Published on Monday, December 30, 2002 by Agence France Presse
At Home and Abroad, Bush's 'War on Terror' Faces Mounting Criticism
At home and abroad, US President George W. Bush's "war on terror" was facing mounting criticism over fears that fundamental human rights and freedoms were being eroded.
Actors, writers, lawyers, politicians, and millions of ordinary people worldwide have in recent weeks all questioned the no-holds-barred US policy which many fear will be counter-productive.
Huge anti-war demonstrations have taken place in cities across the globe and more are planned for the new year, including a major one in Washington on January 18.
Spain's top anti-terror judge became the latest to add his voice to the growing chorus of critics, warning Sunday of "the risk of a false system of security being put in place to the detriment of freedoms and rights.
"The case of terrorists held in Guantanamo (the US base in Cuba), Afghanistan and Pakistan proves that security is trumping every other principle of justice or rights," said Baltasar Garzon said.
Garzon, who has fought against Basque separatists in Spain, made a world name for himself when he led international efforts to prosecute former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet for war crimes.
In Germany, where anti-US sentiment is at its highest level since the euro-missile crisis of the 1980s, Nobel prize-winning author Guenter Grass called Bush's response to the September 11 attacks on the United States as "truly dangerous" and a major threat to world peace.
He compared the US president to a Shakespearean character who wants only to appear before his father, a dying king, and tell him: "Look, I have accomplished what you wanted."
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder narrowly squeaked home in recent elections after saying his country would not join any US-led strike on Iraq.
That declaration angered Washington, straining relations already damaged by comments from a former justice minister comparing Bush's methods on Iraq to those of Hitler.
Nearer home, Bush faces opposition from Hollywood to Havana. Film and rock stars have protested his policy in Iraq and human rights groups his treatment of al-Qaeda and Taliban prisoners.
US star and filmmaker Sean Penn led Hollywood's dissent with a high-profile three-day visit to Baghdad earlier this month.
Penn may have taken the most militant stand, but other stars, such as Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford, have also lined up against the Texan president.
The 65-year-old Redford wrote to Bush in an open letter published in the Los Angeles Times, attacking his environmental policy and suggesting that Washington should not intervene in Iraq.
Redford's public hostility came after a constellation of other top Hollywood celebrities appeared at anti-war demonstrations or signed peace petitions in recent weeks.
Martin Sheen, who plays the US president in the hit television series "The West Wing," branded Bush's campaign against Iraq a "personal feud," alluding to the 1991 Gulf War waged by Bush's father against Saddam.
In October, Barbra Streisand led an attack on Bush saying she found his administration "frightening" and slamming its alleged bellicose stance towards Baghdad and failure to protect civil rights at home.
Human Rights Watch has meanwhile said the US could be in breach of international law if it either held prisoners at Guantanamo Bay indefinitely without charges or sent them to countries where they could face torture.
That concern has been echoed by the UN's top human rights official Sergio Vieira de Mello who called for the detainees either to be released or sent to face trial.
Copyright 2002 AFP