Pinochet re-arrested, and during Human Rights Week, to boot
With Operation Enduring-The-Next-Four-Years wheezing along, it’s so cute that midway during the planet’s annual Human Rights Week (it began last Friday), General Augusto Pinochet was arrested on human rights charges.
The 89-year-old ex-dictator of Chile was made famous by Operation Condor, a conspiracy by South American dictators to kill leftists. He was a real-life Dr. Evil of the ’70s — and he could almost always count on strong support (especially behind the scenes) by our own Dr. Henry Kissinger.
After years during which Pinochet’s lawyers have staved off attempts to try him on murder charges, the enfeebled fascist has been found “mentally fit” to stand trial and he has been formally charged with murder and kidnapping. Elizabeth Davies of The Independent (U.K) quotes Judge Juan Guzman as saying on Monday:
I find that he is very physically deteriorated, but he has coherence in his psychological capacity, and he understands questions, gives appropriate answers.
This is one instance in which George W. Bush can be contrasted with Pinochet. I can’t help but think of the physically fit Bush’s August 5 speech, in which he said:
Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.
But maybe Bush really meant it the way it sounds. Last Wednesday, when Colin Powell announced the kickoff of Human Rights Week from Brussels, the exiting Secretary of State started out by saying all the right things in his statement:
This year the government of the United States joins the global community in commemorating the 56th Anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Wrought from the horrors of the Second World War, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly to enshrine the principles of equality and justice in law.
Then, after noting Bush’s official proclamation, Powell’s statement added:
In commemorating this week, we reaffirm our commitment to the principles which have come to characterize our nation.
“The principles which have come to characterize our nation”? You mean the shit that we’re doing in the world now? Why do I keep sounding surprised about this? When am I going to stop asking such questions? (How about right now?)
Kissinger is the guy whom Bush originally wanted to head the 9/11 Commission. What a feast that would have been for ol’ Dr. Covert himself. But Kissinger loses his appetite when reporters want to sit down with him over a bowl of Chile con junta.
Kissinger’s been regularly ducking questions from Diana Jean Schemo of the New York Times on the topic. Why? Slate‘s Jack Shafer takes a wild guess:
Schemo’s [October 1 story], “Kissinger Cool to Criticizing Juntas in ’76,” documents two occasions when the former secretary of state hauled U.S. diplomats across the coals after one of them went off the Kissinger script to criticize human rights violations in Argentina and Chile.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 13, 2004