Monday, December 10, 2007

Human Rights Day

Human Rights Day 2007 marks the start of a year-long commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: 1948-2008

It is our duty to ensure that these rights are a living reality -- that they are known, understood and enjoyed by everyone, everywhere. It is often those who most need their human rights protected, who also need to be informed that the Declaration exists -- and that it exists for them.

-- Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
It is especially hideous today to note the following article in the Washington Post:
[Four U.S. Congress Members] Briefed on Waterboarding in 2002

In Meetings, Spy Panels' Chiefs Did Not Protest, Officials Say

By Joby Warrick and Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, December 9, 2007

In September 2002, four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA's overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk.

Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials said.

. . .

With one known exception, no formal objections were raised by the lawmakers briefed about the harsh methods during the two years in which waterboarding was employed, from 2002 to 2003, said Democrats and Republicans with direct knowledge of the matter. The lawmakers who held oversight roles during the period included Pelosi and Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) and Sens. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), as well as Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.) and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan).

Individual lawmakers' recollections of the early briefings varied dramatically, but officials present during the meetings described the reaction as mostly quiet acquiescence, if not outright support. "Among those being briefed, there was a pretty full understanding of what the CIA was doing," said Goss, who chaired the House intelligence committee from 1997 to 2004 and then served as CIA director from 2004 to 2006. "And the reaction in the room was not just approval, but encouragement."
However, in 2004, a quiet hero emerged from a most unlikely place -- from within the Bush Administration -- as described in this recent report by Amy Goodman:
In a remarkable demonstration of commitment to his job, former acting Assistant Attorney General Daniel Levin, according to ABC News, underwent waterboarding when tasked by the White House to rework its official position on torture in 2004. Concluding that waterboarding is torture, he was forced out of his job.
But here we have A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America:
Americans value deeply our ability to speak, assemble, and worship freely. As a Nation, we can help freedom-loving people everywhere build a world in which these rights are honored and respected. During Human Rights Day, Bill of Rights Day, and Human Rights Week, we celebrate the freedoms guaranteed to all Americans and protected in our Constitution's Bill of Rights.

. . .

NOW, THEREFORE, I , GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim December 10, 2007, as Human Rights Day; December 15, 2007, as Bill of Rights Day; and the week beginning December 10, 2007, as Human Rights Week. I call upon the people of the United States to mark these observances with appropriate ceremonies and activities.
Oh the Hypocrisy of It All!

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At December 14, 2007 10:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All I can say is that every federal employee knows three things. Is Constitution Day a federal holiday? No. Is Human Rights Day a federal holiday? No. Is the day before the day on which Jesus was almost certainly *not* born a federal holiday this year? Why, yes it is! By special executive order!

In most years, federal employees only get ten paid holidays per year. But this year, we get 11. Which is really great, because, you see, most blokes will be playing at 10 holidays per year. You’re on 10, all the way up, all the way up...Where can you go from there? Nowhere. What we do this year, is if we get that extra push over the cliff...Eleven!

OK, so the cynical among you will note that last year we got 11 too, on account of the fact that Gerald Ford died. But that's unusual, and there frankly aren't very many un-dead ex-presidents left at this point (Carter, Bush Sr. and Clinton).


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