Waging Peace for Humanity
June 8, 2005
By Jason S. Miller
On 6/3/05, the Bush administration lacked the courage to face
its accuser directly. Jim Lehrer of Newshour on PBS moderated a
discussion between Amnesty International and the Bush administration.
The topic was Amnesty's recent allegations concerning prisoner abuse
in the American version of Stalin's Gulag Archipelago.
Amnesty sent William Schulz, their executive director in the United
States. Lehrer invited the Pentagon to send a representative. Instead,
they sent their proxy, Neil Livingston, CEO of Global Options, a
security firm with expertise on the subject of terrorism.
With clinical detachment, Livingston gave a typical neocon justification
for the "gulag of our times" in Guantanamo Bay and other locations.
Taking umbrage to Amnesty's gall in leveling charges of human rights
abuses against the morally superior United States, he coolly stated
that Guantanamo was not even remotely similar to the gulags under
Holding the neocon line, he denied that there was a problem with
the U.S. system of detention in the "war on terror." He stated that
the men confined in Cuba were dangerous terrorists, and therefore
not entitled to rights afforded under the Geneva Conventions. He
admitted that there were some abuses, but minimized them, stating
that they were rare and minor. Livingston further justified the
American gulag with the fact that we are at "war" and cannot risk
freeing these prisoners until the "war" is over.
Schulz cast a very different light on the situation. He reminded
viewers that the U.S. military has committed 27 homicides throughout
its network of prisons, including Guantanamo. Schulz exposed the
fact that prisoners are not confirmed terrorists because they have
had no access to an objective tribunal to rule on their culpability.
He also spoke of the "ghost detainees" who have disappeared, the
U.S. practice of transferring prisoners to nations which condone
torture, and the fact that most of the prisoners in the "war on
terror" have been held without formal charges for over two years.
Pointing out that the U.S. is in direct violation of the Geneva
Conventions, he defended Amnesty's report condemning U.S. human
rights abuses. He also addressed Irene Kahn's characterization of
Guantanamo as the "gulag of our times." Explaining that while it
was not a direct analogy, Shulz affirmed that there are many similarities
between Stalin's Gulag Archipelago, and the terrorist prison network
of the U.S.
As Schulz declared, Irene Khan, the London-based director of Amnesty
International, is a native of Bangladesh. Khan and Amnesty represent
the viewpoints of the international community, and their condemnation
of the war crimes of the U.S. government is not a politically-motivated
attack. Schulz conveyed that Amnesty applies the "gold standard"
of respect for human rights to each nation which it investigates.
According to Schulz, the vehement denials of wrongdoing by Bush,
Cheney, and Rumsfeld closely resembled those of countries such as
Iran and North Korea, members of Bush's so-called "Axis of Evil."
What gives Amnesty International the credentials to challenge
Amnesty International came to be in 1961 as a result of a media
campaign initiated by Peter Benenson, a British attorney. He sparked
a year-long publicity campaign by The Observer, a British
newspaper. The effort influenced people to launch protests against
the detention of prisoners of conscience.
From these humble beginnings, Amnesty has grown to a world-wide
organization with more than a million members. Acting on bedrock
principles of independence and impartiality, the group now champions
the rights of prisoners of social conscience, people facing torture
and the death penalty, and individuals who have "disappeared" for
Amnesty won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977 and in 1978 received
a United Nations Human Rights Award. Over the years, they have achieved
a sterling reputation as an activist organization shining the light
of humanity on the ugly violations of individual human rights throughout
In Irene Kahn's own words:
"Human rights violations are not committed against the
'other side' but against a mother, a sister, a brother, a son,"
"Our challenge is to [stand] in solidarity with the victims,
to know their names, their faces, their identities, their stories."
"No cause can justify the abuse of human rights."
Meanwhile, the Bush administration has responded to Amnesty's
allegations with vehement and terse denials. In light of Amnesty's
credibility and the body of evidence against them, their words ring
"For Amnesty International to suggest that somehow the
United States is a violator of human rights, I frankly just
donít take them seriously."
Scott MClellan, the White House press secretary and spin-master:
"I think the allegations are ridiculous and unsupported
by the facts. The United States is leading the way when it comes
to protecting human rights and promoting human dignity."
George W. Bush:
"When there's accusations made about certain actions by
our people, they're fully investigated in a transparent way.
It's just an absurd allegation ... It seemed like [Amnesty]
based some of their decisions on the word and allegations by
people who were held in detention, people who hate America,
people who had been trained in some instances to disassemble
- that means not tell the truth. And so it was an absurd report.
It just is."
Holding true to form, when the White House needed Amnesty to promote
the war in Iraq in 2003, they offered a much different opinion on
Amnesty and their findings concerning human rights abuses.
Before Amnesty leveled their charges against the U.S. administration,
Donald Rumsfeld had this to say:
"We know that it's a repressive regime ... Anyone who
has read Amnesty International or any of the human rights organizations
about how the regime of Saddam Hussein treats his people..."
"It seems to me a careful reading of Amnesty International
or the record of Saddam Hussein, having used chemical weapons
on his own people as well as his neighbors, and the viciousness
of that regime, which is well known and documented by human
rights organizations, ought not to be surprised."
The simple fact is that Amnesty International has an established
reputation as an independent watchdog of human rights around the
world. They have not exhibited a pattern of targeting specific countries
to further a political agenda. Rumsfeld's statements provide evidence
that the Bush administration recognized Amnesty's authority on the
matter of human rights abuse when it suited their purposes. Now
that Amnesty has trained their cross-hairs on them, they are lashing
out like cornered animals. America's leaders deride or attempt to
discredit virtually every organization or individual that has the
audacity to challenge them. Smells like tyranny to me.
