Even Mainstream Reporters Now Mocking US Bogus 'Transparency' On Human Rights Issues Concerning Bradley Manning
from the forthright-means-we-can't-discuss-it dept
Now, I think it's clear that the Chinese government's level of abuse is significantly higher than the US governments. I don't think anyone is seriously arguing otherwise. But just the fact that the US fails on so many of the facets it dings other countries for certainly looks really hypocritical, kills off any moral high ground the US might have, and makes it easy for others to totally dismiss US complaints about human rights violations elsewhere.
In other words: the US's weak record on human rights completely and totally undermines its claims of caring about human rights elsewhere.
Of course, historically, many in the press were willing to mostly ignore the US's own human rights issues, but it seems that more and more are recognizing problems here. Reporters from both the Associated Press and Reuters (Matthew Lee and Arshad Mohammed) -- about as mainstream press as you can get -- did a nice job challenging State Department spokesperson Mark Toner on these issues, noting that just as the US has condemned China and played up its own role in being "transparent," it's denying the UN access to Bradley Manning in the UN's investigation over whether or not Manning is being tortured.
LEE: Can you explain why, if the United States is proud of its human rights record, that the UN special rapporteur has complained that you're not allowing him independent access to Bradley Manning?Basically, it appears the State Department believes that as long as it says "there's an ongoing legal process," it doesn't need to answer anything or be forthright or transparent at all. So, it just handed China and anyone else the perfect blueprint. Any time someone accuses China of not being forthright, it just needs to say there's an "ongoing legal process."
TONER: We've been in contact with the UN special rapporteur. We've had conversations with you in terms of access to --
LEE: With me?
TONER: I'm sorry. We've had conversations with the special rapporteur. We've discussed Bradley Manning's case with him. But in terms of visits to PFC Manning, that's something for the Department of Defense.
LEE: And the ICRC with the same problem? You are -- the State Department is the direct contact with the ICRC. At least it was for the Guantanamo inmates. Have you had any contact with them?
TONER: I'm not aware. I don't know. I’d have to look into that. But in terms of the UN special rapporteur, we've had conversations with him. We have ongoing conversations with him. But in terms of access to Manning, that's something for the Department of Defense.
MOHAMMED: If you welcome scrutiny, where's the harm?
TONER: I said we're having conversations with him. We’re trying to work with him to meet his needs. But I don't understand the question.
MOHAMMED: Well, you said you welcome scrutiny from outsiders of the United States human rights record --
TONER: Right. We do.
MOHAMMED: -- that you feel that it speaks to the strength of the U.S. system. So why does it take very lengthy conversations to agree to let a UN special rapporteur have access to an inmate?
TONER: Well, again, for the specific visitation requests, that's something that Department of Defense would best answer. But look, we've been very clear that there's a legal process underway. We've been forthright, I think, in talking about Private -- PFC Manning's situation. We are in conversations, ongoing conversations with the special rapporteur. We have nothing to hide. But in terms of an actual visit to Manning, that's something that DOD would handle.
LEE: Well, but you have conveyed messages from DOD back to the UN on this?
TONER: Well, no. We're just -- look, we're aware of his requests. We're working with him.
LEE: Can -- you said you've been forthright in your discussions of his treatment. It seems to me that the only person who was forthright in discussions of his treatment resigned several days after making those comments. What -- can you explain what you mean by you've been forthright in terms of his treatment?
TONER: He is being held in legal detention. There's a legal process underway, so I'm not going to discuss in any more detail than what I -- beyond what I've just said because there's a legal process underway.
LEE: So that's what you mean by forthright?
TONER: I can't discuss -- I can't discuss his treatment.
LEE: Being forthright is saying nothing because there's a legal process underway; is that correct?
TONER: That's not correct at all. And we've -- we continue to talk to the special rapporteur about his case.
LEE: Well, okay. So if you've been -- what do you talk to him about?
TONER: I'm not going to talk about --
LEE: He says, "I'd like to visit him and I need to do it privately," and you say, "No," and that's --
TONER: I'm not going to talk about the substance of those conversations. I'd just say we feel we've been --
LEE: Well, then I don't understand how you can say that you're being forthright about it if you refuse to talk about it. And if you don't talk about it, at least -- forget about what the actual conditions of his treatment are, but if you're not prepared to talk about your conversations with the special rapporteur, that's being even less than not being forthright because you're not telling us what you told him.
TONER: But you understand the legal constraints that I'm operating under because this is an ongoing legal process.
LEE: Right. But --
TONER: He is being held --
LEE: I understand that you're put in a difficult position where you say that you're willing, as Arshad noted when the -- that you're -- you don't understand why China is so upset because the U.S. is willing to open up its human rights situation to all kinds of scrutiny --
TONER: And, Matt --
LEE: And then the first example that anyone raises, you're not.
Are the feds so tone deaf and shortsighted that they don't recognize what they're doing?
You might also notice, in the midst of this, there's a reference by Lee to "the only person who was forthright in discussions of his treatment resigned several days after making those comments," which is an obvious reference to Toner's predecessor, PJ Crowley who was forced out of his job after stating the obvious: that Manning's treatment is counterproductive to US interests. Earlier in the conversation, Toner had claimed that part of the US's strong record on human rights was that you could criticize the government's actions without fear of recrimination. The reference to Crowley suggests that everyone recognizes that's not true.
Again, before anyone brings it up, no one is saying that the US is as bad as China when it comes to human rights. But the US loses pretty much all of its credibility on the subject with many of its recent actions.