Fox News host John Gibson falsely claimed that "human-rights groups" haven't "sa[id] a word" about reports that two U.S. soldiers had been brutally tortured and murdered by an insurgent group in Iraq. In fact, two major human-rights organizations, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, denounced the killings and alleged torture as potential "war crimes."
During the "My Word" segment on the June 21 edition of Fox News' The Big Story, host John Gibson falsely claimed that "human-rights groups" haven't "sa[id] a word" about reports that two U.S. soldiers in Iraq had been brutally tortured and murdered by an Al Qaeda-affiliated group, adding that "the silence from the human-rights groups is grotesque." Gibson concluded that the human-rights organizations, "who protest mistreatment such as feeding detainees Froot Loops or denying them sleep or peace and quiet while we try and get information from them," have "probably" remained silent about the incident because "they're embarrassed at the behavior of the people they're defending." However, two of the world's largest human-rights organizations, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, publicly denounced the killings and alleged torture as potential "war crimes."
On June 21, the executive director of Amnesty International USA, Larry Cox, responded to the alleged torture of the two soldiers:
Amnesty International, first and foremost, extends its sincerest condolences to the families of Pfc. Kristian Menchaca and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker for their tragic loss. We are deeply disturbed by reports that these two soldiers were brutally tortured. These reports, if proven true, may rise to the level of war crimes.
Amnesty International condemns the torture or summary killing of anyone who has been taken prisoner and reiterates that such acts are absolutely prohibited in international humanitarian law. This prohibition applies at all times, even during armed conflict. There is no honor or heroism in torturing or killing individuals. Those who order or commit such atrocities must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law without recourse to the death penalty.
Amnesty International again calls on armed groups in Iraq to immediately cease all executions, torture or ill-treatment of people. Armed groups, like other parties to the conflict in Iraq, are required to comply strictly with international law and remain accountable for their actions.
In addition, Human Rights Watch also issued a condemnation of the incident on June 21:
Yesterday's recovery of the bodies of two U.S. soldiers in Iraq, reportedly with signs of torture, highlights the serious violations of international humanitarian law (laws of war) committed by insurgent groups in Iraq, Human Rights Watch said today.
All combatants in Iraq are subject to attack. But captured combatants must be treated humanely. Torture and other cruel treatment, as well as summarily executing a captured combatant, are war crimes.
This is not the first time human-rights groups have criticized the tactics of insurgents in Iraq. In the July 2005 report "Iraq, In Cold Blood: Abuses by Armed Groups," Amnesty International documented brutal attacks by insurgents, saying that "[m]any of these killings by armed groups ... constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity." Similarly, in October 2005, Human Rights Watch released a report documenting "crimes committed against civilians by insurgent groups" in Iraq while also "address[ing] the arguments these groups and their supporters use to justify unlawful attacks."
From the June 21 edition of Fox News' The Big Story with John Gibson:
GIBSON: "My Word": The silence from the human rights groups is grotesque. Two American soldiers are captured, time now for the insurgency to prove they can abide by the Geneva Accords or any standard of decency, or it's time for them to prove they can confine their barbarity to simple, aggressive interrogation techniques or time for them to prove that they are better than the hated Americans. But none of that.
Instead, it's gouging out the eyes, hacking off the limbs, cutting off heads, booby-trapping the bodies. OK, let's say we already know about these people we're fighting. We can recall only a few days ago, the days immediately prior to killing [terrorist leader Abu Musab al-] Zarqawi, 17 heads were found in fruit boxes in the same area where these American soldiers were captured, tortured, and slaughtered like farm animals.
We already know how bad these people are that we're fighting, but where are the human-rights groups who protest mistreatment such as feeding detainees Froot Loops or denying them sleep or peace and quiet while we try and get information from them, or going so far as to let a dog snarl at them or dunk their heads under water for a few moments?
"These people are being tortured," the human-rights groups howl. What do they have to say about the head-cutters? Nothing? Why is that? Is it because they're embarrassed at the behavior of the people they're defending? That's probably it. Pure embarrassment, so they don't say a word. Let it quickly be forgotten, like that poor Nick Berg, whose head was removed and dangled before a camera.
The insurgents are trying to kill us. We worry about rules of engagement. The insurgents infiltrate the Iraqi military, then ambush the American troops they're patrolling with -- and that happened recently -- but we put Marines in chains on the allegation they killed an Iraqi who wasn't an insurgent after all.
The people who are trying to kill us will kill Iraqis to get to us, but the problem is the American Marine who returns fire, a building collapses, and innocents are crushed? The human-rights crowd needs to speak up, and this time not about the Americans, but for the Americans. That's "My Word."