We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right. America will not pretend…that women welcome humiliation and servitude.Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice referred to these goals as the “non-negotiable demands of human dignity.” But a recent Saudi court decision has shown the administration very willing to fold when this rhetoric is tested.
A week ago, a Saudi appeals court increased the punishment for the female victim of a gang rape. The woman, who had been appealing her original sentence of 90 lashes, was sentenced to six months in prison and 200 lashes after her appeal.
The Saudi judges more than doubled the punishment for the victim because of “her attempt to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media.” The Saudi Justice Ministry confirmed that the stiffer sentence handed out on appeal stemmed from the fact that the victim had gone to the media with her story. “Media may have adverse effects on the other parties involved in the case,” a statement said.
Asked to offer the administration’s position on the court ruling, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said on Monday that the administration was “astonished,” but had "nothing else to offer."
Yesterday, McCormack was asked if the administration’s silence was “driven by a desire not to offend Saudi Arabia as a close ally.” “No, it’s — no, that’s not it at all,” he claimed, but then acknowledged the administration has yet to convey its “astonishment” directly to the Saudis. “I am not aware of any direct contact with the Saudis on this issue,” he said.
Apparently, there is some negotiability in Bush’s demands for human freedom.
LSB: At the OPEC Summit last week Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister (and Bush friend), warned that even the mere mention to journalists of the fact that leaders were discussing the weak dollar would cause the US currency to plummet. This week this administration turns its back on the human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia. Quid pro quo. Is this what makes America great? When did we lose our values?