When George W. Bush addressed the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, he glowingly referred to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the UN in 1948. He said:
This morning, I want to speak about the more hopeful world that is within our reach, a world beyond terror, where ordinary men and women are free to determine their own destiny, where the voices of moderation are empowered, and where the extremists are marginalized by the peaceful majority. This world can be ours if we seek it and if we work together.
The principles of this world beyond terror can be found in the very first sentence of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This document declares that “the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom and justice and peace in the world.”
One of the authors of this document was a Lebanese diplomat named Charles Malik, who would go on to become president of this assembly. Mr. Malik insisted that these principles applied equally to all people, of all regions, of all religions, including the men and women of the Arab world that was his home.
In the nearly six decades since that document was approved, we have seen the forces of freedom and moderation transform entire continents….The words of the Universal Declaration are as true today as they were when they were written.
That is some endorsement. But how familiar is Bush with the entire document? Let’s start with Article 5:
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Bush claims that his adminsitration has not tortured any terrorist suspect. But that claim has been challenged. (In the book I co-wrote with Michael Isikoff, Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the War, we recount the tale of a captured al Qaeda commander handed over by the CIA to Egyptian authorities, who was aggressively questioned–perhaps tortured–and provided false information linking Saddam Hussein to al Qaeda. This information was then used by Colin Powell during his now infamous UN speech before the invasion of Iraq.)
All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.