In the interests of free speech, commerce and open debate, NER has allowed Amnesty International to run an ad on the New England Racist blog. The ad is in flash-video form, so to save those of you with a busy schedule some time, I’ve graciously screened the ad myself and I’m running this helpful synopsis and review as a public service.
I naively thought the title referred to an in-depth investigative report, connecting dots of documents, testimony, news reports,eye-witnesses etc. connecting the USA with torture in other countries.How wrong I was. It was pretty much a Madison Avenue technique of connecting attractive American scenes and citizens to AI’s propaganda. Unfortunately for me, its presented in Flash format, so I could neither pause nor rewind it. I had to view it numerous times to get an accurate description. I deserve your scorn for doing so, but also your pity.
The video begins:
Beneath the strains of “America the Beautiful” (as opposed to that bellicose anthem to war, “The Star-Spangled Banner”) we are treated to scenes of everyday, average Americans doing everyday, average American activities- sitting on tractors, hiking in National Parks, completing their 5000th day of work without a sick day (seriously) and school kids visiting the Capitol building.
While all this wholesomeness is going on, the nefarious terrorist G.W. Bush is signing an executive order allowing CIA agents to kidnap(render) and interrogate suspected terrorists and turn them over toallied governments. AI expresses concern over “evidence” (none is actually cited, a recurring theme as we shall see) that some terrorists are being tortured.
Then they name names: one Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen, is detained at JFK and deported to Syria via Jordan. Meanwhile, a sneering, chimplike Bush hypocritically speechifies that no one is being tortured no where, no way, no how. Arar claims to have endured 10 months of torture, is released without being charged, then a smiling Arar is shown hugging his kids. He looks pretty chipper, it would have been more effective to have him at least pouting or looking happy but in residual pain.
Back to the criminal Bush, waving his arms raving “torture is never acceptable”.
All the while, these ‘dots’ are being connected to form an amorphous shape- what can it be? I have to wait until the denouement to find out.
2005- Reports emerge that the US has sent detainees to countries such as (an awkward construction, that- countries such as? Were they sent to these countries or countries such as these? I dunno- back to the video) Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Morocco, all of whom the State Dept.(another government agency, how can we trust them?) says have documented cases of torture and ill-treatment (again, no citations darnit, hard to fisk these guys). Just like there are documented cases of shark attacks in Australia, so anyone sent there is presumably attacked by sharks, by AI’s reasoning.
Next, harrowing images with captions: tied hands- Egypt 2004; hands on bars-Syria 2005; more hands on bars-Jordon 2005. Truly shocking revelations.
Finally, all the dots are connected- the image focuses, to reveal -GOD GOOD, IT’S THE AMERICAN FLAG!!! Yes, the American flag is responsible for all these tied hands and hands on bars.
So, how can you help, I’m sure you’re asking yourself. Well, by sending a form letter to various government officials, which is a tried and true method of enacting change and realistically impacting our political process. AI has provided a short boilerplate for your copy/paste convenience that basically says: torture bad – make bad man bush stop letting other countries torture people.
I could do some deep research and debate the various claims AI makes here, plus dump on their misguided crusade against the U.S., which even they don’t claim is actually DOING the torturing, and instead go after the real bad guys, but hey, that could be dangerous for those latte-sipping Birkenstock-wearing hippies. Much safer here in the U.S. making flash ads and importuning people to send emails (and contributions to AI, by the by, so they can continue good works like these).
But lets just take the ad at face value (plus it saves me a lot of googling- hell if these guys refuse to do any documentation I canhardly be expected to rebut them with it).
I guess their point is while Americans are sitting on their lard asses on tractors and such, people are being tortured at American behest. Well for one thing, they don’t offer much in the way of documentation, news reports, citation, eye-witness accounts or even hear-say, other than this Maher Arar guy. Other than that we have to take their word on faith, I guess, and hope they don’t slant the facts in any way (snark sound).
A quick Googling of Mr. Arar found a lot of sympathy sites for the guy, but also an interesting array of facts on Wikipedia,hardly a conservative propaganda organ. Seems Arar was detained because of his association with a known terrorist and Al-Qaeda member, information helpfully provided by the RCMP (they later becamepolitically embarrassed by this cooperation and raised holy heck withthe US ambassador, Paul Cellucci, not be confused with Monica Bellucci,who is a babe). Arar lied about the character of his association with the guy, and was subsequently deported from the U.S. to Jordan. Jordan sent him to Syria for reasons unclear, however;
On June 14, 2005, Franco Pillarella, Canadian ambassador to Syria at the time of Arar’s deportation, said that at the time he had no reason to believe Arar had been badly treated, and in general had no reason to conclusively believe that Syria engaged in routine torture.
The article continues, with Arar suing everyone he could think of, and getting every case dismissed. At best, this is a disputed episode,and apparently the best AI could do for their showcase spotlight clutch cargo classic victim.
I didn’t hear a peep out of AI when Janet Reno deported poor little Elian Gonzalesto Cuba, with actual documented and eye-witness accounts of torture, summary executions, indiscriminate jailings and the like. But further, what guarantees does AI expect the U.S. to get from governments with which we have deportation of criminal alien agreements? How would these be enforced? Are we supposed to refuse to extradite criminals at all, lest they be tortured? AI doesn’t specifically claim the U.S. is deporting people for the express purpose of being tortured, but they imply it.
Basically, it just seems there are more worthy cause of torture and cruelty these guys ought to be pursuing, like fer instance how about the Al-Qaeda guys who actually video-tape their torture and murder sessions and post them on the internet, or Saddam-type butchers who feed people into wood choppers or gas citizens. I guess its safer and easier to type away (much like I am now) at a computer keyboard safe in the good ol’ U.S. of A and rail against Chimpy Bushalliburton and devise inane flash presentations that impart zero facts and a lot ofdrivel (pretty schweet gig, that flash animation deal, I dabble in flash myself and I think I could come up with a much more effective andemotionally connecting version with plenty of actual torture scenes and blood- AI can contact me at my email listed at the bottom of this fine article).
I have to give this flash movie 1 star on my sliding scale of 1-1 bajillion stars for hilarity, game-play and educational value. For a more entertaining and edifying flash experience I suggest Jib-jab