Reactions to the torture report

Should we be surprised that countries who have been subjected to endless moralizing by the US about their human rights abuses have, in the wake of the senate report describing the incredibly brutal torture practices of the US, taken the chance to highlight US hypocrisy?

Here’s China:

[The US] should clean up its own backyard first and respect the rights of other countries to resolve their issues by themselves.

America is neither a suitable role model nor a qualified judge on human rights issues in other countries, as it pertains to be.

Yet, despite this, people rarely hear the US talking about its own problems, preferring to be vocal on the issues it sees in other countries, including China.

Here’s North Korea:

Why [is] the United Nations security council turning its face from the inhuman torture practiced by the CIA?

If the UNSC handles the ‘human rights issue’ in the DPRK [North Korea] while shutting its eyes to the serious human rights issue in the US, one of its permanent members, while failing to settle the pending and urgent issues directly linked with the world peace and security, it will prove itself its miserable position that it has turned into a tool for US arbitrary practices just as everybody can hear everywhere.

Here’s Konstantin Dolgov, the Russian the foreign ministry’s human rights ombudsman:

The Senate’s report proves that there was systematic use of torture in CIA prisons in violation of the international obligations of the US. Everyone has known this for a long time. But the Obama administration, having formally banned torture, hasn’t lifted a finger to punish those guilty for these egregious human rights abuses. This has created a further stain on the already stained US reputation in human rights. Let’s see what the administration’s reaction to the report is.”

The US did initially get some support such as from Marie Le Pen, the leader of the far right National Front party in France but after criticism even she backed off and condemned torture.

Even ISIS has taken the opportunity to gloat. How low have you sunk when a group like ISIS thinks it has captured the moral high ground?


  1. Anton Mates says

    To be fair, I’m pretty sure ISIS started out thinking it had the moral high ground. I don’t think its leaders are big on self-doubt.

    We’ve killed a shitload more people in the Middle East than ISIS has, though.

  2. smrnda says

    I really hope more nations can get on board with criticizing the US as I don’t think internal forces are strong enough to change anything. In fact, I’d like someone to put out warrants demanding that offending parties in the US go to stand trial at the Hague.

    I say this because 1. the powers of repression are great 2. the corruption is great and 3. too many Americans aren’t disgusted by things like CIA torture.

    Please, someone else, clean up this country.

  3. Sean (I am not an imposter) says

    It’s always interesting to see how countries that aren’t our lapdogs view our system. The “dear leader” worship is ridiculous of course, but much of this North Korean film named “Propaganda” is spot on.

  4. Ariel says

    Well, I’m not American. I’m also old enough to remember what was life like in a communist paradise. Maybe this is the reason why my perspective is different? I’m not completely sure.

    Did I understand correctly? Is it about the American senate report, criticizing the American brutality and torture? And … nothing? No one is going to imprison the authors for that, hunt them down, kill perhaps? *Really*?

    If so, then I’m going to wait till Chinese authorities release a report on Mao’s crimes. I will wait also for official materials from North Korea and Russia, describing and condemning their own communist genocide – without the authors being killed, sent to a forced labor camp, or even just losing their jobs.

    Then we can come back to the conversation about hypocrisy and high moral ground.

  5. Holms says

    Meanwhile, tame lapdog nations such as the UK and Australia are strangely absent from the critics… can’t bite the hand while licking it at the same time, I guess.

  6. lorn says

    Torture either doesn’t work, or it doesn’t work any better than other, less offensive, methods. This is, in effect, a known fact simply because even the most passionate advocates/supporters have never been able to point to even one single unequivocal case where information gathered by use of torture was not available through other methods. I feel very confident that if such a case was well documented it would have been made public in great detail. Secrecy be damned.

    The second fact is that while cases where initial torture failed but further professional interrogation without torture got results are not rare there is a stark shortage of cases where torture got results after professional interrogation failed. Again, if the case could be made, it would have been.

    That said, I think a lot of this comes down to finding the keys under the street lamp simple because the light is better there. The US gets a lot of bad press simply because the a free press, a two party system, and mechanism for open records is, by international standards of major nations, something of a novelty. Don’t for a second make believe that the US, even at its worse, is the greatest offender measured by depth or breadth. What we see in this report is ugly and, as I’ve said, likely useless, but the ugliness and stink at the surface is just the beginning. You could drown in this cesspool.

  7. Nick Gotts says


    I don’t see anyone here condoning Chinese, Russian, North Korean or ISIS human rights abuses or hypocrisy. As for the USA, the man who oriignally blew the whistle on CIA torture, John Kiriakou, is indeed in jail; as is Chelsea Manning, who leaked information about American war crimes to wikileaks. Edward Snowden, who revealed illegal mass surveillance by the NSA, would undoubtedly be imprisoned if the American authorities could get hold of him. On the other hand, none of the torturers (with the exception of a few low-level military – not CIA – torturers ar Abu Ghraib), war criminals or invaders of privacy have been imprisoned, or appear likely to be.

  8. Nick Gotts says

    The US gets a lot of bad press simply because the a free press, a two party system, and mechanism for open records is, by international standards of major nations, something of a novelty. – lorn

    Bullshit. The USA has a compliant press, a two-party system where both parties are captive to the security establishment and big business, and security services that routinely lie about their activities. Its press (and the western press in general) is always (rightly) ready to publicise the human rights abuses of states or organisations perceived as hostile to the USA, while frequently ignoring or excusing those of the USA itself and its allies.

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