The State Department welcomes the nation known for daily beheadings, and even using crucifixion, to head a U.N. human rights panel.
Saudi Arabia is going to head a United Nations human rights panel. It is ludicrous.
Under the headline, “U.S. State Department ‘Welcomes’ News That Saudi Arabia Will Head U.N. Human Rights Panel,” Glenn Greenwald reports on the international outrage that was caused by this news. But he also quotes from an exchange between Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner of the United States State Department and Reporter Mike Lee of the Associated Press at a briefing:
QUESTION: Yesterday, Saudi Arabia was named to head the Human Rights Council, and today I think they announced they are about to behead a 21-year-old Shia activist named Muhammed al-Nimr. Are you aware of that?
TONER:I’m not aware of the trial that you — or the verdict — death sentence.
QUESTION: Well, apparently, he was arrested when was 17 years old and kept in juvenile detention, then moved on. And now, he’s been scheduled to be executed.
TONER:Right. I mean, we’ve talked about our concerns about some of the capital punishment cases in Saudi Arabia in our Human Rights Report, but I don’t have any more to add to it.
QUESTION: So you —
QUESTION: Well, how about a reaction to them heading the council
TONER:Again, I don’t have any comment, don’t have any reaction to it. I mean, frankly, it’s — we would welcome it. We’re close allies.If we —
QUESTION: Do you think that they’re an appropriate choice given — I mean, how many pages is — does Saudi Arabia get in the Human Rights Report annually?
TONER:I can’t give that off the top of my head, Matt.
QUESTION: I can’t either, but let’s just say that there’s a lot to write about Saudi Arabia and human rights in that report. I’m just wondering if you — that it’s appropriate for them to have a leadership position.
TONER:We have a strong dialogue, obviously a partnership with Saudi Arabia that spans, obviously, many issues. We talk about human rights concerns with them. As to this leadership role, we hope that it’s an occasion for them to look at human rights around the world but also within their own borders.
QUESTION: But you said that you welcome them in this position. Is it based on [an] improved record? I mean, can you show or point to anything where there is a sort of stark improvement in their human rights record?
TONER:I mean, we have an ongoing discussion with them about all these human rights issues, like we do with every country. We make our concerns clear when we do have concerns, but that dialogue continues. But I don’t have anything to point to in terms of progress.
Remember that video of Barack Obama bowing to the Saudi King? That is symbolic of our entire government’s posture toward the regime in Saudi Arabia.
Greenwald goes on to assert, on the basis of one of his recent interviews, that the United States government actually loves regimes that abuse their people as long as they cooperate with the U.S. agenda. That is all too believable.