Freedom and justice, evicted from America, may have found a new home

Summary:  The America-that-once-was slowly evolves into the New America, a harsh truth cloaked in lies. We don’t want to see; we don’t want to know. Events like the affair Assange provide a magic mirror. Will we dare to look, and see what our news media and geopolitical experts will not say?

Who is the fairest nation of them all?

Magic mirror on the wall
Who is the fairest nation of them all?

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Declaration by Ecuador granting asylum to Julian Assange of WikiLeaks
  3. What this tells us about American justice
  4. Other posts about the affair Assange

(1)  Introduction

The victory of bin Laden on 9/11 results from the transformation of America. Since then we’ve worked to tear down what the “greatest generation” built after WWII — the foundation for a system of international law and justice upon which subsequent generations could build. This helped win the Cold War, and could have provided the dominant spirit for the 21st century. It was America’s greatest accomplishment until then on the world’s stage. And now looks like it will remain so for several generations, and perhaps forever.

Since 9/11 we’ve become outlaws to that system. As the global hegemon, we lead the forces dismantling it — cheered on by those seeking to dominate neighbors by force, and those willing to use violence to spread ideology, religion, or just chaos.  Every action of ours will find imitators.  Using drones and trained killers to assassinate enemies in foreign nations, torture, abduction and lifetime detention of enemies.  All these are timeless, but now we’ve re-legitimized them.

And now we see our government’s crusade to destroy WikiLeaks, the largest threat to the information hegemony they (especially Team Obama) seek to establish.  In that they’ll pressure allies to corrupt their criminal justice systems, and even break the centuries long rights of asylum and inviolability of embassies.  We’re outlaws, enlisting allied nations into our gang. Incidents like this act as magic mirrors, allowing us to see what we’ve become.

The concepts the western nations, which we lead for a time, released upon the world might find new homes now that we’ve evicted them. Look at the following statement by Ecuador.  Such words were formerly spoken by US officials, instead of the hypocrisy and lies that are all we hear now.  Ecuador’s people should feel pride reading this.  And Americans — how do you feel when reading this?

(2)  Declaration by the government the Republic of Ecuador

Excerpt of a transcript of the announcement that Ecuador has granted asylum to Julian Assange, made at a press conference by Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino, 16 August 2012. Posted at WikiLeaks (it’s crimethink, so the US news media only hint at its contents). Section headings have been inserted.

The decision

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Do we dare to ask the mirror if we’re still the fairest nation?

… The Government of Ecuador, faithful to the asylum procedures and with the utmost attention to this case, has reviewed and evaluated all aspects of this case, particularly the arguments presented by Mr. Assange to support the fear he feels regarding this situation as a threat to his life, personal safety and freedoms.

It is important to note that Mr. Assange has taken the decision to seek asylum and protection of Ecuador over alleged allegations of “espionage and treason,” which “instigate fear of the possibility of being handed over to the United States of America by British, Swedish or Australian authorities,“ said Mr. Assange, since the USA is chasing him for releasing compromising information sensitive to the U.S. Government. The applicant mentions that he “is a victim of persecution in various countries, which is deduced not only from their ideas and actions, but of his work of publishing information which compromises the powerful, uncovers the truth and therefore exposes corruption and abuses of human rights of citizens around the world.”

Therefore, according to the applicant, the indictment for crimes of a political nature is the basis for his asylum request, because in his judgement he is facing a situation involving an imminent danger which he cannot escape. In order to assess his fear of possible political persecution, and that this persecution could end up becoming a situation which curtails and  violates his rights, integrity, and could become a risk to his personal safety and freedom, the Government of Ecuador has considered the following:

