senator inhofe & human rights

I know this is sort of oldish news, but I wanted to comment on it anyway. Senator James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma is of the opinion that people are getting too angry over the prison abuses at Abu Ghraib. He says that since the prisoners are probably terrorists, it doesn’t really make sense to care about their treatment.

I find this hard to reconcile with the notion that the United States has gone to Iraq to liberate the Iraqis from the ‘tyranny’ of Saddam Hussein. Certainly part of this liberation would entail the destroying the apparatus of systematic human rights violations. However, Inhofe clearly does not see this as a priority. So what is America really doing there if not providing the Iraqis with basic human rights that they supposedly never had before? What have the Iraqis traded Saddam Hussein for? Another brutal power who has no compunction about violently subjugating those who it sees as its enemies?

Senator Inhofe in saying that we shouldn’t really be concerned about the treatment of Iraqi prisoners has taken the view that human rights don’t matter. According to him, human rights are a privilige that we should grant only to those who are deserving of them. This view is morally repugnant, and one that the United States (hypocritically) regularly chides other nations for holding.

It’s at least of minor consolation that the top levels of the Executive Branch are at least outwardly admitting that this is a problem, if not taking any real steps to account for it, and prevent future occurances. Right now they seem more concerned about making sure that further evidence doesn’t reach the public. Or as Jon Stewart so eloquently put it, they’re trying to find and destroy the Weapons of Mass Documentation.