Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: September 2009

TWO - The Human Rights Challenge from Within

Summary

Much has been written about the American “road to Abu Ghraib.” This chapter focuses on the road after Abu Ghraib. It sketches a composite of an unprecedented American human rights campaign that slowly took shape after the gripping images of torture and abuse at the notorious Iraqi prison first came to light. It begins by focusing on two early manifestations of the campaign, the first being an impressive effort to challenge the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General of the United States and the second a mobilization around the passage of the so-called McCain Anti-Torture Amendment to the 2006 Department of Defense Appropriation Act.

Ultimately, Alberto Gonzales won confirmation and the human rights achievements of the McCain amendment were stripped almost immediately following its passage – first by a tentative U.S. Congress through its coupling of the amendment with a provision that limited habeas corpus appeals for Guantanamo detainees, then by a president intent on preserving the torture option through a signing statement, and later by the two branches in concert through provisions of the Military Commissions Act (MCA). Despite the seemingly bleak outcome, the initiatives reshaped American human rights dynamics and laid an important foundation for human rights contests to come. For this reason, beyond presenting the actors and strategies involved, this chapter is largely devoted to evaluating the two early initiatives introduced and exploring the subsequent evolution of the United States' domestic human rights landscape.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO
Kiely, Kathy and Welch, William M., Abu Ghraib Photos Cause Gasp in Congress, USA Today, May 12, 2004
Finnemore, Martha and Sikkink, Kathryn, Taking Stock: The Constructivist Research Program in International Relations and Comparative Politics, 4 Am. Rev. Pol. Sci. 391, 407 (2001)
Andreason, Steve, Beyond the Roots of Abu Ghraib, Washington Post, Sept. 7, 2004
The Italian Job: The CIA's Capture and Transport of Terrorist Suspect Must End, Editorial, Houston Chronicle, Jun. 28, 2005, 8
Isikoff, Michael, Memos Reveal War Crimes Warnings, Newsweek, May 19, 2004
Priest, Dana, Justice Dept. Memo Says Torture May Be Justified, Washington Post, Jun. 13, 2004
Sidoti, Liz, House GOP May Try to Weaken Detainee Rules, Associated press, October 7, 2005
Priest, Dana, CIA Holds Terror Suspects in Secret Prisons, Washington Post, Nov. 2, 2005
Barry, John, Hersh, Michael, and Isikoff, Michael, The Roots of Torture, 163:21Newsweek12 (2004)
,Editorial, A Degrading Policy, Washington Post, Jan. 26, 2005, A20
Herbert, Bob, Who Isn't against Torture?N.Y. Times, Oct. 10, 2005
,Editorial, End the Abuse, Washington Post, Oct. 7, 2005, at A22
,Editorial, Vice President for Torture, Washington Post, Oct. 26, 2005, at A18
,Editorial, American Gulag, Washington Post, May 26, 2005, at A26
Cortell, Andrew and Davis, James, Understanding the Domestic Impact of International Norms: A Research Agenda, 2 Int'l. Studies Rev. 65, 77 (2000)
Finnmore, Martha and Sikkink, Kathryn, International Norm Dynamics and Political Change, 52 Int'l. Org. 887, 897 (1998)
McCain, John, Torture's Terrible Toll, 146:21Newsweek35 (Nov. 21, 2005)
Massimino, Elisa, Fighting from Strength: Human Rights and the Challenge of Terrorism, in The Future of Human Rights (Schultz, William F. ed., 2008)
Babbington, Charles and Eggen, Dan, Senate Confirms Gonzales 60 to 36, Vote Reflects Concerns over Detainee Policy, Washington Post, Feb. 4, 2005, A01
Risse, Thomas and Sikkink, Katheryn, The Socialization of International Human Rights Norms into Domestic Practices: Introduction, inThe Power of Human Rights (Risse, Thomas, Ropp, Stephen, and Sikkink, Kathryn eds., 1999)
Kristoff, Nicholas, Sami's Shame and Ours, N.Y. Times, Oct. 17, 2006
Mertus, Julie, Human Rights and Civil Society in a New Age of American Exceptionalism, inHuman Rights in the “War on Terror” (Wilson, Richard A. ed., 2005)
Cunningham, Ken, Permanent War? The Domestic Hegemony of the New American Militarism, 24:6New Pol. Sci. (Dec. 2004)