  1. Julian Assange is an award-winning communications professional internationally known for his struggles for freedom of expression, press freedom and human rights in general;
  2. Mr. Assange shared privileged documents and information generated by various sources that affected employees, countries and organizations with a global audience;
  3. That there is strong evidence of retaliation by the country or countries that produced the information disclosed by Mr. Assange, retaliation that may endanger his safety, integrity, and even his life;
  4. That, despite Ecuador’s diplomatic efforts, countries which have been asked to give adequate safeguards for the protection and safety for the life of Mr. Assange have refused to facilitate them;
  5. That Ecuadorian authorities are certain of the possibility that Mr. Assange could be extradited to a third country outside the European Union without proper guarantees for their safety and personal integrity;
  6. That legal evidence clearly shows that, given an extradition to the United States of America, it would be unlikely for Mr. Assange to receive a fair trial, and likely that he would be judged by special or military courts, where there is a high probability of suffering cruel and degrading treatment, and be sentenced to life imprisonment or capital punishment, which would violate his human rights;
  7. That while Mr. Assange must answer for the investigation in Sweden, Ecuador is aware that the Swedish prosecutor has had a contradictory attitude that prevented Mr. Assange the full exercise of the legitimate right of defense;
  8. Ecuador is convinced that the procedural rights of Mr. Assange have been infringed upon during the investigation;
  9. Ecuador has observed that Mr. Assange lacks the protection and assistance that should be received from the State of which he is a citizen;
  10. That, following several public statements and diplomatic communications by officials from Britain, Sweden and the USA, it is inferred that these governments would not respect international conventions and treaties, and would give priority to domestic law, in violation of explicit rules of universal application and,
  11. That, if Mr. Assange is remanded to custody in Sweden (as is customary in this country), a chain of events would begin that would prevent further protective measures from being taken to avoid possible extradition to a third country.

Thus, the Government of Ecuador believes that these arguments lend support to the fears of Julian Assange, and it believes that he may become a victim of political persecution, as a result of his dedicated defense of freedom of expression and freedom of press as well as his repudiation of the abuses of power in certain countries, and that these facts suggest that Mr. Assange could at any moment find himself in a situation likely to endanger life, safety or personal integrity. This fear has driven him to exercise the right to seek and receive asylum in the Embassy of Ecuador in the UK.

Asylum, a universal human right agreed to by the international community through many treaties

… It is undeniable that states, having agreed to numerous and substantive international instruments (many of them legally-binding), have the obligation to provide protection or asylum to persons persecuted for political reasons and have expressed their desire to establish a legal institution to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms based on a general practice accepted as law, which confers on such obligations a mandatory nature, erga  omnes {see Wikipedia}, linked to the respect, protection and progressive  development of human rights and fundamental freedoms that are part of jus cogens {see Peremptory norm at Wikipedia}. Some of these instruments are mentioned below:

  1. United Nations Charter of 1945: Purposes and Principles of the United  Nations:  all members to cooperate in the promotion and  protection of human rights;
  2. Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948: right to seek and enjoy  asylum in any country, for political reasons (Article 14);
  3. Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, 1948: right to seek and enjoy asylum for political reasons (Article 27);
  4. Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949: relative to the Protection of  Civilian Persons in Time of War: the protected person should in no case be transferred to a country where they fear persecution for his political views ( Article 45);
  5. Convention on the Status of Refugees 1951 and Protocol of New York 1967: prohibits returning or expelling refugees to countries where their lives and freedom would be threatened (Art. 33.1);
  6. Convention on Diplomatic Asylum, 1954: The State has the right to grant asylum and classify the nature of the offense or the motives of  persecution (Article 4);
  7. Convention on Territorial Asylum of 1954: the State is entitled to  admit to its territory such persons as it considers necessary (Article  1), when they are persecuted for their beliefs, political opinions or  affiliation, or acts that may be considered political offenses ( Article  2), the State granting asylum may not return or expel a refugee who is  persecuted for political reasons or offenses (Article 3); also,  extradition is not appropriate when dealing with people who, according  to the requested State, be prosecuted for political crimes , or common crimes committed for political purposes, or when extradition is requested obeying political motives (Article 4);
  8. European Convention on Extradition of 1957: prohibits extradition if  the requested Party considers that the offense is a political charge (Article 3.1);
  9. UN Declaration on Territorial Asylum of 1967: provides for the  granting of asylum to persons who have that right under Article 14 of  the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including persons struggling  against colonialism (Article 1.1). It prohibits the refusal of admission, expulsion and return to any State where he may be subject to persecution (Article 3.1);
  10. Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 1969: provides that the  rules and principles of general international law imperatives do not support a contrary agreement, the treaty is void upon conflicts with one of these rules (Article 53),  and if there arises a new peremptory norm of this nature, any existing treaty which conflicts with that provision is void and is terminated (Article 64). As regards the application of these Articles, the Convention allows States to claim compliance with the International Court of Justice, without  requiring the agreement of the respondent State, accepting the court’s  jurisdiction (Article 66.b). Human rights are norms of jus cogens.
  11. American Convention on Human Rights, 1969: right to seek and enjoy asylum for political reasons (Article 22.7);
  12. European Convention for the Suppression of Terrorism of 1977: the  requested State is entitled to refuse extradition when there is a danger that the person is prosecuted or punished for their political opinions (Article 5);
  13. Inter-American Convention on Extradition of 1981: the extradition is not applicable when the person has been tried or convicted, or is to be tried in a court of special or ad hoc in the requesting State (Article  4.3), when, under the  classification of the requested State, whether political crimes or related crimes or crimes with a political aim pursued, and when, the  circumstances of the case, can be inferred that persecution for reasons  of race, religion or nationality; that the situation of the person sought may be prejudiced for any of these reasons (Article 4.5). Article  6 provides, in reference to the right of asylum, that “nothing in this Convention shall be construed as limiting the right of asylum, when appropriate.”
  14. African Charter on Human and Peoples of 1981: pursued individual’s right to seek and obtain asylum in other countries (Article 12.3);
  15. Cartagena Declaration of 1984: recognizes the right to seek refuge, not to be rejected at the border and not to be returned.
  16. Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union 2000: establishes the right of diplomatic and consular protection. Every citizen of the Union shall, in the territory of a third country not  represented by the Member State of nationality, have the protection of  diplomatic and consular authorities of any Member State, under the same  conditions as nationals of that State (Article 46).

