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

A number of folks have picked up on the near total lack of self-recognition by the US federal government in response to its annual release of a State Department report condemning China's human rights record. Now, there's no doubt that China has a dreadful human rights record, and it deserves to be called out. But, it comes at the same time that the US government appears to be moving down a similar path: promoting plans to censor the internet, avoiding due process, stonewalling journalists and trying to avoid the 4th Amendment entirely. Not surprisingly, these actions within the US make it easy for China to condemn the report and point out how the US is hypocritical. It has allowed China to release it's own "Human Rights Record of the United States in 2010" mocking the US's report.

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?

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. Id 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. Were 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.
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."

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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    weneedhelp (profile), Apr 12th, 2011 @ 12:07pm

    Now, there's no doubt that China has a dreadful human rights record

    Dont worry, we will catch up.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    John Doe, Apr 12th, 2011 @ 12:12pm

    I might argue with this point

    "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."

    While the level of abuse is higher on the severity scale, the fact that the US has any abuse to speak of is outrageous. After all, it was founded on freedom and rights and we hammer on other countries about that every chance we get. They don't profess to respect human rights while we do, so in one respect our trampling of those rights is more severe than theirs.

     

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  3.  
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    Christopher (profile), Apr 12th, 2011 @ 12:12pm

    I wouldn't necessarily be too sure about that "America's incidence is much lower than China's!"

    Personally, the more and more I see posted online? The more I think that the 'land of the free' isn't so free anymore!

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Chris Brand, Apr 12th, 2011 @ 12:16pm

    Rate of change ?

    The key question is how both the US and China are changing - are they getting better or worse, and how fast ?

     

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  5.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Apr 12th, 2011 @ 12:19pm

    Re: Now, there's no doubt that China has a dreadful human rights record

    We'll "normalize."

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2011 @ 12:21pm

    Re: Rate of change ?

    The key question is how both the US and China are changing - are they getting better or worse, and how fast?

    Good point. While China seems to be getting better, the US is racing to the bottom.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Apr 12th, 2011 @ 12:23pm

    Re: Rate of change ?

    Well, Obama did promise change. He is giving it to us, pun intended.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    hobo, Apr 12th, 2011 @ 12:27pm

    Re: Re: Rate of change ?

    Enhh. Ai Weiwei..

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    HothMonster, Apr 12th, 2011 @ 12:33pm

    Re:

    The fact that you can read about it online proves that we are not as bad off as China yet.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    The eejit (profile), Apr 12th, 2011 @ 12:33pm

    Re: Re: Rate of change ?

    Change we can propagandise in.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2011 @ 12:33pm

    Re: I might argue with this point

    Yea... "Land of the free... until we decide it's against our agenda".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    HothMonster, Apr 12th, 2011 @ 12:43pm

    Re: Re: Rate of change ?

    They are sill taking peoples land and forcing them off property families has owned for hundreds of years, disappearing dissenters, censoring everything, and tons of other shit.

    I certainly wouldn't say they are getting better, maybe they stopped getting worse but even thats a stretch. Sure its not Mao's China anymore but while China grows as a global powerhouse its still a nation of billions governed for the benefit of hundreds.

    http://chinaview.wordpress.com/category/social/law/land-seizure/

     

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  13.  
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    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), Apr 12th, 2011 @ 1:08pm

    Jesus.

    That conversation is the saddest thing I've read today.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    RealRick, Apr 12th, 2011 @ 1:17pm

    Treason or not treason

    Either Manning committed treason or he didn't. Have a trial, present evidence, and conclude the whole affair. If the government is waiting because they don't have evidence - which seems to be the prevailing theory of the "Free Manning" crowd - then by all means he should be released as guaranteed by the Constitution. If they are waiting because they really don't want to face the unpleasantness of having to punish him - which is what I think is happening - then the embarassment of having such a jelly-spined Executive Branch is off-scale. Either way, the worst choice is to continue holding him without action.

    I never thought I'd see the day that the Chinese government was more logically operated than the US gov't. I suspect that the Chinese are equally surprised.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2011 @ 1:45pm

    But the US loses pretty much all of its credibility ...

    From an international perspective: this sentence should [unfortunately] probably be in the past tense ...

     

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  16.  
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    FarSide (profile), Apr 12th, 2011 @ 1:56pm

    Re: Re:

    That is small consolation.

    This somewhat flippant comment is repeated whenever anyone has a criticism of US civil rights, as if free speech is the only thing that matters.

    Yes, it is true, we still have a higher recognition of free speech than most of the world. And it is very important.

    But that doesn't mean we should just sit back and ignore offenses against other rights, just because we can read about them online.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    The eejit (profile), Apr 12th, 2011 @ 2:08pm

    Re: Treason or not treason

    Screw that, when Qhadafi starts looking sane and rational, you know you have an issue in that area.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    xs (profile), Apr 12th, 2011 @ 2:12pm

    Re: Re:

    Your infomation is woefully outdated. In China, you can find just as much information about anything Chinese government did or allegedly did as you would find in US. So the fact you read about it online proves nothing.

    The only thing different between China and US right now is people in China is a whole lot more skeptical.

     

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  19.  
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    xs (profile), Apr 12th, 2011 @ 2:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Rate of change ?

    What about him? He was not arrested over free speach issues. Or are you suggest been a political dissident in China entitle him to immunity from any and all crimes?

