Al Gore, The Pro-Torture Candidate

Tony Abdo aabdo at
Sat Aug 26 00:36:22 MDT 2000

This article  from 'Common Dreams' kind of begs Clinton to be good.
And so many beg Gore to be as 'good' as Clinton.      Liberals, please
don't beg.       It's not like you're getting the electricity in your
.......      Tony

Published on Friday, August 25, 2000 in the St Paul Pioneer Press
Export Of Torture Device Fosters Torture Abroad
by H. Knox Thames
As his final term in office slowly winds down, President Clinton
continues to search for a meaningful foreign-policy achievement on which
to stake his legacy. But while he has pursued such high-profile
challenges as peace in the Mideast, there is at least one small but
significant action he could take that would make an important
contribution to the cause of human rights.

The Republic of Turkey is allowed unfettered access to U.S.-manufactured
electric-shock devices, despite the fact that it is consistently linked
with gross violations of human rights through the use of torture. The
State Department's annual Human Rights Report calls the use of torture
in Turkey ``widespread.´´ Assistant Secretary of State Harold Koh
lists torture as the top human-rights issue affecting relations between
the United States and Turkey.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International
Federation of Human Rights all have cited the use of torture in Turkey
as widespread and common.

As international scrutiny of such practices increases, repressive
regimes have increasingly turned to electric shock as the torture method
of choice. It's cheap, very painful and, best of all from the standpoint
of the torturer, leaves few incriminating marks on the victim.
U.S. regulations bar the export of products that could be used to
violate internationally accepted norms of human rights. It would
certainly seem that such electric-shock devices would fall under this

So how is it, then, that, according to Amnesty International, U.S.-based
firms account for almost half of the total sales of such devices

The root of the problem can be found in the Export Administration Act of
1979, which waives the requirement for export licenses on goods that
fall into the category of ``crime control´´ devices to NATO
countries, including Turkey. U.S. firms are therefore free to sell
electric-shock devices to Turkey, despite
its abysmal human-right record.

Closing this loophole by legislative means has so far proved
unsuccessful. Because of the complexity of the measure, and because
foreign trade plays such a vital role in the U.S. economy, previous
attempts to revise the act have become mired in congressional debate.
Congress once spent more than two years considering the statute before
finally reauthorizing the act.

But presidential action offers a possible solution. The act authorizes
the president to either ``impose, extend or expand export controls´´
if five criteria, ranging from foreign-policy goals to the effect on the
domestic economy, are met. In the case of electric-shock devices, these
thresholds can easily be met. While presidential action would not ban
the export of electric-shock devices, requiring a license would prohibit
their sales to countries such as Turkey until they comply with
international standards of human rights.

Clinton has sought achievements to mark his place in history. Yet, it is
through a small action, such as requiring export licenses for devices
that could be used by human-rights violators on thousands of victims
around the world, and especially in Turkey, that the president may
obtain the type of lasting foreign-policy legacy he so desperately hopes
to achieve.

Thames is a graduate student at American University in Washington and
served as an intern for the Congressional Commission for Security and
Cooperation in Europe. Distributed for the Global Beat Syndicate by KRT
News Service.
© 2000 PioneerPlanet / St. Paul (Minnesota) Pioneer Press

More information about the Marxism mailing list