The Government of Ecuador believes it is important to note that the rules and principles recognized in the international instruments mentioned above and in other multilateral agreements take precedence over domestic law of States, because these treaties are based on universal rules guided by intangible principles, whereof deriving greater respect, protection and fulfillment of human rights against unilateral attitudes of such States. This  would compromise international law, which should instead be strengthened in order to consolidate the respect of fundamental rights in terms of integration and ecumenical character.

Not the Founders’ idea of the “City on a Hill”

The secret agenda of the  UK, Sweden and USA

Furthermore, since Assange applied for asylum in Ecuador, we have maintained high-level  diplomatic talks with the United Kingdom, Sweden and the United States.

In the course of these conversations, our country has sought to obtain strict guarantees from the UK government that Assange would face, without hindrance, an open legal process in Sweden. These safeguards include that after facing his legal responsibilities in Sweden, that he would not be extradited to a third country; that is, ensuring that the Specialty Rule is not waived. Unfortunately, despite repeated exchanges of messages, the UK at no time showed signs of wanting to reach a political compromise, and merely repeated the content of legal texts.

Assange’s lawyers invited Swedish authorities to take Assange statements in the premises of the Embassy of Ecuador in London. Ecuador officially conveyed to Swedish authorities its willingness to host this interview without interference or impediment to the legal processes followed in Sweden. This measure is absolutely legally possible. Sweden did not accept.

On the other hand, Ecuador raised the possibility that the Swedish government establish guarantees to not subsequently extradite Assange to the United States. Again, the Swedish government rejected any compromise in this regard.

Finally, Ecuador wrote to the U.S. government to officially reveal its position on Assange’s case. Inquiries related to the following:

  • If there is an ongoing legal process or intent to carry out such processes against Julian Assange and/or the founders of the WikiLeaks organization;
  • Should the above be true, then under what kind of legislation, and how and under what conditions would such persons be subject to under maximum penalties;
  • Whether there is an intention to request the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States.

The  U.S. response has been that it cannot provide information about the Assange case, claiming that it is a bilateral matter between Ecuador and the United Kingdom.

We’ve become the Evil Queen. How will we react to truth spoke by the mirror?

The conclusion

With this background, the Government of Ecuador, true to its tradition of protecting those who seek refuge in its territory or on the premises of its diplomatic missions, has decided to grant diplomatic asylum to Mr. Assange,

(3)  What this tells us about American justice

As so many, such as Glenn Greenwald have shown, a culture of lawlessness has taken root in the highest reaches of America.  The law has become a tool to crush their enemies, while they remain above and outside its reach.  The latest to see this is John Aziz: “Assange or Corzine?“, at Azizonomics, 16 August 2012 — Excerpt:

Priorities are a bitch.

