Thursday, May 24, 2007

Amnesty: U.S. war on terror 'eroding human rights worldwide'

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

The United States is treating the globe like one giant battlefield for its war on terror, eroding rights worldwide, a leading human rights group said today.

Amnesty International's Secretary-General Irene Khan said the United States and its allies' behavior was setting a destructive example for other nations, and that countries across the world were using the war on terror as an excuse to violate human rights and stifle dissent.

"One of the biggest blows to human rights has been the attempt of Western democratic states to roll back some fundamental principles of human rights — like the prohibition of torture," Khan told The Associated Press, speaking before the launch of her organization's annual report on the global state of human rights.

The report condemned the United States' response to international terrorism, saying it had done little to reduce the threat, while deepening mistrust between Muslims and non-Muslims and undermining the rule of law. The Bush administration's policy of extraordinary rendition — the alleged practice of secretly flying terror suspects to countries where they could be tortured — came in for particularly scathing condemnation.

Click here for the rest.

For me the argument about using torture in the "war on terror," or under any other circumstance, is simple: torture is immoral; Americans don't do it. But what do you say to these people who disagree? I mean, the moral argument, to me, is pretty damned absolute, an automatic win, but there are a lot of rational people out there whose fears trump morality. Hurt one scumbag to save hundreds of others, a kind of relative moral calculus. John McCain and others have advanced another argument against torture that essentially says we shouldn't do it because it gives the green light for US enemies to torture our people. Quite true. But I think I like this Amnesty International argument better. American use of torture, as well as subcontracting it out to allies, causes torture to proliferate worldwide. We're not doing this in a vacuum. Other countries necessarily take our lead on such issues. If the US does it, then it must be okay. Obviously, that's bullshit, but it works well in terms of rationalization.

We've really got to stop this torture shit.