Last week saw three messages concerning the protection of US human rights while counter-terrorism measures are taken. All of them verify the lamentable conclusion – any war, especially against terrorism, makes citizens less secure against the state machine. Naturally, there are countries where the situation is much worse than in the USA, but nevertheless, the world’s most powerful country has to think over the protection of human rights.
The New York Times reported about a US soldier who sued the USA for the inability to protect his freedom of religion. The story of Jeremy Hall is not rare for the modern-day USA: he was brought up in a pious family, enlisted and during the Iraqi war he fell to thinking whether his country is doing right. The Bible raised his doubts, so he became a confirmed atheist. However, he soon faced up to aggression of sergeants and officers who did not differentiate between atheists and traitors.
In fact, the US history and its modern times persuade that certainty in religion and messiahship are crucial for the US statehood. Simultaneously, the USA is a democratic country that officially proclaims the equality of all religions. The case of Hall demonstrates the border between the formality and reality – even his commanders could not vouch for him, so he was sent to the USA and the persecution never ceased. The Pentagon remained indifferent and underlined that since 2005 they received only 50 complaints of such discrimination from military servicemen. However, according to The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a non-governmental organization that protects rights of soldiers and officers, they received 5,500 complaints since 2004. Taking into consideration the fact that US military servicemen have much more problems and they just hesitate to complain of them, this figure does not seem too great for the US troops, this is regarded as another episode in a long range of problems during the global war against terrorism.
Two days later The New York Times described another problem. Lawyers who defend the accused of this or that terrorist attack will be carefully examined by US special services, which rules out the mystery of relations between defenders and defendants. Moreover, there are not many lawyers who will risk being under close surveillance of the special services.
One should not think that it goes about fanatic outcasts here. The New York Times described the case of a lawyer whose richest client from Saudi Arabia was suspected as financing a terrorist act. Now the lawyer has to fly by plane to his defendant even for a talk. The special services have reasons for that: the defendant lives abroad, his possible malefactions are to be investigated and he should be carefully watched after. This is not common practice; there are lots of lawyers who are not under surveillance.
There are many people who may have troubles if they are suspected as being linked to terrorist attacks. The Washington Post, another respectable newspaper, acquired an interesting document from the Senate. In response to deputies’ request the US Department of Justice clarified that to torturing, or in legal terms, to using up-to-date interrogation methods, are allowed by the Geneva Convention in case this will help to prevent terrorist attacks.
This partial observance of law speaks for itself. However, there are questions about the logic of these methods. If it is known that a terrorist attack is being prepared, why is it necessary to torture somebody, or if they torture all and sundry to get confessions, they may miss a real terrorist attack. Anyway, there are quite a few questions about methods of counter-terrorism, and despite all efforts, there are frequent cases of terrorism.
Translated by Julia Bulygina