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Amnesty International, George Clooney and the Bidding of Empire

In March this year Frank S. Jannuzi was named Washington DC office head at Amnesty International USA (AIUSA). Frank, a former staffer with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is Hitachi International Affairs Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the most powerful foreign policy pressure group in the world. Over the years, CFR’s membership has included 22 US secretaries of state.

Those on CFR’s Board of Directors today include Robert E. Rubin, former CEO of Goldman Sachs, Secretary of the Treasury under Clinton and special advisor to the Obama Administration; Madeleine Albright,former Secretary of State who when on 60 Minutes was asked by Lesley Stahl on the effects of U.S. sanctions against Iraq: “We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?”  Secretary of State Madeleine Albright replied: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it”; Peter G. Peterson, of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, who has been pushing for the destruction of Social Security for over ten years; and Penny Pritzker, Chairman and CEO of PSP Capital, who besides being one of Chicago’s wealthiest woman is also on the Chicago School Board closing public schools in the poorest parts of the city.

These are names not typically associated with humanitarian causes.

In taking his new position Jannuzi is quoted on AIUSA’s website as saying: “I am thrilled to be joining Amnesty International and look forward to connecting the passion and expertise of AIUSA with the policy-making community in Washington that I know well.”

And how might that work?

In a CFR moderated discussion George Clooney discussed the plight of the Sudanese in the Nuba Mountains who are caught up in the country’s civil war.  Not surprising the area includes a proposed pipeline route that will carry oil to a seaport in the north.

So George gets arrested on Friday March 16th, and on Monday the 19th AIUSA begins an email campaign calling for Sudanese President al-Bashir to be brought to justice with the banner: What was actor George Clooney doing in jail, while Sudan’s president and indicted war crimes suspect Omar al-Bashir runs free?

Interestingly, March 16th was the day AIUSA announced Jannuzi’s new position with the organization.

So is AIUSA, along with George Clooney and Hollywood in general, supporting the CFR in their effort to manage the American people’sperceptions of Africa for the purpose of furthering their government’s foreign policy objectives in the region?

Why does AIUSA mount campaigns focused on Africa – Kony 2012, Sudan’s al-Bashir, and the investigation of civilian deaths in Libya – but not promote similar campaigns within the borders of the US calling for the arrest of its known war criminals?

And why doesn’t AIUSA mount campaigns to stop US humanitarian crimes before they occur?  The Iran war is the next human rights catastrophe that will be unleashed on the world, but AIUSA isn’t trying to stop it.  Why not?

Are AIUSA’s commendable humanitarian efforts being used as a screen for the organization’s work in the service of the American empire?

John Vincent lives in Burlingame, California.

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