Ken Roth engaged in a confrontational and somewhat disjointed discussion on Russia Today (RT) about Syria. The RT interviewer made some very good points but was also misinformed on some matters (for example HRW’s opposition to the Iraq War). Her main failing was, however, to miss an opportunity to expose Roth’s flagrant dishonesty.
Ken Roth simply lied when he said HRW has not taken a position for or against bombing Syria in retaliation for Assad’s alleged chemical weapons attack.
Roth – the executive director of HRW it must be stressed – has publicly gone far beyond endorsing a US strike on Syria. He actually expressed concern that the strike would not be big enough, that it would be “only symbolic”.
If ever confronted about this, Roth may quibble that his remark was not an official “HRW” statement, but nobody should be fooled by that. When the executive director of a human rights organization makes a public remark like that, his organization should either own it or make him resign. It is not like he was publicly expressing a personal opinion about baseball or some topic unrelated to his work as the head of HRW.
The Interviewer should also have confronted Roth with the revolving door between HRW and the US State Dept. She did astutely point out how Roth said “we” at one point during the interview in a way that underscored what far more people should know – that HRW’s world view and the US State department’s is extremely close. I’ve documented numerous examples of how HRW’s statements reflect the world view of the US government (see here, here, here , here and here).
How long before outlets like Democracy Now! begin to challenging HRW officials the way RT did?
Assad's forces may be guilty of the alleged chemical weapons attack that Roth debated with the RT interviewer, but, as Gareth Porter explains, it is very far from certain as claimed by Roth (and of course the US State Department).
When evaluating anything said by HRW or its top people, HRW's very well established bias should always be taken into account.