Saturday, June 18, 2005

If Amnesty International Was Right...

I've been a relentless info-maniac ever since the September 11 attacks in 2001. In my search for information on various topics, from the alleged U.S.complicity in a massacre of POWs in Afghanistan... I'm sorry, what's that you're asking? How could we be accused of such things before President Bush, in the words of Senator John Kerry, "squandered the goodwill of the world" by invading Iraq? The film was a so-called documentary named Massacre at Mazar and was shown to adoring audiences in Europe. This and a host of other similar stories wasn't picked up by the corporate media in the States because at the time, unlike folks in Europe and the Middle East, a significant majority of Americans supported the war in Afghanistan. Do you see how what WE believe shapes the news that is televised rather than the other way around? But I digress...

Suffice to say, the old Soviet global propaganda machine was weakened by the collapse of the Soviet Union, but neither it nor Communism is close to being dead. Now, where was I? Oh yes, if Amnesty International was anwhere close to being correct in their analogy of a U.S. operated Gulag Archipelago, then they would all be in one right now! You all know about Amnesty International's Irene Khan comparing the Prison Camp at Guantanamo Bay to the Soviet Gulag. You all heard Amnesty International's William Schultz try and back away from that analogy by characterizing U.S. military detention facilities around the world as an "archipelago of prisons". Your Indigent Blogger has cleverly combined the two words into Gulag Archipelago, which is the name of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's book detailing his own incarceration, and that of others with him, in the real Soviet Gulag.

Today, Pavel Litvinov is afforded page A19 by the Washington Post Company to relate his experience with Amnesty International's desperate attempt to justify and back their claims about the camp at Guantanamo Bay.

Several days ago I received a telephone call from an old friend who is a longtime Amnesty International staffer. He asked me whether I, as a former Soviet "prisoner of conscience" adopted by Amnesty, would support the statement by Amnesty's executive director, Irene Khan, that the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba is the "gulag of our time."

Litvinov continues in his article, No American 'Gulag', to describe why he sees a significant literal and philisophical differences between American military detention facilities and the Soviet's global system of labor camps.

The word "gulag" was a bureaucratic acronym for the main prison administration in Stalin's Soviet Union. After publication of Alexander Solzhenitsyn's "The Gulag Archipelago," it became a symbol for the system of forced-labor camps that have been an integral feature of communist countries. Millions of prisoners confined in the gulag had not been involved in violence or committed any crime -- they were there because they belonged to a "wrong" social, national or political group or expressed a "wrong" opinion.

The cruelty and scale of the gulag system are described in numerous books, so there is no need to recount them here. By any standard, Guantanamo and similar American-run prisons elsewhere do not resemble, in their conditions of detention or their scale, the concentration camp system that was at the core of a totalitarian communist system.

Where I disagree with Pavel Litvinov is the part of the article he devotes to heaping praise and gravitas upon Amnesty International. As I was starting to say at the beginning of this post, you won't find me linking to any Amnesty International reports or using them as a source of facts because, simply stated, they're not. In my quest for knowledge since 2001, Amnesty International habitually relies upon hysterical "accounts" and flimsy "studies" to bring attention to issues that may otherwise be worthy of concern. I'll close by reiterating that if Irene Khan and William Schultz were correct about U.S. military detention facilities being the Gulag Archipelago of our time, they'd both be in one right now, breaking rocks at an undisclosed location.


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