ABC News Middle East analyst and military expert Anthony Cordesman published a report last month advocating the use of “excessive force” against Palestinian civilians, including “interrogation methods that border on psychological and/or physical torture.” The report was released by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), an influential Washington think tank where Cordesman holds a chair in international security.
Amnesty International has condemned Cordesman’s report as a “dangerously irresponsible contribution to the escalating violence in Israel and thePalestinian Authority” that risks “legitimizing torture.” Cordesman’s CSISreport urged the Israeli government and the Palestinian National Authority to use security methods that violate human rights in order to implement any future U.S.-brokered peace agreement.
CSIS’s Middle East task force, which Cordesman co-directs, includes prominent American policymakers such as Sen. Joseph Lieberman and Sen. John McCain. According to the London Independent (11/6/00), copies of the report have been circulating among senior U.S., Israeli and Palestinian Authority officials.
Cordesman has been a prominent military analyst for ABC News for over ten years, frequently appearing on-air to provide analysis of military and Middle East issues. During last year’s NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, he was often invited to comment on NATO’s military strategy.
In a section of his report entitled “Peace and Security as the Natural Enemies of Human Rights,” Cordesman lays out his recommendations: “There will be no future peace or stable peace process,” he wrote, “if the Palestinian security forces do not act ruthlessly and effectively.”
Specifically, he notes that “effective counter-terrorism relies on interrogation methods that border on psychological and/or physical torture, arrests and detentions that are ‘arbitrary’ by the standards of civil law, break-ins and intelligence operations that violate the normal rights of privacy, levels of violence in making arrests that are unacceptable in civil cases, and measures that involve the innocent (or at least not provably directly guilty) in arrests and penalties.”
As a model for the Palestinian Authority, Cordesman holds up the British forces in Northern Ireland, who often “used excessive force, abused human rights, and used extreme interrogation methods and torture” but who nevertheless “did an excellent job of balancing the conflicting problems of effective security and a concern for human rights.”
Marty Rosenbluth, Israel/Occupied Territories coordinator for Amnesty International USA, told FAIR: “I’ve been doing human rights work for almost 20 years and this is one of the most bizarre documents I’ve ever seen. It’s basically a blueprint for human rights violations that [the authors] want the Palestinian Authority to follow.”
ACTION: Please write to ABC and ask them whether they believe it is appropriate to use someone who explicitly advocates the violation of human rights as an ABC military analyst.
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