Hillary Clinton Plays Pretend

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a speech to the Global Counterterrorism Forum in Turkey last week and made some strong statements against violating civil liberties in the name of fighting terrorism. She said:

Last year as a group, we pledged more than $90 million to provide rule of law training for police, prosecutors, judges, and prison officials in countries seeking to turn their backs on more repressive approaches to counterterrorism. I am pleased that today this forum will adopt two sets of sound practices – one for the criminal justice sector, the other on rehabilitation and reintegration of violent extremist offenders in prison. These will advance our work, and I am proud to announce the United States is contributing $15 million to support training initiatives in these areas, and to launch new partnerships with the UN and others to make sure our assistance gets to those officials on the front lines who need it most.

And I am here today also to underscore that the United States will work with all of you to combat terrorists within the framework of the rule of law. Now some believe that when it comes to counterterrorism, the end always justifies the means; that torture, abuse, the suspension of civil liberties – no measure is too extreme in the name of keeping our citizens safe.

But unfortunately, this view is short-sighted and wrong. When nations violate human rights and undermine the rule of law, even in the pursuit of terrorists, it feeds radicalization, gives propaganda tools to the extremists, and ultimately undermines our efforts. The international community cannot turn our eyes away from the effects of these tactics because they are part of the problem.

I know that the United States has not always had a perfect record, and we can and must do a better job of addressing the mistaken belief that these tactics are ever permissible. That is why President Obama has made our standards very clear.

Really? He’s done everything he could to prevent the application of the rule of law in this country. He has done everything he could to undermine the rule of law, from refusing to apply the Convention Against Torture and statutory law to Bush administration officials to the use of the State Secrets Privilege to deny any access to the rule of law for victims of state policy to the expansion of the NSA’s data mining program. Saying the right thing doesn’t mean much when you continue to do the wrong thing.

And it would be nice to see the federal government spend as much to combat abuses of the rule of law by police, prosecutors and judges in the United States as they’re spending abroad. Our criminal justice system is a civil liberties disaster on nearly every level.

10 comments on this post.
  1. Gregory in Seattle:

    This is the difference between the two major parties in the United States:

    A Republican speaking about a Republican administration would admit that we routinely violated basic civil rights and was working to reshape the Constitution to allow for such violations “for the good of national security and to keep all Americans, everywhere, safe from the threat of terrorism.”

    A Democrat speaking about a Democratic administration lies.

  2. Reginald Selkirk:

    Sure, Gregory. We were never lied to by Republicans during the Bush administration. And I am so glad we took care of those weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

  3. kmg50:

    We don’t have a “criminal justice” system. We have a corporate prison system, a corporate war system, and a corporate security state.

  4. dingojack:

    Dear Hlllary – As a outsider observing and studying the recorded, actual behaviour of the American Government over the last half century I, along with any other impartial viewer, can have only one comment on your finely expressed sentiments:
    DROP AND ROLL HILL, YOUR POLYESTER SLACKS ARE WELL AND TRUELY ALIGHT!!!!
    Dingo

  5. rork:

    Maybe it’s what she would wish for, rather than what is.
    Maybe I’m giving her more credit than I should.

  6. Eric R:

    Lying politicians lie, film at eleven.

  7. eric:

    Reginald – don’t forget Reagan’s principled and open defense of selling arms to terrorists as part of the negotiation to release U.S. prisoners in Iran. Or Nixon’s radio address to the U.S. public, justifying the need to wiretap democratic offices before he did it.

    Oh, wait, those things never happened?

  8. stuartvo:

    I read Gregory as saying “Democrats are lying assholes, whereas Republicans are honest about being assholes.”

    Hardly an endorsement of the Republicans.

  9. Marcus Ranum:

    Secretary of State = Chief Hypocrite

  10. Marcus Ranum:

    The difference between republicans and democrats is that democrats are lying bastards whereas with the republicans it’s the other way around.

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