News Release

Bush and Freedom

REED BRODY
Brody is special counsel with Human Rights Watch and author of the article “Prisoner Abuse: What About the Other Secret U.S. Prisons?” and the report “The Road to Abu Ghraib.” He said today: “It is one thing to say you are on the side of freedom, it’s quite another to be a leader in promoting the rights that protect that freedom. If the Bush administration refuses to practice what it preaches, its ability to promote rights and freedom will inevitably be compromised. The United States is doing what every dictatorship and banana republic does when its abuses are discovered: covering up and shifting blame downwards.”
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ELAINE C. HAGOPIAN
Editor of the book Civil Rights in Peril: The Targeting of Arabs and Muslims, Hagopian is professor emerita of sociology at Simmons College, Boston. She said today: “Bush’s inaugural address stressed liberty and democracy. He points with ‘pride’ at the upcoming elections in Iraq. It takes a great stretch of imagination to conceive of the Iraqi elections as free and democratic when the candidates’ names are not listed, but only their parties. How can free elections take place under a U.S.-led coalition occupation that has decimated Iraqi society and infrastructure? …. It is not liberty or democracy for which the president has committed our military; it is, in Michael Klare’s words, an ‘oil resource war’ for our own needs and to deny access to energy-hungry nations such as China.”
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MICHAEL RATNER
President of the Center for Constitutional Rights and co-author of the book Guantanamo: What the World Should Know, Ratner said today: “In the 1500’s the Spanish covered their imperial ambitions by saying their conquests were in the name of spreading Christianity to the heathen and uncivilized. Bush calls it spreading freedom to those living under tyranny. But it is all the same. Spreading freedom is the code word to hide the continued drive for American hegemony, riches and resources. How does Bush explain the U.S. role in trying to overthrow the democratically elected president of Venezuela? Was that spreading freedom?”
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AS’AD ABUKHALIL
AbuKhalil is author of The Battle for Saudi Arabia: Royalty, Fundamentalism, and Global Power and professor in the Department of Politics at California State University, Stanislaus. He said today: “The words ‘freedom’ and ‘liberty’ carry no meaning when uttered by George W. Bush. There should be a moratorium on the words ‘jihad’ in the Middle East, and the word ‘liberty’ in the U.S., as they have become the fodder of cheap propaganda. And how can liberty resonate in Iraq, when the people do not feel free, and when the ostensible model of ‘liberty’ (Iraq) is now a model of carnage, mayhem, and brutality brought by a reckless U.S. war. The Iraqi people know that they were not free under Saddam, and that they are not free under Bush’s brutal order. It was also astonishing the extent to which Bush’s rhetoric was shrouded in the religious language of televangelists, and that will not go well in the Middle East and Muslim regions. George W. Bush has also to reconcile between his reduction in civil liberties here at home, while sounding vapid speeches about freedom to the world. More importantly, the world cannot judge Bush’s rhetoric in a vacuum: it has to be situated in the context of his last four years, where instead of spreading freedom, his administration launched reckless and illegal wars that victimized innocent people, while he has continued the historical American embrace of dictatorship worldwide, provided they submit to U.S. economic and political wills. The Libyan example is clear to the people of the Middle East: tyrants can go on oppressing their populations, provided that they follow U.S. commands in foreign and security policies.”
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STEPHEN ZUNES
Zunes is a professor of politics and chair of the Peace and Justice Studies Program at the University of San Francisco, and Mideast editor of Foreign Policy in Focus. He said today: “Despite impressive rhetoric in support of democracy in the Middle East, the United States has long been the number one military, diplomatic, and economic backer of repressive regimes in that part of the world, a pattern that has only been strengthened under the Bush administration. It is important to remember that the 9/11 hijackers did not come from Iran, Syria, Libya, Palestine, Saddam’s Iraq or Taliban Afghanistan — the autocratic countries most cited by the Bush administration as needing reform — but from U.S.-backed dictatorships like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167