Wednesday, November 19, 2003


I used to be a member of amnesty internation in high school, back when I was a wide-eyed, idealistic tree-hugger. I thought that my letters to the despotic regimes of the world would help free their political prisoners and black-list me so that I could never visit those countries again for fear of being thrown in a dark, rat-infested dungeon for 20 years. Ha!

Anyway, I grew out of that difficult phase and now I'm wondering how anyone could take AI seriously. I mean they'd rather rip on Bush and America then address the thousands enslaved in Sudan. Go figure.

So anyway, this is my first attempt at fisking (which should be a new Olympic sport because it really gets the blood going). - WHY WE HAVE TO MARCH AGAINST DUBYA


First of all, Dubya? Not even President Dubya? Where are your manners Missy?

By Kate Allen Uk Director Amnesty International

THOUSANDS of people will take to the streets in Britain next week to voice their anger, frustration and political opposition to President George W Bush's policies.

Oooh, thousands. How many millions of people aren't protesting, but are gainfully employed? Ever had a job besides running some lame-o "human rights" group and flipping burgers?

Some will criticise these protestors, writing off their views as knee-jerk anti-Americanism. But the critics should think before condemning them.

Yes, I'll think. Ok, done. I still think you guys are morons with too much time on your hands and you should get proper jobs.

Why? Because after almost three years of President Bush's "war on terror" many would argue that the world is now a more dangerous and divided place than it was immediately after 9/11.

The many being who, exactly? The leftist, anti-American groups like ANSWER, and NOT IN OUR NAME? I definitely think the world's more dangerous-- dangerous for cockroaches like Osama and Hussein.

Countries don't protect freedom by attacking hard-won civil liberties, locking up thousands of people without charge or trial, and rushing through ever-more draconian laws.

You don't win the hearts and minds of the doubters and the disaffected by riding roughshod over human rights.

Thousands of people you say? This wouldn't be the same people from Al Qaida and the Taliban, groups that have massacred thousands of civilians all over the world in terrorist attacks? Screw 'em I say! They were caught red-handed in Iraq, they are unlawful combatants, and by the Geneva Convention, we can lock them up and throw away the key. Okay, okay, we can't throw away the key, but we can try them in military tribunals.

But you DO provide terrorists and extremists with the kind of propaganda they could only have dreamt of a few years ago.

All right, so in addition to "kill the Great Satan because they are controlled by the evil Zionists pigs and monkeys" they've got "kill the Great Satan because they violated the constitutional rights of our brethren in Gitmo as well as section blah-blah-blah of the Geneva Convention." Right...I think the former argument plays a lot better in the mosques and madrassas. But that's just me.

Take Guantanamo Bay. What is the impact of the image of the orange boiler-suited detainees crouching in submission behind Camp Delta's chain-link fences?
Most people in this country seem to be revolted that nearly 700 people are held without charge or trial and without access to lawyers or family for almost two years. They question our own government's weakness in failing to properly stand up for the rights of the nine British men imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay.

Most people eh? According to what poll? Well, my informal poll of friends and family couldn't care less what happens to these terrorists.

RIGHTLY, they wonder whether our government would have been more robust had these men been held by a country like Iran or Syria or almost any other country besides the US.

Hate to break it to you, lady, but there's a big difference between the governments of Iran, Syria, and the U.S. We have this little thing called the Constitution. So yes, likely Blair would have been more robust if these guys were held in some hell-hole in Iran or Syria. But how likely is that? We don't get along with those countries so why would we house unlawful combatants there? Sheesh here we go again with accusing the U.S. of human rights violations while ignoring the horrible abuses by other countries.

But, take the understandable outrage in this country and apply it to a Middle-Eastern country. When the manacled men from Guantanamo Bay flash up on Al-Jazeera television, for example, we can easily guess that outrage reaches new levels.

I'm sure Al-Jaqueera viewers are regularly outraged, what with all the anti-American propaganda streaming out.

No Americans are being held at Camp Delta. Only non-US citizens.

John Walker Lindh, the so-called "American Taliban", was given a defence attorney and brought before an independent civilian court. Camp Delta's "enemy combatants", on the other hand, have to endure indefinite detention without charge or trial and no access to legal counsel or any court.

Perhaps this is because Lindh is an AMERICAN CITIZEN and he was not ruled an UNLAWFUL COMBATANT. He does have rights afforded to him as a citizen. Non-citizens, however, being held as unlawful combatants on a base that is not technically property of the U.S., do not have the same rights.

Hanging over them is the possibility of unfair trials, military tribunals with restricted rights of defence, no independent appeals and the threat of the death penalty.

Oh brother. I'm supposed to feel sorry for the poor wittle tewowists? Please.

It stinks. And that's why Amnesty International plans to make its point - on the streets of London dressed in orange boiler suits.

Here's to seeing you guys wearing the same outfits when you're tossed in the slammer for disorderly conduct.

The journey from the Twin Towers to Guantanamo Bay has been a disastrous one - from an international atrocity to an international disgrace. It is a massive own goal in the war on terror and its sinister consequences are likely to haunt the world for years.

I'll tell you what haunts me, missy. Seeing those towers fall. There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about our fight against terrorism. You seem not to understand what is at stake--our whole way of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The terrorists we are fighting want to destroy all of it and remake the world in their own image. One global nation of Islam under Allah is what they want.

Instead, you and the other lefty groups are distracting the world from that real issue and demand that we wring our hands over a few hundred thugs locked up in Gitmo. The lives of millions, perhaps billions are at stake and you're crying because the Gitmo gang has to wear an unflattering color?!

