Now, I'll be the first to say that I have some reservations about the Patriot Act. I'm not all Let's-Organize-the-Activists-and-Get-Some-People-Puppets-for-a-Demonstration upset about the PA, but do see the potential for abuse. I give the Bush administration credit for using it carefully and in ways that are not abusive. However, I have no doubts what-so-ever that the PA in the hands of the (or another) Clinton adminstration would yield results that most of us would not like.
But back to Amnesty International. They've done a great job of devolving themselves of any credibility they might had. Last week Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday had William Schulz, the executive director of Amnesty International, USA. I could fisk this transcript inside-out, but here are just a few points.
- Schulz initially says that AI has backed away from the use of "gulag" to describe Gitmo, then goes right back at defending the word. He claims that detainees there are held in "indefinite incommunicado detention without access to lawyers or a judicial system or to their families." However, later he acknowledges that the International Red Cross has been allowed access to these detainees--which is all that is required if they are held under the Geneva Conventions (something they're not entitled to, and we are being quite generous in providing, IMO). In short, access to lawyers, a judicial system, or their families are never accorded to prisoners of war.
- Wallace shows Schulz has a twisted definition of torture. He is unable to produce evidence of systematic torture, and when questioned on the small numbers of documented problems, he then questions the source of the data. When obvious evidence of his pre-concieved notions of what is happening there can't be found, in essence, he says: "Of course, they'd hide the evidence."
- Schulz stands by the ridiculous comparison of Rumsfeld and Gonzales to Pinochet, and that they ought to stand trial for human rights abuses.
- He ends by essentially saying that AI has benefitted from the controversy it has generated because he's there on FNS. Any publicity is good publicity.
So, this is the same Amnesty International that will lecture the Congress on the Patriot Act.
Maybe it's just me, but serious opponents of the Patriot Act ought to cut their losses here and find another mouthpiece.