The United States won’t prosecute Corzine for raiding segregated customer accounts, but will happily convene a Grand Jury in preparation for prosecuting Julian Assange for exposing the truth about war crimes.

the issue at hand is the sense that we have entered a phase of exponential criminality and corruption. A slavering crook like Corzine who stole $200 million of clients’ funds can walk free. Meanwhile, a man who exposed evidence of serious war crimes is for that act so keenly wanted by US authorities that Britain has threatened to throw hundreds of years of diplomatic protocol and treaties into the trash and raid the embassy of another sovereign state to deliver him to a power that seems intent not only to criminalise him, but perhaps even to summarily execute him. The Obama administration, of course, has made a habit of summary extrajudicial executions of those that it suspects of terrorism, and the detention and prosecution of whistleblowers. And the ooze of large-scale financial corruption, rate-rigging, theft and fraud goes on unpunished.

(4)  Posts about the affair Assange

(a)  About this form of 4GW in the 21st century:

(b)  Posts about the Julian Assange affair:

  1. Sad news about the CIA, 23 August 2010 – Delusional assumption about America savvy.
  2. The full story of the rape charges against Julian Assange of Wikileaks, a possible covert op., 27 August 2010
  3. Update to the WikeLeaks rape story, and why it’s important, 29 August 2010 – If a covert op, it’s working
  4. New and strange developments in the prosecution of Julian Assange (Wikileaks), 1 September 2010 – New but not more enlightening.
  5. Endgame for the affair Assange: a big win for the government, 27 September 2010
  6. The US government successfully smears Wikileaks, while America sleeps, 22 October 2010

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It’s great to be the Queen AND the fairest of them all! You agree, of course?

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20 thoughts on “Freedom and justice, evicted from America, may have found a new home

  1. Successful programs by our government like the takedown of Assange — and the assassination of Al-Awlaki — happen only with the support of our journalists, news commentators, and geopolitical experts. Cheerleaders for the American Empire, and the Imperial State.

    Michael Cohen

    Here we have a clear example from Michael Cohen (one of the best of the crop; bio here) writing on Twitter as @speechboy71. Note his feigned ignorance about the basics of asylum and the details of the two-year long affair Assange.

    “Great they’re defending someone charged with sexual misconduct – beam with courageous pride.”

    “I think he shouldn’t be hiding behind diplo immunity to avoid justice”

    “And I’m sickened that do many liberals are willing to defend this man simply cuz he stuck his finger in Americas eye”

    “And asylum isn’t a right for accused sexual predators”

    “The problem is there’s no evidence this is politically driven – that’s just Assange propaganda”

    This isn’t someone just off the boat. Cohen knows the rumors of US grand jury indictments (which the US government refused to deny to Ecuador), the CIA’s long history of dirty operations, the US government’s war on whistleblowers, the treatment (verging on torture) of Bradley Manning, the suspicious history of Sweden’s prosecution of Assange — and the apparently open-budget multinational pursuit of him.

    To Cohen there is nothing suspicious here. Just move along. No grounds to even consider this a politically motivated prosecution, and hence legitimate grounds for Ecuador to grant asylum.

    Unquestioned agreement with the actions of our government require tightly closed eyes and minds. Or skillful doublethink. Or to be a bit of a sociopath. These are all mutually compatible.

  2. When i scan Cohen’s bio and his tweets re Assage, I get a queezy feeling in the gut. He displays a shocking bias and prejudice. A writer of his supposed stature should be more respectful to the notion of innocence until guilt is proven. His presumption of Assange’s guilt is facile. Where are the questions concerning the heavy handedness of the US government and the possibly tacit compliance of the governments of Sweden and the U.K. concerning extradition on politically motivated trumped-up charges.

    Maurice Brown, Ottawa, Ontario

    1. All good questions. I wish I had answers.

      When it comes to important issues, US journalists and geopolitical experts tend to toe the line. And crushing WikiLeaks appears to be a high priority for the US government, as control of information is one of the primary means of directing public opinion.

      On secondary issues that can become severe critics, to establish their chops. How is this discipline is established and maintained? I don’t know.

      There are a few prominent outsiders, like Prof Juan Cole, Andrew Bacevich. There are critics who established themselves in other fields, and leveraged their celebrity (eg, Norm Chomsky).

