Friday, May 25, 2012

China criticizes U.S. human rights

Personally, I think constructive criticism of America's human rights record should be welcomed. In the case of the Human Rights Record of the United States in 2011, China backs up their criticisms with plenty of references. Here's a sampling from Section 2, "On Civil and Political Rights":
The U.S. imposes fairly strict restriction on the Internet, and its approach "remains full of problems and contradictions." (The website of the Foreign Policy magazine, February 17, 2011) ...

The U.S. Patriot Act and Homeland Security Act both have clauses about monitoring the Internet, giving the government or law enforcement organizations power to monitor and block any Internet content "harmful to national security." Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010 stipulates that the federal government has "absolute power" to shut down the Internet under a declared national emergency. According to a report by British newspaper the Guardian dated March 17, 2011, the U.S. military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites by using fake online personas, and will allow the U.S. military to create a false consensus in online conversations, crowd out unwelcome opinions and smother commentaries or reports that do not correspond with its own objectives. The project aims to control and restrict free speech on the Internet (The Guardian, March 17, 2011). According to a commentary by the Voice of Russia on February 2, 2012, a subsidiary under the U.S. government' s security agency employed several hundred analysts, who were tasked with monitoring private archives of foreign Internet users in a secret way, and were able to censor as many as five million microblogging posts. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security routinely searched key words like "illegal immigrants," "virus," "death," and "burst out" on Twitter with fake accounts and then secretly traced the Internet users who forwarded related content. According to a report by the Globe and Mail on January 30, 2012, Leigh Van Bryan, a British, prior to his flight to the U.S., wrote in a Twitter post, "Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America?" As a result, Bryan along with a friend were handcuffed and put in lockdown with suspected drug smugglers for 12 hours by armed guards after landing in Los Angeles International Airport, just like "terrorists" . Among many angered by the incident in Britain, an Internet user posted a comment, "What' s worse, being arrested for an innocent tweet, or the fact that the American Secret Service monitors every electronic message in the world?" (The Daily Mail, January 31, 2012) ...
Note that although the report misses this nuance, Leigh Van Bryan, a tourist, used the word "destroy" as British slang for "party", but U.S. officials interpreted the word literally. He was jailed and deported because of this literal interpretation. The creepy thing about this incident is that it suggests the N.S.A. is reading everyone's tweets.
The U.S. continued to violate the freedom of its citizens in the name of boosting security levels (The Washington Post, January 14, 2012). The Electronic Frontier Foundation in 2011 released a report, "Patterns of Misconduct: FBI intelligence violations from 2001-2008," which reveals that domestic political intelligence apparatus spearheaded by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, continues to systematically violate the rights of American citizens and legal residents. The report shows that the actual number of violations that may have occurred from 2001 to 2008 could approach 40,000 possible violations of law, Executive Order, or other regulations governing intelligence investigations. The FBI issued some 200,000 requests and that almost 60 percent were for investigations of U.S. citizens and legal residents ( The New York Times reported on October 20, 2011, that the FBI has collected information about religious, ethnic and national-origin characteristics of American communities (The New York Times, October 20, 2011). According to a Washington Post commentary dated January 14, 2012, the U.S. government can use "national security letters" to demand, without probable cause, that organizations turn over information on citizens' finances, communications and associations, and order searches of everything from business documents to library records. The U.S. government can use GPS devices to monitor every move of targeted citizens without securing any court order or review (The Washington Post, January 14, 2012). ...

The U.S. lacks basic due lawsuit process protections, and its government continues to claim the right to strip citizens of legal protections based on its sole discretion (The Washington Post, January 14, 2012). The National Defense Authorization Act, signed December 31, 2011, allows for the indefinite detention of citizens (The Washington Post, January 14, 2012). The Act will place domestic terror investigations and interrogations into the hands of the military and which would open the door for trial-free, indefinite detention of anyone, including American citizens, so long as the government calls them terrorists (, December 5, 2011).

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