Thursday, June 2

Amnesty's William Schultz on Hardball

Chris Matthews interview Amnesty International President William Schultz on Hardball last night was a sad sight to see. He and his expected right-wing no name counter-spin guest (Frank Gaffney), treated Amnesty's recent report as if it were just a set of scurilous rumours, without any evidence to backup their doubting-Thomas claims what-so-ever.

Mr Schultz on the other hand presented multiple sources, the detainees who've been released (which logic indicates are NOT al-Qaeda, or else why are they being released?), as well as information for the FBI and Department of Defense which the ACLU has aquired via the Freedom of Information Act and posted for all to see, and are the key sources for their suit against Donald Rumsfeld and others -- yet, Matthews and his neo-conartist guest-du-jour sat there with a straight face and asked Schultz "Where are you getting your information"! How can it be that he didn't even bother to even skim the AI Report on the US before having Schultz on as a guest?

The amount of facts and documentation - not coming from "Former Al-Qaeda Fighters" but from respectable members of the FBI and Military is overwhelming - not simply a "rumor being blown out of proportion just to harm the United States".

Amnesty International Report on the U.S.

We can do far better than this - we must do better than this.

Full Transcript of Show.

Vyan

1 comment:

Vyan said...

From Hardball.msnbc.com (Emphasis mine)

MATTHEWS: Amnesty International responded to the president with a statement of its own that reads in part: “What is ‘absurd‘ is President Bush‘s attempt to deny the policies of his administration, which has detained individuals without charge or trial in prisons at Guantanamo Bay and the completed reports into human rights violations in these prisons remain classified and unseen.”

Joining me is the author of that statement, William Schulz, the executive director of Amnesty International USA. Also with me is Frank Gaffney from the Center For Security Policy.

Mr. Schulz, thank you for joining us.

What are your main charges, the International—Amnesty International‘s main charges against the way we‘re treating prisoners in Guantanamo?

WILLIAM SCHULZ, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL USA: Well, Amnesty is concerned that the prisoners at Guantanamo have not been provided an opportunity to plead their case before what the Geneva Conventions require, a competent tribunal, at which they are given an opportunity to know what the charges are against them and to defend themselves.

We know that prisoners at Guantanamo and elsewhere in U.S. detention have been mistreated. And I will say this. You know, the administration never thinks Amnesty International is absurd when we criticize Cuba, China, North Korea, as we do regularly. Indeed, the administration, Mr. Rumsfeld, Mr. Bush, didn‘t think Amnesty International was absurd when it cited our reports constantly on Saddam Hussein in the months to the run-up of the Iraq war.

Amnesty International is an equal-opportunity offender. And we criticize everybody. Our report here has 149 countries, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, all held to the same standard.

MATTHEWS: Were Koran—was the Koran desecrated at Guantanamo, Mr.

Schulz?

SCHULZ: I don‘t know about the recent reports in “Newsweek.” We don‘t have reports on that.

MATTHEWS: No, I‘m sorry. This is listed as one of your charges.

SCHULZ: But, yes, Amnesty International has indeed received reports in the past of the Koran being treated without respect at Guantanamo.

MATTHEWS: Do you believe the charges?

SCHULZ: Well, I can say that Amnesty looks for patterns. We never rely upon just one or two people. We look for patterns of reports, not just from those who are former prisoners, but also from their families and, in this case, from others who have investigated this.

The U.S. government itself has now acknowledged that there were some mistreatment of the Koran.

MATTHEWS: And you also charge the United States with beating our detainees at Guantanamo until they‘re unconscious.

SCHULZ: Well, look, this is, again, not just Amnesty International. There have been reports from FBI agents who raise serious concerns about this, from military officials themselves who raise serious concerns about this. It is not just Amnesty International.

We know that the International Red Cross intervened here. We also know that, after Rumsfeld issued 27 rules of interrogation, he had to, upon the advice of military lawyers, rescind four of them. I think something is going on there. And because Amnesty has been denied access to that, because all human rights organizations have been denied access to Guantanamo, we can‘t say from firsthand experience. But we would love to. And we would welcome an opportunity to do that.

MATTHEWS: Frank, what firsthand experience do you have, or what information do you have about our treatment of prisoners down there that might challenge these—these charges?

FRANK GAFFNEY, FOUNDER & PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR SECURITY POLICY: What I think makes these charges absurd is that they are so wildly over the top.

You mentioned one yourself, the suggestion that Guantanamo Bay is a gulag for our times. This is absolutely preposterous, historically, especially when the scale of the criminal activity that is being alleged here, even if it were true—and I disagree strongly that it is true—but even if it were true, begins to compare with what we understand in terms of the totalitarian systems‘ systematic use of massive prison operations to repress an entire population.

