Today the UN Human Rights Committee released what the Guardian called a “withering” report on the notably battered human rights record lately of our Shining City on the Hill, and it’s downright embarrassing.
Naturally, it included mass surveillance, which President Obama assured us just today would be, well, different, in the very near future, but the sheer length of the list is sobering enough that it made me reach for a bottle at the halfway mark.
In a clear indication that the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights does not share the President’s disdain for looking back, the myriad offenses sound like the prewar hype about Saddam Hussein, minus the fabled weapons of mass destruction, which of course we also have.
The report derides the lack of prosecutions for torture and targeted killings, continued detention at Guantanamo and elsewhere, a punitive judicial system that disproportionally targets and imprisons minorities, continued use of the death penalty, fatal shooting by police, and what have you.
Somehow, (perhaps because they ran out of paper?) the committee failed to mention overzealous prosecution of leakers and hackers, militarized police forces,a war on noncompliant journalists, and routine use of force against nonviolent protesters. This is a shame; if we’re now competing with Iran and China on human rights, let’s not hide our light behind a bushel.
As of this writing, President Obama has not commented publicly on the report, and not entirely because he’s too busy stepping over passed out Secret Service agents. You see, it was just yesterday he told an undoubtedly flabbergasted audience that the Iraq War was double plus good compared to what that nasty Putin was up to in the Ukraine, so there, and was thus ducking a global hail of rotten vegetables already.
Of course, the likelihood that such a scathing statement will have any effect is nil, but I applaud the committee for releasing it anyway; Dick Cheney and George Bush have pretty much forsworn foreign travel since leaving office, and at the rate he’s going, Obama will likely end up in the same boat.
Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.
Photo by August Kelm, used under creative commons license