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Disclaimer: The author of this site maintained the campaign weblog of John Kline's opponent in the 2006 election, which made Congressman Kline a bit testy.

As with all blogs, review the facts carefully and draw your own conclusions.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Kline and the International Criminal Court: The U.S. is Above the Law

The final bit of Kline's Congressional Record from June 2005 which merits scrutiny is an amendment he offered to a bill called the United Nations Reform Act of 2005, offered by Henry Hyde of Illinois. The name and author should tell you all you need to know about the bill, but Hyde somehow neglected to include a traditional right-wing favorite: exempting the United States from the authority of the International Criminal Court.

Kline immediately stepped in to fill the gap with an amendment, which he supported as follows:

I want to be very clear that I am in strong support of this legislation that has come forward by the Committee on International Relations, but there are things that raise my interest and my concern.

A few weeks ago media outlets throughout the world proudly parroted Amnesty International's unfounded charges of torture and ill treatment in the so-called America "gulags." Instead of condemning the government-inflicted famine in Kim Jong-Il's North Korea or continued human rights abuses in Castro's Cuba, the executive director of Amnesty International USA revealed the true goal of organizations such as his when he called on foreign governments to arrest and prosecute U.S. Government officials and military personnel. We want to make sure that we have got language in here that would prevent that.

The Belgian experience, for example, and recent propaganda espoused by Amnesty International shows that we were wise to doubt the merchants who were peddling "universal jurisdiction" at the cost of national sovereignty. Indeed, even President Clinton did not send the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court to the U.S. Senate because of its fundamental flaws.

The United States is a Nation dedicated to justice and the rule of law, and we cannot allow these fundamental protections to be stripped from our servicemen and women performing peacekeeping missions, and I think we in this body need to be ever vigilant to ensure that that does not happen.

Let's get the easy stuff out of the way. Amnesty International has reported at length about human rights abuses in both North Korea and Cuba, which refutes Kline's allegation the Amnesty report is just anti-U.S. propaganda. Moreover, Amnesty's allegations are hardly "ill-founded"; Guantanamo Bay alone is an horrendous example of official U.S. abuse of detainees, which is all the more egregious since many of the prisoners at Guantanamo are known to be innocent.

The so-called "War on Terror" has also seen the U.S. engage in extraordinary rendition and the creation of black sites. And of course, there's Abu Ghraib.

Amnesty may have overreached in using the word "gulag", and for that reason Kline and other administration apologists have succeeded in distracting the country with a tirade on semantics. If Amnesty places disproportionate emphasis on the sins of the United States, it is only because the U.S. has traditionally held itself to a much higher standard than other nations. But in 5 short years, we have become a country which imprisons hundreds, perhaps thousands of people indefinitely with little or no evidence of wrongdoing and without legal counsel, periodically subjecting them to inhuman treatment such as sleep deprivation, humiliation, physical abuse and worse. And leaders like John Kline not only refuse to put an end to it, they have the gall to stand on the floor of Congress and insist that it isn't happening, even as they proudly proclaim that America is still "a Nation dedicated to justice and the rule of law".

When I learned the Pledge of Allegiance as a child, I was taught that "liberty and justice for all" actually means something. Apparently what it means to Kline is "we aren't yet as bad as the gulags".


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