September 25, 2007
George W. Bush – who asserts his unlimited personal authority to kill, kidnap, torture and spy on anyone of his choosing anywhere in the world – opened his annual speech to the United Nations by hailing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The U.S. President pushed the envelope of the world’s credulity even further by citing the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of 1948 as justification for his "war on terror" and his draconian policies for eliminating "terrorists" or other threats to world order with little or no due process.
"Achieving the promise of the Declaration requires confronting long-term threats; it also requires answering the immediate needs of today," including destruction of terrorist networks and "bringing to justice their operatives," Bush said in his Sept. 25 address to the United Nations.
However, Bush’s vision of his near-divine right to smite whomever he judges to be a dangerous enemy flies in the face of the actual Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Indeed, Bush must assume that no one in the American press will bother to even check what those rights entail.
If U.S. journalists did pull up a copy of the Declaration, they would find that among its 30 proclaimed rights are these:
--"Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person."
--"No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."
--"Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law."
--"No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile."
--"Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him."
-- "Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defense."
--"No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks."
--"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."
--"Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein."
Though Bush and his "war on terror" arguably have violated many if not all these rights, he still cites the Declaration as the foundation for his international policies – and remains confident that the U.S. press corps won’t challenge him.
Bush has never backed away from his assertion that he can designate anyone he wants an "enemy combatant" and have that person either executed on sight or locked up without charges indefinitely. Nor has he recanted on his claimed authority to subject detainees to harsh interrogation that much of the world regards as torture.
The evidence is now overwhelming that some detainees in CIA custody were subjected to simulated drowning known as "waterboarding" while others were stripped naked, beaten, soaked with cold water in frigid rooms, kept blindfolded for long periods, put into painful "stress positions" or subjected to sleep deprivation.
Under Bush’s orders, the CIA also has kidnapped suspected Islamists who were shipped via "extraordinary renditions" to countries that practice torture, including confining detainees in coffin-like boxes.
Contradicting the classic definition of inalienable rights – that is, the inherent right of everyone to possess certain fundamental protections under the law – Bush has flipped the concept, asserting his unilateral right to do whatever he wants to people he judges to be threats to "innocent" Americans or U.S. allies.
"When innocent people are trapped in a life of murder and fear, the Declaration is not being upheld," Bush said.
Bush thus presents himself as the great protector of the innocents, meting out rough justice to evil-doers even if that means forgetting about due process and killing a lot of innocent bystanders along the way.
For instance, the President appears oblivious to the fact that his unprovoked invasion of Iraq in 2003 touched off violence that has claimed the lives of almost 4,000 American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, with some estimates exceeding one million.
In Bush’s view, he is always in right and his adversaries are either evil or woefully blind to the reality he sees. Bush looks at the world through his own powerful prism that turns everything upside down.
He is Bush the Beneficent, the all-wise defender of "universal rights," a man of peace and justice. He expects others to see things just as he does.
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' are also available there. Or go to Amazon.com.