The Magazine

They Still Blame America First

The curious human rights focus of the Obama administration.

Sep 20, 2010, Vol. 16, No. 01 • By JENNIFER RUBIN
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Human rights activists maintained that those arrested for ordinary crimes were as likely to suffer torture and mistreatment in detention as those arrested for political offenses such as speaking out against the government, although they were less likely to report abuse. .  .  . [A]uthorities allegedly tortured some suspects to obtain confessions, while others such as transvestites were regularly subject to abuse by police on “moral” grounds. 

A telling incident: A suspected thief was “tortured with nails and cigarettes during his interrogation and the mistreatment was verified by a medical report by the Van State Hospital. While awaiting trial, [his torturer] was promoted into the Ankara Antiterror Department.”

These are brief extracts from voluminous reports. Great time and attention are devoted to detailing the grisly facts; the extent of the problem is no secret.

The ample documentation and news reports, tragically, don’t carry much weight with the Obama administration. The administration “bears witness” and records data but takes little, if any, public action. Its priorities lie elsewhere—in defending its unpopular domestic agenda, in bullying Israel to relax the Gaza blockade and cease building in its capital, and in bolstering the prestige of the UNHRC, on which sit such human rights violators as China (“during the year there were reports that officials used electric shocks, beatings, shackles, and other forms of abuse”), Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. And the president’s primary foreign policy mission, we have learned, is to ingratiate himself not with the Muslim citizens of the Middle East—many of whom would dearly love some American-style freedom—but with Muslim despots.

Our moral standing in the world has suffered over the last 18 months (as has the president’s popularity in Muslim countries), but not nearly as much as have the victims of despotic regimes that receive lavish attention but far too little scrutiny from this president. These people are being treated like dogs—or worse—but the only pain our president feels is his own.

Jennifer Rubin is Commentary magazine’s contributing editor.


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