When Amnesty International properly decries such misbehavior in totalitarian systems, I think all the world can applaud it. When they inaccurately and improperly and ahistorically chastise the United States, I think it is fair to say, it is over the top. It is indeed absurd. But it has to be good for business. Let‘s face it. If you‘re an NGO that is cashing in on publicity, what could be better than to have the president, the vice president, the secretary of defense, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff all denounce your work. I think...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, wait a minute here. You‘re getting into motive. Are you saying, Frank, now that Amnesty International is a joke?

GAFFNEY: I didn‘t say it is a joke. I said they are taking advantage...

MATTHEWS: Well, you said they‘re dishonest. You said they‘re making up charges.

GAFFNEY: Look, I think—I think if—if—if one can be a little cynical here, Chris—I know it is not something you‘re accustomed to. But could it possibly be the case that people who profess to be serious about evaluating the behavior of governments all over the world could use wildly exaggerated and inaccurate, historically, and I think topically, information, data and charges and knowing that they will get a very strong response...

(CROSSTALK)

GAFFNEY: They‘re getting, I think, a free ride out of this, a huge publicity boost and probably...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Mr. Schulz, I‘m surprised at that, because I‘ve always heard that the Amnesty International organization was respected from left and right.

SCHULZ: Indeed.

MATTHEWS: People like William F. Buckley have respected it over the years. It is not some lefty organization.

SCHULZ: It is not.

And, Chris, let me make two points about this gulag comment. First of all, Amnesty is a truly global organization. The comment came out of Amnesty London. It was made by the secretary general, who is a Bangladeshi national. And whether we like it or not, whether we Americans like it or not, this is how the U.S. detention system is perceived in much of the world.

Now, secondly, let me make this point. Of course there are differences in scale between the Soviet gulags, which Amnesty, of course, criticize regularly, between the Soviet gulags and the U.S. detention system. There are differences in size. People are not being starved, to best of our knowledge. They‘re not being denied medical care. They‘re not being forced into labor.

But there are also similarities. The United States has established an archipelago of detention centers, not just in Guantanamo Bay, but throughout the world, many of which are secret, in which people are disappearing. They‘re being held at...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULZ: They‘re being held at...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULZ: Let me just finish this point. They‘re being held...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I need to know one thing. And I need to know it before you go on.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: How do you know all this? How do you get information about what‘s going on in Cuba?

SCHULZ: Cuba is actually one of the countries it‘s easiest to...

MATTHEWS: No, no, in Guantanamo Bay, our installation down there in Cuba, our military installation. How do you know—what are your reports based upon?

SCHULZ: They‘re based upon a pattern that comes from a wide variety of sources.

It comes from those groups that have had access there. It comes from former prisoners who have been released and their attorneys. But it also comes from media reports, from the FBI reports, from the revelations that the ACLU has produced in its FOIA request. It comes from reports from journalists who have been there, from the International Committee of the Red Cross. It is a pattern that is created there.

MATTHEWS: Frank, your turn. I‘m sorry. Go ahead, Frank.

GAFFNEY: Yes.

I think the pattern that is being established here is that the Amnesty International is being used. I don‘t know whether it is entirely of its own design or not. But it is certainly being used for three purposes. Its reports are being used to demoralize the American people. Its reports are being used, I believe, to alienate our friends. And it is certainly being used to embolden our enemies.

This is to say, if it were true, I think that they would find ways to do it, to make their criticisms in a more judicious, a more accurate, a more faithful-to-the-facts fashion and avoid some of those dangers.

SCHULZ: Fascinating, because...

GAFFNEY: Clearly, what they are doing here—and I believe it is deliberate, because I don‘t think this is something that one would do accidentally. And you can‘t simply lay it off on to a Bangladeshi secretary-general in London.

This is being done in a way that is calculated to harm the United States. And I think, especially since I don‘t believe they‘ve got the facts right, that is really reprehensible.

SCHULZ: That is total nonsense.

And it is fascinating that Mr. Gaffney‘s response is almost word for word the sentiments that governments from China to Zimbabwe use when they are attack by Amnesty‘s reports.

GAFFNEY: There is a difference in the facts.

(CROSSTALK)

GAFFNEY: If you‘ve got it right, that‘s one thing. If you‘ve got it wrong, it‘s another thing.

MATTHEWS: William Schulz from Amnesty International USA, Frank Gaffney from the Center, thank you very much for joining us.

We‘ll be back.

GAFFNEY: Thank you, Chris.

Vyan