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As Power Cites Syria & S. Sudan, UN Has Photo Ops But No First Amendment

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 5, updated -- There were four new Ambassadors presenting their credentials Monday to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, but the managed media throng was for only one: Samantha Power of the United States.

Earlier on Monday, also at the UN, the foreign ministers of Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Venezuela (which Power called a "regime" in her Senate confirmation hearing) had told a different gaggle of media about meeting Ban about US spying and Edward Snowden.

  But Power in her remarks in the UN lobby did not allude to any of that. She cited "mass atrocities in Syria, South Sudan," saying that the US would work with the UN on these. Inner City Press wondered: why South Sudan and not Khartoum, Darfur?

Update: the US Mission transcript has a semi-colon: "mass atrocities in Syria; South Sudan." Duly noted.

  Why no mention of the Eastern Congo, including the UN still supporting the Army units which committed mass rape in Minova in November, 2012?

  Power took no questions. The next stop was up on the 38th floor, the ritual photo op. First former US official, now the UN's top political adviser Jeffrey Feltman came in, and Ban's chief of staff Susana Malcorra, from Argentina. What might her views be of l'affaire Snowden if not to say, Malvinas?

  Then came Samantha Power's husband Cass Sunstein. One wonders what he would make of the UN's lawlessness, represented by its terse "dismissal of claims" about bringing cholera to Haiti, or its lack of a Freedom of Information Act or even of content neutral accreditation and due process rules for journalists.

  (This, the new Free UN Coalition for Access is raising, following the UN's failure to respond to the NYCLU last year, here. The slogan? The First Amendment Stops on First Avenue.)

  The credentials were presented; the media was swept out with the option of waiting an hour for Argentine president Cristina Fernandez or rushing to the Security Council stakeout for Argentine Ambassador Perceval's read-out of a Council press statement condemning the attack on the Indian consultate in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

  One can imagine a defense of all this: there are complaints that the UN is getting too anonymous, now there will be some complaints about a cult of personality. But to some it's the worst of both worlds: while the US is the superstar at the UN, other countries are ignored, even as they are spied on.

The application of Samantha Power's book A Problem from Hell to the UN would be interesting. We'll be here. Watch this site.


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