Friday, December 09, 2005

You know how the Bushies like to pooh-pooh those silly privacy concerns about the Patriot Act? Like, "Why would you mind if the FBI looks at your library records, if you've got nothing to hide?"

Well, Media Girl turns that argument back on the Bushies, in her post about the administration's recent admission that Red Cross workers have not been permitted to visit and speak with detainees at many U.S.-run detention and interrogation facilities.

For an Administration that, in justifying the Patriot Act's invasions of the privacy of American citizens, says, in effect, "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about," their hiding of prisoners from all international contact smacks of great hypocrisy -- which probably tells them that they're on the right track.

Mr Bellinger said some of the allegations of secret prisons were "so overblown as to be ludicrous."

The ICRC wants access to all foreign terror suspects held by the US "in undisclosed locations."

"The dialogue continues on the question. We would like to obtain information and access to them," ICRC spokesman Florian Westphal said on Thursday.

Human rights groups say there is no way of knowing whether detainees being held in secret are being tortured.

On her visit to Europe, Condoleezza Rice has repeatedly denied that the US tortures prisoners.

Then why refuse the Red Cross access? What does the Bush Administration have to hide?

Juan Cole calls Donald Rumsfeld on his bogus argument that there are more murders and traffic fatalities in the United States than there are deaths from terrorist attacks in Iraq.

Rumsfeld complained at SAIS a week ago that there are 14,500 murders a year in the United States and 42,000 driving fatalities, and the US press isn't covering that, whereas, he implies, 43 people getting blown up on a bus in Baghdad is front page news.

Rumsfeld is committing a logical fallacy here. He is comparing apples and oranges. Does Rumsfeld think that there is not also a murder rate in Iraq beyond the guerrilla violence? The likelihood from the information that has leaked out from the Baghdad morgue is that Iraq is among the more murderous societies in the world at the moment. (As you would expect, since where there is no law and order, criminal elements act with impunity. Worse, there are regular political assassinations by religiious militias.) These Iraq murders are not usually reported in the press, any more than the murders in the US are. Likewise, one can only imagine the traffic death rate in Iraq. The country has imported more than 100,000 used cars since the fall of the old regime, and there aren't exactly a lot of vigilant traffic police.

So the fact is, Mr. Rumsfeld, that the per capita rates for murder and traffic deaths in Iraq may well be similar to those in the United States. The deaths in the guerrilla war are extra.

The essential fallacy here is comparing political violence, which aims at altering the government, to individual acts of criminality. ...
Human beings are hardwired to be far more interested in attempts to change leadership in society than in individual random crime. Who rules Iraq affects everyone in the world. That the US has a remarkably high annual murder rate is of moment mainly to the victims and to the neighborhoods affected. By the way, the US murder rate is per capita 4 times that of Britain, and the likely explanation for the difference is the easy availability of non-sporting firearms, including especially pistols. Since Rumsfeld wants more coverage of the 14,500 murders a year in the US, would he welcome practical steps to make it more like 3,500? The British are not intrinsically nobler than the Americans-- our highly violent society is a result of specific structural features of our society.

Via Daou Report.

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