    2. Assange hasn’t even been “charged with sexual misconduct” – the Swedes simply want to ask him a few questions. The first prosecutor who looked at the situation decided not to prosecute and told Assange he could go. It wasn’t until Assange was out of the country that a second prosecutor took up the case and started asking for him to be extradited.

      New stuff that’s come out is very interesting. Apparently the Ecuadorians offered the Swedes an opportunity for their prosecutor or whoever to meet with Assange and question him at the Ecuadorian embassy – where nobody could throw a bag over his head and stuff him on a plane to Andrews Air Force Base. Apparently that wasn’t good enough for the Swedes.

      It is very clear that justice is being bent over backwards until her spine is ready to snap, in this case. The next time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton finger-wags at the Chinese for suppressing dissidents I hope they horse-laugh in her face.

    3. Ranum points to several of the many interesting details in this statement by the Ecuador government — things unknown to Americans since our news media will not mention them.

      As for the details about the prosecution — I’ve lost track, but remember that Sweden’s system radically differs from ours. The criminal justice system of most European nation uses Magistrates, which combine the functions of prosecutor and judge. That was the issue before the UK High Court regarding Assange’s extradition: was the Swedish prosecutor a judicial authority? They ruled that in effect the answer was yes, and that Assange had in effect been charged with crimes.

      I have not found reliable english language sources describing the exact charges. If you have found any, please post a comment pointing to them!

  3. Freedom and justice were all along clever Hollywood myths. Look at the American Literature: Steinbeck, Upton Sinclair but also Keruac Arthur Miller etc. etc. etc. for evidence. Prominent US thinkers have seen this at least since 1880 and to this day. I remember texts from the 1930-s, that were predicting a massive US civil war as the culmination.

    Should we live with Hollywood dreams? No! Dreams and dope are not the way to live!

    1. houswife77’s comment takes us to the heart of philosophy, the personal values foundational for each of us.

      I believe that freedom and justice are valuable goals for us, both individually and collectively. They are the essence of the American experiment. The world is fashioned by the clashing of such values.

    2. “Should we live with Hollywood dreams? No! Dreams and dope are not the way to live!”

      It truly is essential that henceforth one continue to insist upon the reality of such personal values. They become more scarce in the Public and are aborgated by those who have the pulpit but that alone indicates the insistence is more pressing. And it is a timeless adventure.

      “The world is fashioned by the clashing of such values.”

      Breton

  4. Justice is definitely following the golden rule these days. It probably always has, they were just more subtle about it.

    Today on Ars Technica is another article that fits so well into this puzzle:

    Private justice: How Hollywood money put a Brit behind bars. Industry-funded prosecution leads to 4-year sentence for SurfTheChannel owner.

    Anton Vickerman, 38-year old owner of the once popular link site surfthechannel.com (STC), was sentenced to four years in prison on Tuesday by a British judge. But the prosecutors sitting across the courtroom from him didn’t work for the Crown — they were lawyers for the movie studio trade group Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT).

    1. That’s a great example. America has similar trends. Increasingly privatized police, privatized justice (eg, mandatory arbitration through industry-run forums).

      This is the goal of our ruling elites, taking us back to the future. A time of high, middle, and low justice. The aristos are immune from normal laws, subject only to those regulating their behavior wrt the State and each other. Middle justice for the middle classes, serving to keep them in line and regulating their behavior. And justice for the low: outright oppression.

      It’s the New America!

    1. It’s always OK to have your feelings! That’s what you are. What each of us is.

      I don’t think anyone can clearly see any aspect of human history and society without those combination of feelings.

      This is why Gnosticism is the one true religion, because it explains why this is so.

  5. How did we ever become so full of hubris and driven by vengance? Very sad. I see exposing our sins to the light of day as an opportunity to improve ourselves and purge our government at the next available election. Unfortunately, the ruling class does not see it as so, and our people continue to slumber.

