At Home and Abroad, Bush's "War on Terror" Faces Mounting Criticism
France-Presse - December 30, 2002
At home and abroad, US President George W. Bush's "war on terror" was
facing mounting criticism over fears that fundamental human rights and freedoms
were being eroded.
Actors, writers, lawyers, politicians, and millions of ordinary people
worldwide have in recent weeks all questioned the no-holds-barred US
policy which many fear will be counter-productive.
Huge anti-war demonstrations have taken place in cities across the globe
and more are planned for the new year, including a major one in Washington
on January 18.
Spain's top anti-terror judge became the lastest to add his voice to the
growing chorus of critics, warning Sunday of "the risk of a false system
of security being put in place to the detriment of freedoms and rights.
"The case of terrorists held in Guantanamo (the US base in Cuba),
Afghanistan and Pakistan proves that security is trumping every other principle of justice or rights," said Baltasar Garzon said.
Garzon, who has fought against Basque separatists in Spain, made a world
name for himself when he led international efforts to prosecute former
Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet for war crimes.
In Germany, where anti-US sentiment is at its highest level since the
euro-missile crisis of the 1980s, Nobel prize-winning author Guenter Grass
called Bush's response to the September 11 attacks on the United States
as "truly dangerous" and a major threat to world peace.
He compared the US president to a Shakespearean character who wants only
appear before his father, a dying king, and tell him: "Look, I have
accomplished what you wanted."
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder narrowly squeaked home in recent
after saying his country would not join any US-led strike on Iraq.
That declaration angered Washington, straining relations already damaged
by comments from a former justice minister comparing Bush's methods on Iraq
to those of Hitler.
Nearer home, Bush faces opposition from Hollywood to Havana. Film and
rock stars have protested his policy in Iraq and human rights groups his
treatment of al-Qaeda and Taliban prisoners.
US star and filmmaker Sean Penn led Hollywood's dissent with a high-profile three-day visit to Baghdad earlier this month.
Penn may have taken the most militant stand, but other stars, such as
Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford, have also
lined up against the Texan president.
The 65-year-old Redford wrote to Bush in an open letter published in the
Los Angeles Times, attacking his environmental policy and suggesting that
Washington should not intervene in Iraq.
Redford's public hostility came after a constellation of other top
Hollywood celebrities appeared at anti-war demonstrations or signed peace
petitions in recent weeks.
Martin Sheen, who plays the US president in the hit television series "The West Wing," branded Bush's campaign against Iraq a "personal feud," alluding
to the 1991 Gulf War waged by Bush's father against Saddam.
In October, Barbra Streisand led an attack on Bush saying she found his
administration "frightening" and slamming its alleged bellicose stance
towards Baghdad and failure to protect civil rights at home.
Human Rights Watch has meanwhile said the US could be in breach of international law if it either held prisoners at Guantanamo Bay indefinitely without charges or sent them to countries where they could face torture.
That concern has been echoed by the UN's top human rights official Sergio
Vieira de Mello who called for the detainees either to be released or
sent to face trial.