Monday, June 06, 2005

"No new evidence" of gulag, says AI USA

James G. Lakely of the Washington Times has a useful story on AI USA backing away - now that they have got the useful bump in press coverage, memberships, and donations - from its press release charges of gulags, etc. Thanks to RCP. Read it here. Excerpt:

The head of Amnesty International's American branch yesterday acknowledged that he "doesn't know for sure" what is going on at Guantanamo Bay prison, although Amnesty International's secretary-general has called the terrorist prison run at a U.S. military base in Cuba a "gulag."

However, William F. Schulz defended the description made last week by Irene Khan, saying on "Fox News Sunday" yesterday that America's "archipelago of prisons throughout the world" are "similar in character, if not in size" to the Soviet gulags, where millions of political prisoners were killed.

"I don't believe [the charges] are irresponsible," said Mr. Schulz, the executive director of Amnesty International U.S.A. "I've told you the ways in which I think that [there are] analogies between the Soviet prison system and the United States."

Pressed to cite concrete evidence that Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales are the "architects" of "systematic torture" at the prison, Mr. Schulz could produce none.

"We don't know for sure what all is happening at Guantanamo and our whole point is that the United States ought to allow independent human rights organizations to investigate," Mr. Schulz said, adding that Amnesty International was careful to use the word "alleged" when accusing high-level Bush administration officials.

(Update, Monday, June 6, 2005. A couple of other interesting articles. One is David Bosco, Equivalency Test, at the New Republic Online (reg. req.), here. Bosco, a senior editor of Foreign Policy magazine, is no fan of Guantanamo, and offers a straightforward, objective comparison of Guantanamo and the Soviet gulag, using Anne Applebaum's Pulitzer winning account. Then there is John Leo, in US News and World Report, here, talking about media bias that reveals itself in the stories that the media do not tell - he notes that very few in the media publicized Amnesty's call for the arrest by foreign governments of senior US government officials - presumably because the media thought it was so crazy that it would undermine the credibility they themselves seemingly wanted to confer upon Amnesty. Leo might also have added the claim of Latin American style "disappearances," also in AI SG Irene Kahn's press release.)

(Update, Friday, June 17, 2005. Heather MacDonald, the Manhattan Institute, challenging the "torture narrative" in the media, here, at National Review Online. As I've said in posts on MacDonald earlier, I think she underplays the extent of abuse that still falls well short of torture, but her point is well taken. And the Durbin Nazi remarks, here, here, and Donald Rumsfeld's response, here.)

(Update, Saturday, June 18, 2005. More reaction on Gitmo, from RCP. Pavel Litvinov, a former Soviet dissident from the Gulag now living in the US, while critical of US policy, rejects the Gulag characterization, here in the Washington Post. Senator Jon Kyl counter-attacking against Democratic calls to close the camp, in RCP commentary, here.)

(Update, Sunday, June 19, 2005: Mark Steyn on the Durbin Nazi-Stalin-Pol Pot comparisons, here; also in a separate article, here.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is not just extreme left that is seeming to 'enjoy' the story on "American Gulag". Some high level right wing people like Paul Craig Roberts (a Reagan Cabinet officer)
seem to feel that way too.