    In any case, there's an "ongong legal proceeding" regard to him. So, that should be all.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Ben, Apr 12th, 2011 @ 2:28pm

    Re: I might argue with this point

    Every time some puss licking, lying, cowardly, talking piece of SHIT in Washington starts talking about "freedom" I just want to spit in their faces!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    rubberpants, Apr 12th, 2011 @ 2:38pm

    Look, the government isn't stupid. They know that from a "public relations" stand point this is bad for them. Outside of the DoD I would guess it's not popular.

    But, they've made that calculation that it's worth bad press to send an unequivocal message to any other would-be leakers in the military that they will receive the harshest punishment we have to offer no matter how careful they are. In fact, all the attention this is getting only helps to send that message.

    Secrecy is the government's primary defense against it's own people. It's as important to them as the H-bomb.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Apr 12th, 2011 @ 3:21pm

    I don't see a contradiction here. It just shows that the US government cares more about the poor Chinese people than the American citizens. After all, the Chinese gave them fireworks, and those are very patriotic, especially during 4th of July. What have the Americans given to the US?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2011 @ 3:37pm

    Re: Re:

    The fact that you can read about it online proves that we are not as bad off as China yet.

    Not if you're in prison, and the US already has more of its population in prison than China. In that regard, the US is already worse than China.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2011 @ 3:42pm

    Re:

    But, they've made that calculation that it's worth bad press to send an unequivocal message to any other would-be leakers in the military that they will receive the harshest punishment we have to offer no matter how careful they are.

    Yeah, guilty of a crime or not. If those snot-nosed little punks think they can get away with stuff just because they're careful to not break the actual law, they've got another thing coming to them.

    /s

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Call me Al, Apr 12th, 2011 @ 4:13pm

    Blatant hypocrisy

    What frustrates me most about this situation (other than that the poor chap is in jail without due process) is the absolute hypocrisy of the US Administration on this issue. That they still have the nerve to lecture other countries just beggers belief.

    In the last decade the US (and UK and other countries) have taken their relatively good recent human rights records, thrown them in the dirt and then urinated all over them. The trouble is though that they still insist on showing them off as if they are still pristine.

     

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  26.  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Apr 12th, 2011 @ 4:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Rate of change ?

    What about him? He was not arrested over free speach issues. Or are you suggest been a political dissident in China entitle him to immunity from any and all crimes?

    Political dissidence IS a free speech issue, comrade.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2011 @ 4:46pm

    Isn't it amazing that all any Government official has to do these days if they don't want to answer a question is to refer it to the Department Of Defense.

    It's their get out of jail card and it works every time huh.

    They can say that, or "it's an ongoing legal process".

    When Mike contacted Homeland Security about the entirely illegal domain seizures going on didn't they continue to refer him to the DoD.

    How convenient.

    "What is that you say? Oh, you're asking a question that would actually demonstrate some Government transparency. Ok, well, it's an ongoing legal pro....it's a defense issu....it's an ongoing legal and defense issue! HA, got ya sucker!"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    anonymous coward, Apr 12th, 2011 @ 5:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Rate of change ?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2011 @ 5:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Rate of change ?

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/09/26/60minutes/main575343.shtml

    Lies! All lies!
    U...S...A..., U...S...A..., U...S...A..., U...S...A...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Rekrul, Apr 12th, 2011 @ 6:39pm

    Re: Treason or not treason

    Either Manning committed treason or he didn't. Have a trial, present evidence, and conclude the whole affair. If the government is waiting because they don't have evidence - which seems to be the prevailing theory of the "Free Manning" crowd - then by all means he should be released as guaranteed by the Constitution. If they are waiting because they really don't want to face the unpleasantness of having to punish him - which is what I think is happening - then the embarassment of having such a jelly-spined Executive Branch is off-scale. Either way, the worst choice is to continue holding him without action.

    Another very real possibility is that they're hoping that if they keep him under these conditions long enough, he'll eventually confess to a charge of treason, just to get the whole thing over with.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
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    Chargone (profile), Apr 12th, 2011 @ 9:04pm

    Re:

    needs to have been in the past tense for quite some time, really.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    icon
    G Thompson (profile), Apr 12th, 2011 @ 9:44pm

    Re:

    Until the USA ratifies the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into law in which EVERY other country except Somalia has, the US is in the eyes of the wider international community, a country of bankrupt hypocrits

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    icon
    techflaws.org (profile), Apr 12th, 2011 @ 10:16pm

    Re:

    > But, they've made that calculation that it's worth bad press

    Which shows just how stupid they are given the "severity" of those leaks and all the backlash of Manning's detention.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
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    Jay (profile), Apr 12th, 2011 @ 10:18pm

    Found the Youtube of this

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Dogsbody, Apr 13th, 2011 @ 12:07am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "In China, you can find just as much information about anything Chinese government did or allegedly did as you would find in US."

    B^llsh%t. I've lived in China for the last decade (我说普通话) and you cannot find find just as much information about anything Chinese government did or allegedly did as you would find in US.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Dogsbody, Apr 13th, 2011 @ 12:09am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Rate of change ?

    xs is a fenqing troll, he wouldn't know free speech if it punched him in the nose.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2011 @ 6:02am

    I hear Ai Weiwei is in the middle of an ongoing legal process.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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