But it is not just Guantanamo Bay that is so worrying. Since September 11 the USA has used its over-arching "war on terror" as an alibi to create a parallel justice system to detain, interrogate, charge or try suspects under the "laws of war".

In mainland USA people have already been held under military procedures as "enemy combatants'. For example, Jose Padilla - the so-called Dirty Bomber - has been held for more than a year in solitary confinement at a naval prison in South Carolina. He is imprisoned without charge, trial or access to his lawyer or family.

Padilla, a former Chicago gang member, was arrested after flying back into the US from the Middle East where he had, according to officials, been plotting to use a bomb packed with radioactive waste on the US.

This is a virtually unprecedented suspension of the fundamental rights of a US citizen in US custody - not to mention a violation of international law.

Uh, no it's not. Actually, U.S. courts have ruled that the President has the power to detain American citizens as unlawful combatants without a trial under circumstances. Also this authority it not limited to only wartime conditions. This precedent was set during the Civil War in The Prize Cases, 67 U.S. 635 (1862) where it was decided a formal declaration of war was not necessary. My guess as to why Padilla was ruled an unlawful combatant while Lindh was not is because the former was a member of Al Qaeda, while Lindh was a low-level foot soldier in the Taliban. Sheesh, read some case law, will ya.

In other countries people in the hands of US forces are seemingly classified as "enemy combatants" simply if Donald Rumsfeld's Defense `Department says they are. In Iraq as many as 10,000 people are being held, most without any legal process.

Beyond the high media visibility of Guantanamo Bay there also appears to be a shadowy network of "war on terror" detention sites.

At the US air base at Bagram in Afghanistan, for example, former inmates have spoken of a regime of forced stripping, hooding, blindfolding with blacked-out goggles, 24-hour lighting, sleep deprivation and prolonged restraint in painful positions.

As with Guantanamo Bay, Amnesty International is not allowed into Bagram and not even the Red Cross has had access to all prisoners there.

Meanwhile, there are rumours of other prisons - on island military bases or in embassy buildings. These are unconfirmed, but the US already admits to holding people at "undisclosed locations".

Frighteningly, what we are seeing is the almost day-by-day erosion of the USA's commitment to human rights. Where once the world might have looked to America for inspiration, Bush's America is now actively undermining the international system for human rights protection.

Waahhh!!! And where is the famed international system for human rights with regards to the suffering of North Koreans, Iranians, Zimbabwians, Sudanese Christians etc. These are the real people that are suffering and yet AI spends all its energy on Bush=Hitler mantras.

On other issues the trend is the same - America ripping up the rulebook. The US is now by far the most active opponent of the new International Criminal Court, a court that the US should be celebrating as a historic attempt to deter and punish genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

INSTEAD it has embarked on a campaign of bullying weaker countries into agreeing exemptions for US personnel.

Could the reason that the U.S. is not a fan of the ICC is that any two-bit lawyer with an axe to grind could try to arrest American leaders and military members whenever they felt like it? I don't think so. The U.S. will not give up its sovereignty to the likes of Belgium and France. Many Americans view the U.N. and the I.C.C. with skepticism because of the rampant corruption and cronyism. Until the U.N. is reformed, forget about any cooperation from the U.S. with regards to the I.C.C.

Next week the slogans of the protestors will be mixed - anything from anti-war messages on Iraq, opposition to "Star Wars" defence projects, environmental objections to America's gas-guzzling economy and protests at its trade policies.


But one thing unites these voices. A belief that the United States has strayed way off course and forgotten its own traditions of supporting human rights and fundamental liberties.

Excuse us if we no longer want to be a doormat for those that would take advantage of the rights and priviledges we enjoy as U.S. citizens. Excuse Pres. Bush for not leaving the question of U.S. security to a bunch of dithering, corrupt U.N. bureaucrats.

Crucially, Bush protests will also test our own government's commitment to freedom of speech and legitimate dissent in Britain.

Yes, the U.K.'s commitment to freedom has been tested and under the leadership of Blair, it commitment to freedom is stronger than ever.

This month a court controversially ruled that police use of terrorism powers to arrest peaceful protestors at an arms fair in Docklands, East London was reasonable. Why are ordinary people with a point of view on the arms industry considered a threat to the nation?

I don't know anything about these "peaceful" protestors, but my guess is that they got arrested because they were doing things that were naughty and illegal.

Mr Bush's three-day trip to Britain is a high-level visit with all of the pomp and ceremony of any such occasion.

However, the right to have your say is a proud British tradition and the government should see to it that policing during President Bush's visit is done with a light touch.

Yes, please feel free to make fools of yourselves in front of the world. Just don't assault others and vandalize property.

There should be no "exclusion zones" and Mr Bush should not be protected from protests.

I definitely want my president protected from those "peace" protesters. And since when is harassment a right?

Four years ago protestors during the visit of Chinese President Jiang Zemin had flags and banners ripped from their hands. Then the Metropolitan Police behaved in a way more reminiscent of the Chinese secret police than the friendly British bobby.

If they were acting like the Chinese secret police then the protestors would have been shot in the back of the head and their organs sold to the highest bidder. Give me a break.

This time let's hear it for peaceful, good-humoured free expression. Taking to the streets to protest during George Bush's visit will be pro-American and pro-human rights.

Exercising your legitimate right to protest is a core American - and British - value. It's what makes me proud to protest.

Here, here. Please don't hurt anybody and just try to control your Hate-Bush glee. It's very unbecoming. Almost as unbecoming as a pink tank (via LGF):

Update: There's a great commentary on the ICC from Right Wing News.

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