Thursday, December 1, 2011

Accountability Knows no Boundaries

Continuing their practice of covering stories likely to be spiked by the American mainstream media, Al Jazeera has just released a report based on the following statement released by Amnesty International:

Amnesty International recognises the value of raising awareness about cervical and breast cancer in Africa, the stated aim of the visit, but this cannot lessen the damage to the fight against torture caused by allowing someone who has admitted to authorising water-boarding to travel without facing the consequences prescribed by law.

This statement was directed at the governments of Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Zambia, because former President George W. Bush will be visiting these three countries next week as part of a personal campaign in support of efforts to fight cervical and breast cancer.  In other words the Amnesty position is that good works in the present do not compensate for bad ones in the past, particularly when those bad ones involve crimes against humanity through acts such as violation of international torture laws.

I am surprised that Henry Kissinger did not advise Bush about the risk of such travel, given his own judicious efforts to avoid similar prosecution.  There is, of course, the possibility that Bush was warned and chose to ignore the warning.  Perhaps, as was the case with the acts of torture themselves, Bush simply decided to rely on advisors who would tell him what he wanted to hear.  Alternatively, he may have decided that none of the three countries he will be visiting are likely to honor the international criminal justice system, with or without pressure from Amnesty International.

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