U.N. Ambassador John Bolton today told U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour to back off. Arbour, in a statement closely related to her recent commentary in the International Herald Tribune, said the United States is eroding respect for the international prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Having apparently slipped his leash, Bolton said,
Today is Human Rights Day. It would be appropriate, I think, for the U.N.'s high commissioner for human rights to talk about the serious human rights problems that exist in the world today. . . . It is disappointing that she has chosen to talk about press commentary about alleged American conduct. I think the secretary of state has fully and completely addressed the substance of the allegations, so I won't go back into that again other than to reaffirm that the United States does not engage in torture.
Bolton also said, "I think it is inappropriate and illegitimate for an international civil servant to second-guess the conduct that we're engaged in in the war on terror, with nothing more as evidence than what she reads in the newspapers."
"Alleged American conduct"? "Reaffirm that the United States does not engage in torture"? "Nothing more as evidence than what she reads in the newspapers"? Did Bolton somehow miss the photos from Abu Ghraib? Has he not read the reports conducted by military investigators? Is he unaware that American soldiers have been convicted of charges related to the abuse of detainees? Does he think that hundreds of stories in the world's most respected newspapers are all without foundation?
Or is he just intent on causing American credibility to go even lower?