Foreign and Defense Policy

Time to shun Amnesty International

Last week, as George W. Bush began a tour of Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Zambia to raise awareness about cervical and breast cancer in Africa, Amnesty International chose the moment to demand those countries arrest Bush “for crimes under international law.” Yes, that’s right. Amnesty wants the former U.S. president arrested. The group issued a statement declaring:

Amnesty International considers that there is enough evidence in the public domain, from U.S. authorities and from George W. Bush himself, to trigger requirements for Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Zambia to investigate his alleged involvement in and responsibility for torture, and to secure his presence during the investigation.

“All countries to which George W. Bush travels have an obligation to bring him to justice for his role in torture,” said Matt Pollard, senior legal adviser…

Amnesty International has written to the Ministers of Justice in each of the respective countries to remind them about their obligations under international law and providing them with the supporting documentation making the case for the investigation of George W. Bush.

This is, quite simply, outrageous. And it is not the first time Amnesty has made such a call. Last October, when Bush traveled to British Columbia, the group demanded that Canada arrest him as well. At the time, Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney blasted Amnesty, declaring, “This kind of stunt helps explain why so many respected human rights advocates have abandoned Amnesty International.”

He is right. It is one thing for a fringe group like the Center for Constitutional Rights, or a rogue Spanish judge like Balthazar Garzon, to call for the arrest of a former American president. But Amnesty International seeks to be part of the fabric of decision-making in Washington—testifying in Congress, meeting with U.S. government officials, participating in policy discussions and debates. Demanding the arrest of a former American president takes them out of the political mainstream and places them in the fever swamps—and that should have consequences.

Representative Peter King (R-New York), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, declared in a statement that “If Amnesty International had any intellectual honesty, it would give President Bush a medal to honor him for liberating so many oppressed Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan and for assisting millions of AIDS victims in Africa.”

King should not hold his breath for Amnesty to do so. But he and other members of Congress should make clear that, because of its actions, Amnesty will henceforth be shunned by official Washington—no longer be invited to testify before congressional committees or participate in decision-making on Capitol Hill. Conservative groups concerned with freedom, democracy, and human rights should similarly refuse to work with Amnesty. The group should pay a steep reputational price for stupidity such as this. If Amnesty wants to behave like a left-wing fringe group, it should be treated as such.

5 thoughts on “Time to shun Amnesty International

  1. This coming from the author of the most intellectually dishonest book written, of late – a book that advocates for torture, and apologizes for a morally repressible administration. But no one takes Marc Thiessen seriously. He’s universally hated by the military and intelligence community.

  2. Hehe If there was a president in history who’s done more damage to the US international image as presenting it of an aggressor and hipocrit, then Bush is out. Otherwise the AE are in full moral right since honesty, like pregnancy, can not be 50% ;-)

  3. As a conservative, I’m embarrassed for Marc Thiessen – and ashamed to have him part of any kind of conservative movement. Having apologists or advocates for torture diminishes the moral authority of our movement.

    I do not share Theo’s perspective about the Bush administration (though I have many misgivings about the Bush administration). But Theo is absolutely right that the military and intelligence community do not take Mr. Thiessen seriously. In fact, (and I can say this with authority) they consider him and his views quite dangerous precisely because they are unserious and misinformed – and clearly are made in defense of a bankrupt policy, and not real intelligence policy.

    I honestly do not understand why Marc Thiessen produces work for the American Enterprise Institute or the Washington Post. That is baffling.

  4. Every single marine in our armed forces is waterboarded. It is not ‘Torture’. Torture is being flayed alive. Torture is having bamboo splinter shoved under you nails. Torture leaves scars. Waterboarding is ‘scary’ but being ‘scared’ is not torture. All the idiots who call this torture are politically motivated and not by human rights.

    Why isn’t anyone stopping 20,000+ marines from being waterboarded avery year in training at our military bases? Because it simply does not rise to the level of torture.

    • I am a US Marine serving with the 3rd Marine Regiment in HI. I am a veteran of OIF and OEF. I have never been waterboarded, not one Marine in my company has been waterboarded as a training evolution. Steve you need to get your facts rite, and not tarnish and demean what we do with your lies. Waterboarding is most certainly torture. I know for a fact that you would not be able to endure 2 secounds of this type of treatment. You would be admitting to anything that your interrogators wanted you to.

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