Saturday, June 18, 2005

AI and the "gulag" episode

I had commented on the AI "gulag" reference elsewhere, and this is quite an old story by this time, but I have to say that I agree 100 percent with the piece by a former Soviet "prisoner of conscience" in today's Washington Post:
The most effective way to criticize U.S. behavior is to frankly acknowledge that this country should be held to a higher standard based on its own Constitution, laws and traditions. We cannot fulfill our responsibilities as the world's only superpower without being perceived as a moral authority. Despite the risks posed by terrorism, the United States cannot indefinitely detain people considered dangerous without appropriate safeguards for their conditions of detention and periodic review of their status.

Words are important. When Amnesty spokesmen use the word "gulag" to describe U.S. human rights violations, they allow the Bush administration to dismiss justified criticism and undermine Amnesty's credibility. Amnesty International is too valuable to let it be hijacked by politically biased leaders.

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