In 1974 Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (a man who knew a bit about tyranny,
Stalin and the Gulag Archipelago) might as well have been talking
about the Bush administration when he said:
"Violence can only be concealed by a lie, and the
lie can only be maintained by violence. Any man who has once proclaimed
violence as his method is inevitably forced to take the lie as
Bush and his cohorts are sweating. Amnesty has them in an angry,
defensive mode because they are afraid. Why do they fear? They know
the allegations are true. They also recognize that even the leaders
of the mighty United States are subject to international law. The
international court of public opinion has already found them guilty,
which does not bode well for the neocons.
Gandhi's perpetuation of a large civil disobedience movement in
colonial India swayed world opinion to the degree that the British
finally relented and left India a sovereign nation. The Bush regime
comprehends that the movement against their corrupt abuses of power
is gaining momentum both domestically and abroad, and they are feeling
As Joseph Kay and Barry Grey asserted
The statements made by Amnesty International are, in fact,
only mild expressions of the deep-seated feelings of hundreds
of millions of people around the world, including many millions
within the United States. The position taken by the US media
in response to Amnestyís charges will only further discredit
an institution that already stands condemned in the eyes of
the world. The US media is waist deep in blood, filth and lies.
It has been instrumental in promoting and defending the policies
of the most reactionary government in American history and is
irreversibly implicated in its crimes.
Amnesty leveled specific and credible charges against the administration
in an open
letter to George Bush on 5/7/04. They went even further with
recent statements by William Schulz:
"If the U.S. government continues to shirk its
responsibility, Amnesty International calls on foreign governments
to uphold their obligations under international law by investigating
all senior U.S. officials involved in the torture scandal. If
those investigations support prosecution, the governments should
arrest any official who enters their territory and begin legal
proceedings against them. The apparent high-level architects of
torture should think twice before planning their next vacation
to places like Acapulco or the French Riviera because they may
find themselves under arrest as Augusto Pinochet famously did
in London in 1998."
Between Amnesty International exerting international pressure,
the ACLU applying domestic legal pressure, and Rep. John Conyers
pushing for Congressional action based on the Downing Street Memo,
the Bush regime has its hands full. Their fear is masked by anger
as they continue to lash out at their detractors, but they are beginning
to look and sound flustered.
While Amnesty commented that the gulag analogy is not direct,
there are distinct parallels between Stalin's infamous Gulag Archipelago
and the American gulags. The American system of confinement for
detainees in the seemingly boundless and endless "war on terror"
consists of an "archipelago" of at least 24 keeps, some of which
to Human Rights First, at least 108 prisoners have died in U.S.
gulags, including 63 outside of Abu Ghraib. They also validate through
a CIA source that at least 100 "ghost detainees" exist, meaning
the administration keeps them from the prying eyes of the monitors
of the International Red Cross.
The U.S. now detains 11,000 prisoners in and, until recent rulings
by the American judiciary, has given them no opportunity to prove
their innocence. Torture, disappearances, murder, secrecy, and paucity
of justice - sounds like a track record that would fill Joseph Stalin
Bush and his fellow neocons are avaricious, power-mad, and short-sighted.
They lack the spiritual vision to realize that they are grossly
abusing the awesome power they wield. Consumed by self-absorption
and a compulsion to continue the morally repugnant policy of Manifest
Destiny, they fail to realize that America's ways are not superior
to the ways of the rest of the world.
Sadly, America's rulers believe they are justified in using invasion
and torture to impose capitalism and Christianity on other nations,
just as their predecessors did with Native Americans. Amnesty International
has given them a painful reminder of their immoral, illegal acts,
and of the limitations of their power. They also reminded the neocons
that the world does not share their zeal for American "democracy".
As evidenced by its response, America's elite ruling class is most
With the fictitious carte blanche moral authority that
they derive from their cleverly contrived "war on terror", the Bush
administration has acted with impunity for far too long. Amnesty
International has taken a bold stance against their despotism. They
have shed a glaring light into the shadows, exposing the dark deeds
of America's leaders. Undoubtedly, repulsion ripples through the
bodies of decent human beings as they discover the injustices and
human rights violations taking place in the American Gulag Archipelago.
Now is the time for people of conscience to stand with Amnesty
International in their support of human rights. Opposition to the
Bush administration is strong in America, but needs to become stronger.
I recently joined Amnesty International and fully support their
bold charges against the Bush administration.
Despite the fact that much malevolence emanates from America, there
are many Americans who want no part of the Bush government, the
true source of the malice. Humanity around the globe is vulnerable
to the ruthless ambitions of the powerful nexus of plutocrats and
corporations that comprise the American Oligarchy. They possess
the potency of immense wealth and an unparalleled military arsenal,
but are spiritually bankrupt. Therefore, the answer does not lie
in other nations waging war against the U.S., or in American dissidents
perpetrating acts of violence.
Protests; education of our children, ourselves, and the uninformed;
shining the light of truth into the shadows in which the Oligarchs
lurk; verbal and written dissidence; moral and financial support
of organizations like Amnesty International; acts of civil disobedience;
boycotting the products of the administration's corrupt corporate
allies; legal pressure and prosecution; and the impeachment process
are the weapons we can use as we wage peace against the Oligarchs
of the United States of America.
As citizens of Earth, we share a common blight on our existence,
and Washington D.C. is its epicenter. Waging peace will put this
abomination in its place.