    Did Assange commit crimes in Sweden? I do not know. What I do know is that it is very strange how Swedish authorities have gone back and forth on whether to pursue this or not. Interesting timeline from BBC: sexual allegations against Assange in Sweden

    Assange had no sworn loyalty to us, nor did he commit any crimes within our jurisdiction, yet I see that the firing squad is impatiently waiting with a pack of Lucky’s and a blindfold. This has already been sorted out between the Brits, Swedes, Aussies, and our government, (“Diplomatic cables reveal Australia expects U.S. to charge Julian Assange“, Raw Story, 17 August 2012) and I think that the best that Mr. Assange can hope for is somehow making it to Ecuador, and living out his life there. Most of the rest of the world is more than willing to bend over backwards to assist us in satisfying our vengance.

    Further evidence is the way that Wikileaks has been hack attacked continuously. Who is responsible? Computers from Europe, Asia, and Russia is what I have read (mercenary hackers?), but a closer look reveals that when Wikileaks switched to Amazon’s servers to ease the attacks, a quiet word from an Aide of Senator Joe Lieberman got them dumped (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/04/world/europe/04domain.html).

    We are now in an age in which our rulers have too much power over us, and too much threat based influence in the world as a whole. FM has plenty of articles demonstrating this, and Marcus J. Ranum gives another great example above. Further to this, look into the case of Richard O’Dwyer. In brief: This guy ran a file sharing site in UK (UK citizen). The site offered LINKS to pirated American media. His site was not available on US servers. His site was seized by ICE (along with 82 others). The US requested his extradition to face charges in the US of copyright infringement, and a British Judge ruled that O’Dwyer could in fact be extradited (The extradition is currently being fought). Ten years ago, the Brits would have told us to; “Get stuffed”.

    Both of these cases to me, illustrate that we have become the “Great and Powerful Oz”, with way too much say so, way too much power, and with a horrible infection of hubris that will eventually have even our allies against us. Time to pull aside the curtain and toss the bums out. Unfortunately, that will not occur until our sleeping people awake and realize that they are responsible for everything that happens (or doesn’t happen) here.

    1. “vengance”

      I don’t believe the motive of US government officials is mostly vengence (although the emails from Stratfor suggest that’s on the list). More importantly is destroying Assange, damaging WikiLeaks — and discouraging others from doing anything similar in the future.

      The Obama Administration (and probably those following him, since this looks like a new policy) is to punish both leakers and those passing on leaks to the fullest extent of the law — and beyond.

  6. A bit more: Going to O’Dwyer’s site (tvshack.net) guides you to a big page with law enforcement badges and police tape saying; “Seized”…..You are then automatically redirected to a cutsie anti-piracy video on youtube. Wow. The Wizard of Oz would be sooooooooo jealous.

  7. Human rights critics of Russia and Ecuador parade their own hypocrisy“, Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian, 21 August 2012 –The media’s new converts to civic freedom over the Pussy Riot and Assange asylum affairs show a jingoism blind to US abuses” — Excerpt:

    Readers of the American and British press over the past month have been inundated with righteous condemnations of Ecuador‘s poor record on press freedoms. Is this because western media outlets have suddenly developed a new-found devotion to defending civil liberties in Latin America? Please. To pose the question is to mock it.

    It’s because feigning concern for these oppressive measures is a convenient instrument for demeaning and punishing Ecuador for the supreme crime of defying the US and its western allies. The government of President Rafael Correa granted asylum to western establishmentarians’ most despised figure, Julian Assange, and Correa’s government then loudly condemned Britain’s implied threats to invade its embassy. Ecuador must therefore be publicly flogged for its impertinence, and its press freedom record is a readily available whip. As a fun bonus, denunciations of Correa’s media oppression is a cheap and easy way to deride Assange’s supposed hypocrisy.

    (Apparently, activists should only seek asylum from countries with pristine human rights records, whichever countries those might be: a newly concocted standard that was conspicuously missing during the saga of blind Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng at the US embassy; I don’t recall any western media outlets accusing Guangcheng of hypocrisy for seeking refuge from a country that indefinitely imprisons people with no charges, attacked Iraq, assassinates its own citizens with no due process on the secret orders of the president, bombs funerals and rescuers in Pakistan, uses extreme force and mass arrests to try to obliterate the peaceful Occupy protest movement, wages an unprecedented war on whistleblowers, prosecutes its Muslim citizens for posting YouTube videos critical of US foreign policy, embraces and arms the world’s most oppressive regimes, and imprisoned Muslim journalists for years at Guantánamo and elsewhere with no charges of any kind.)

