd allegation. The United States is a country that promotes freedom around the world," and that prisoners "who hate America" are the ones making the allegations. He further stated:
In terms of the detainees, we've had thousands of people detained. We've investigated every single complaint against the detainees. It seemed like to me they based some of their decisions on the word of -- and the allegations -- by people who were held in detention, people who hate America, people that had been trained in some instances to disassemble -- that means not tell the truth. And so it was an absurd report. It just is.

Thank you for that explanation of "dissemble." I'll try to remember that for your future statements. Vice-President Cheney stated during an interview for Larry King Live that he was offended by the report, and does not take it seriously.
Cheney said detainees at Guantanamo "have been well treated, treated humanely and decently." "Occasionally there are allegations of mistreatment," Cheney said. "But if you trace those back, in nearly every case, it turns out to come from somebody who had been inside and released to their home country and now are peddling lies about how they were treated."
So are they saying that because allegations of mistreatment of prisoners are being made by prisoners, the allegations are patently false? I would think that the prisoners, the very people alleged to have been abused, would be the prime source for such information. Bush continued his press conference with some criticism of the Russian judicial system's handling of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and allegations that his trial was politically motivated and predetermined.
"Here, you're innocent until proven guilty and it appeared to us, at least people in my administration, that it looked like he had been judged guilty prior to having a fair trial," Bush said. "We're watching the ongoing case."
Of course, just because you haven't been proven guilty or given a fair trial, or any trial at all (at least not without substantial protests by the Bush administration) doesn't mean you can't be held indefinitely as a detainee at Guantanamo Bay. And of course if you are a detainee at Guantanamo Bay, you're a prisoner who hates America and whose allegations of abuse should be dismissed as fabrications of someone with a grudge.

Except that even the Pentagon admits that they have confirmed at least 5 instances in which the Quran has been mistreated by Americans at Guantanamo, although they adamantly repeat that none of these instances involved flushing pages down a toilet, as Newsweek alleged and then retracted. Well, that's something, I guess.

Another except would be that there's the whole issue around blatant, ongoing human rights offenses as Abu Ghraib.

How do Bush and Cheney expect to be found plausible in their outright denial that ANY violations occur, supported solely by a statement that "The United States is a country that promotes freedom around the world."? Yes, the US promotes freedom. Admirable as that is, and as honest, hard-working and respectful of the human rights of all as I would guess the vast majority of US military and civilian personnel are in this effort, what is absurd is a claim that no violations occur, ever.

But this is the driving philosophy of this administration. Black or white, Choice A or Choice B, with us or against us. Bush brought this approach to the press conference today in discussing those who have criticized his approach to the North Korean nuclear weapons issue. He put forth that his approach is diplomatic, so anyone who disagrees with him must favor a military solution. He's not ready to abandon diplomacy for military intervention, so he's just going to continue with his current plan. Like there is no room for other diplomatic approaches, as if "diplomacy" only encompasses one method - his.

Do we really have four more years of this?

Amnesty International's Report 2005 can be found here. You can read the whole thing or go directly to regional overviews, or reports by country. A transcript of this morning's White House press conference can be found here. A transcript of the Larry King interview with VP Cheney can be found here.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:01 PM