Friday, December 14, 2012

Victory! Amnesty-USA Head Suzanne Nossel Resigns

You may remember the storm of controversy over bus shelter ads posted by Amnesty International-USA during the NATO summit in Chicago last summer: Amnesty's Shilling for US Wars by Coleen Rowley and Ann Wright presented the problem with the claim that Afghan women and girls have seen "progress" under a decade of NATO occupation, and more generally that war for humanitarian reasons is not an oxymoron.
Ads run by AI-USA under Suzanne Nossel's leadership, June 2012, Chicago.
Many of us active in opposing the war in Afghanistan were appalled that a formerly reputable human rights organization appeared to be the doing the dirty propaganda work of the U.S. government, echoing falsehoods concocted at the State Dept. Then we found out who Suzanne Nossel used to work for -- the U.S. State Dept. In fact she had built her career publishing justifications for so-called "Smart Power" i.e. using human rights goals as a vehicle for promoting U.S. interests abroad. Also, insiders at AI-USA reported she had been firing key staff and replacing them with State Dept. alumni.

AI-USA received a demand in July signed by many of its own members and by concerned activists that they ask Nossel to step down.

CODEPINK co-director Rae Abileah and NYC local coordinator Cristina Castro protested outside AI-USA's board meeting in Manhattan, helping to educate directors who were arriving for the meeting.

Nossel resigned recently, effective Jan. 11, 2013
Which revolving door back into government will Nossel emerge from? Will she be on hand to help with "humanitarian(sic) intervention" in Syria perhaps? Some think her ambition is to replace Susan Rice as heiress apparent to Hillary Clinton's job. No matter where Nossel lands, AI-USA is better off without her. Here's their board chair's letter announcing her resignation:
Message from Shahram Hashemi, AIUSA Board Chair 
Dear Colleagues, 
AIUSA today announced that Executive Director Suzanne Nossel has tendered her resignation effective January 11, 2013.  We are grateful to Suzanne for her dedication and efforts to strengthen AIUSA's wide ranging efforts and initiatives.  We know her long-term focus on achieving human rights will continue and we wish her well in her future endeavors.  AIUSA's strong senior leadership team ensures that the organization continues to move ahead to implement the new Strategy and Business Plan and is ready at all times to initiate critical human rights activities.  Our staff, volunteer leaders, members and our global movement are our core assets in the continual effort to protect individuals at risk and keep human rights at the forefront of national and international issues.  
Transitions in leadership can be difficult, but we’re committed to moving forward quickly.  First, we will immediately begin an executive search process.  Second, we have a plan in place: AIUSA is fortunate that the Chief Financial and Administrative Officer, Stacey Bain and the Chief Advocacy Officer, Frank Jannuzi have agreed to act as interim directors as we work through this process.   
The strength of AIUSA and the AI movement comes from a potent mix of our tireless members, expert volunteers, generous supporters and professional staff.  Thank you all for your hard work over this past year and in the challenging months ahead. Together we will move Amnesty another step closer to securing human rights for all people. 
Thank you very much, 
Shahram Hashemi Chair, Board of Directors at Amnesty International USA
Meanwhile, look for more justifications for war on the grounds of human rights from the hypocritical and rapacious U.S. empire. And find your own facts about how women and girls are faring in Afghanistan with NATO there to "protect" them.
Source: the excellent Afghan Women's Writing Project: Telling One's Story Is A Human Right


  1. Incoming Secretary of State John Kerry has issued his first press release, asking that the growing practice of referring to him simply as "Incoming" should cease forthwith.

  2. Suzanne Nossel's Reflections

    Suzanne Nossel described her own background that inspired a lifelong dedication to human rights. “Looking back to what first sparked my own interest in human rights issues, it has everything to do growing up as an American Jew,” she said. Her mother's parents were refugees from Nazi Germany who settled in Cape Town, South Africa in the 1930s, leaving many relatives behind. As a child, she visited relatives in apartheid South Africa. “I puzzled over the disconnect between what I saw there, and the liberal values of my suburban Jewish Day School,” she said of the apartheid era. “I have vibrant memories of being mobilized as part of the movement to free Soviet Jewry, marching down Fifth Avenue into Dag Hammarsjkold Plaza and standing with thousands to demand respect for human rights. She has frequently visited relatives in Israel, saying “It's a place where I feel very comfortable and at home.

    1. Wherever Nossel lands, it cannot bode well for peace on Earth.


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