Monday, August 30, 2010

FACT CHECK ANALYSIS: Gov. Brewer Judges U.S. State Dept. Report "Unconstitutional"; She Is Indignant, Offended, Misleading (links to Brewer letter, State Dept. report)

On Friday, Gov. Jan Brewer decided to attack a U.S. State Department overview on the United States' positions and progress on human rights.  She sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

In doing so, she declared her "indignation" and stated that it is "downright offensive" that there was a brief mention of the not-so-secret legal action surrounding Arizona's SB1070 law.  Fine.  However, she incorrectly asserted that the federal government is "apparently... trying to make an international human rights case out of S.B. 1070" and that inclusion of Arizona in the report is "internationalism run amok and unconstitutional." 

The "Universal Periodic Review" is a process whereby each nation can submit a report, self-surveying the positives and negatives of efforts in the ever-developing area of human rights.  As the U.S. report indicates, the Declaration of Independence was a key step in furthering human rights and that the United States has been a leader in promoting human rights awareness elsewhere. (paragraphs 1-5)  The U.N., other nations or NGO's may submit reports on their own.  In November, the UPR Working Group will meet and make comments, recommendations, etc. on reports from the U.S.  - all of which can be accepted or rejected by the U.S. 

The United States (and 15 other nations) are part of the ninth group of the 192 member nations being reviewed - the 4-year cycle will be completed next year.  Examples of the reports of some of the other nations' reviews may be enlightening:  here are reports on the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and Iran.  Safe to say that the report on the U.S. in November will look more like the U.K.'s than Iran's. 

It would be silly for anyone to think that simply because the U.S. self-review did not mention S.B. 1070, that noone else would bring it up.  So, the State Department politely tip-toed around the subject.  Here is what the report stated:  "95. A recent Arizona law, S.B. 1070, has generated significant attention and debate at home and around the world. The issue is being addressed in a court action that argues that the federal government has the authority to set and enforce immigration law. That action is ongoing; parts of the law are currently enjoined."  No braggadocio about the federal government filing an action and arguments which convinced Judge Bolton.  No asking that the international community issue a decision on the human rights aspects of the law.  Not even an insinuation that the law is offensive to human rights at all; simply a note that it is being included because it "has generated significant attention and debate at home and around the world," and that it is in the judicial process.  We have it under control, World, and our institutions are working.

Gov. Brewer insists that this is "downright offensive", that it is piling on and making "an international human rights case" on top of the federal lawsuit.  (Note, use of the word "already" conflating the UPR and federal suit.)  And, while she (barely) conditions her sentence by stating that "The idea of our own American government submitting...,"  she calls this report "UNCONSTITUTIONAL" (and "internationalism run amok").  

Such comments made with full knowledge that there is no sliver of an argument to be made that the UPR - and participation in the voluntary and non-binding UPR process - is against any provision of our beloved U.S. Constitution can only be seen as an effort to appeal to and motivate a segment of the electorate, to further endear herself to conservative media, and to foment misunderstanding and distrust of the federal government.

For her posturing, accusatory letter, Gov. Brewer earns a "COMPLETELY MISLEADING"

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