Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Protector of Human Rights?

Lion and the Lamb: U.S. no longer a protector of human rights

October 19, 2010 - The idea that individual human beings have rights, claims upon their society or government, and that these rights are universal, has been evolving since the time of Hammurabi's Code 4,000 years ago. In 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights sought to clarify this idea for our own time.

The subject of human rights, however, is still a controversial one, and our nation's reputation as a "human rights defender" has come under threat. At the heart of this controversy is the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" program which under President Bush sent terrorism suspects abroad to be tortured. Recently this became the subject of a lawsuit.

On Sept. 8, 2010, Judge Raymond Fisher issued a ruling from a divided Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld the Obama administration's argument that the rendition program constitutes a state secret and its legality cannot be decided by courts.

Ben Wizner, a staff attorney with the ACLU's National Security Project, argued the case against Boeing subsidiary DataPlan, Inc., before the Appeals Court. He reminded the Court that the United States is "required," as a signatory to the Convention Against Torture, to provide a remedy for people who are torture victims. This use of the state secrets privilege violates our treaty obligations, violates international law." {read rest}

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