Partisan, not principled

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on February 8, 2009

This is probably old news for most of you who follow the blogosphere closely, but I've had these articles taking up valuable space in my browser and I've been meaning to point this out for a week.

Human Rights Watch is not a human rights organization. It is a Democrat advocacy group that only cares about human rights when they can bad mouth a Republican.

Human Rights Watch: Before
Human Rights Watch, a very respected and passionate defender of civil liberty, was one of the most vocal critics of the CIA's rendition program. In fact, Human Rights Watch prepared a comprehensive document that reports incidents of alleged torture of rendered individuals. The report makes the following policy recommendations:

The US government should:
Repudiate the use of rendition to torture as a counterterrorism tactic and permanently discontinue the CIA's rendition program;

Disclose the identities, fate, and current whereabouts of all persons detained by the CIA or rendered to foreign custody by the CIA since 2001, including detainees who were rendered to Jordan;

Repudiate the use of "diplomatic assurances" against torture and ill-treatment as a justification for the transfer of a suspect to a place where he or she is at risk of such abuse;

Make public any audio recordings or videotapes that the CIA possesses of interrogations of detainees rendered by the CIA to foreign custody;

Provide appropriate compensation to all persons arbitrarily detained by the CIA or rendered to foreign custody (emphasis added).


Human Rights Watch: After
Now that the L.A. Times reports that rendition will continue during the Obama administration, Human Rights Watch has apparently altered its position. According to Tom Malinowski, the organization's "Washington advocacy director," the risk of torture and other abuses does not mandate the prophylactic cessation of rendition. Instead (quoting the L.A. Times):

"Under limited circumstances, there is a legitimate place" for renditions, said Tom Malinowski, the Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. "What I heard loud and clear from the president's order was that they want to design a system that doesn't result in people being sent to foreign dungeons to be tortured -- but that designing that system is going to take some time."

Malinowski said he had urged the Obama administration to stipulate that prisoners could be transferred only to countries where they would be guaranteed a public hearing in an official court. "Producing a prisoner before a real court is a key safeguard against torture, abuse and disappearance," Malinowski said (emphasis added).

This comes from self-avowed liberal law professor Darren Lenard Hutchison, who appears to be one of the few honest ones not overcome with Obama-worship.

Moe Lane helpfully identifies a lot of Obama supporters who are, by their previous condemnation of President George W. Bush, now "pro-torture."

After pointing out the flip-flop of "human-rights supporters," Hutchison's fellow liberals tried to correct him.

If my fellow liberals defend his program, despite its replication of some of the very practices that human rights groups condemned during the Bush administration, then they are being hypocritical. If they now believe that the procedural protections are unnecessary, they should say so.

But they won't, because their main concern is supporting President Obama, not human rights.


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February 2009



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