    But this behavior illustrates how purported human rights concerns are cynically exploited as a weapon by western governments and, more inexcusably, by their nationalistic, self-righteous media enablers. Concern over a foreign regime’s human rights abuses are muted, often nonexistent, when those regimes dutifully adhere to US dictates, but are amplified to deafening levels when nations defy those dictates and, especially, when it’s time to wage war against them. This is why attacks on protesters by US-supported regimes in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are typically described by western media outlets with the innocuous-sounding, both-sides-are-to-blame term “clashes with rebels”, while villain-of-the-moment regimes in Iran, Syria or Libya are said to be slaughtering their own citizens. It’s why arming Syrian rebels to enable them to defend against regime oppression is conventional wisdom, whereas arming Palestinian rebels to defend against Israeli violence is criminal.

    … An eagerness to condemn abuses by foreign governments while largely ignoring one’s own is not merely cowardly, though it is that. And it’s not merely an abdication of the prime journalistic duty, though it is that, too. Worst of all, it’s the media behavior that most effectively bolsters state propaganda, as it signals to the citizenry: human rights violations and civil liberties assaults are something those Bad Foreign Governments over there do, but not your own.

    I would take more seriously all of this very inspirational, newfound worry about Ecuadorian press freedoms and Russian free speech rights on the part of Western media figures if they evinced any similar interest in infringements and abuses by their own governments and their allies: ones much more difficult, though much more consequential, to oppose.

  8. America’s refusal to extradite Bolivia’s ex-president to face genocide charges“, Glenn Greenwald, columnist at The Guardian, 9 September 2012 — “Obama justice officials have all but granted asylum to Sánchez de Lozada – a puppet who payrolled key Democratic advisers.”

    Excerpt:

    In October 2003, the intensely pro-US president of Bolivia, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, sent his security forces to suppress growing popular protests against the government’s energy and globalization policies. Using high-powered rifles and machine guns, his military forces killed 67 men, women and children, and injured 400 more, almost all of whom were poor and from the nation’s indigenous Aymara communities. Dozens of protesters had been killed by government forcesin the prior months when troops were sent to suppress them.

    The resulting outrage over what became known as “the Gas Wars” drove Sanchez de Lozada from office and then into exile in the United States, where he was welcomed by his close allies in the Bush administration. He has lived under a shield of asylum in the US ever since.

    The Bolivians, however, have never stopped attempting to bring their former leader to justice for what they insist are his genocide and crimes against humanity: namely, ordering the killing of indigenous peaceful protesters in cold blood (as Time Magazine put it: “according to witnesses, the military fired indiscriminately and without warning in El Alto neighborhoods”). In 2007, Bolivian prosecutors formally charged him with genocide for the October 2003 incident, charges which were approved by the nation’s supreme court.

    Bolivia then demanded his extradition from the US for him to stand trial. That demand, ironically, was made pursuant to an extradition treaty signed by Sánchez de Lozada himself with the US. Civil lawsuits have also been filed against him in the US on behalf of the surviving victims.

    The view that Sánchez de Lozada must be extradited from the US to stand trial is a political consensus in Bolivia, shared by the government and the main opposition party alike. But on Friday night, the Bolivian government revealed that it had just been notified by the Obama administration that the US government has refused Bolivia’s extradition request …

    Then, there are the very revealing parallels between this case and the recent decision by Ecuador to grant asylum to Julian Assange, until his fears of political persecution from being extradited to Sweden are resolved. Remember all those voices who were so deeply outraged at Ecuador’s decision? Given that he faces criminal complaints in Sweden, they proclaimed, protecting Assange with asylum constitutes a violent assault on the rule of law.

    Do you think any of the people who attacked Ecuador on that ground will raise a peep of protest at what the US did here in shielding this former leader from facing charges of genocide and crimes against humanity back in his own country? In contrast to Ecuador – which is fervently seeking an agreement to allow Assange to go to Sweden to face those allegations while simultaneously protecting his political rights – the US has done nothing, and is doing nothing, to ensure that Sánchez de Lozada will ever have to face trial. To the contrary, until Thursday, the US has steadfastly refused even to acknowledge Bolivia’s extradition request, even though the crimes for which they want to try him are plainly within the scope of the two nations’ extradition treaty.

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