Dictatorships Like North Korea Merely "In Disfavor with the U.S."?

The annual State Department report on human rights worldwide finds Helene Cooper in a familiar place - criticizing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ("U.S. Releases Rights Report, With an Acknowledgement").

Cooper, whose apparent hostility toward Rice Times Watch has documented before, leads with the U.S. (and Rice) on the defensive over human rightsby America:

"The Bush administration acknowledged Tuesday that its treatment of terrorism suspects was being questioned, even as it used an annual report to criticize the human rights records of Iraq, Afghanistan and a long list of other countries.

"'Our democratic system of governance is accountable, but it is not infallible,' Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in releasing the Congressionally mandated report. It weighs the human rights situation in 193 countries - but not the United States, and Ms. Rice did not specifically cite any American violations.

"But Barry Lowenkron, an assistant secretary of state, said the State Department was 'issuing this report at a time when our own record, and actions we have taken to respond to terrorist attacks against us, have been questioned.' He referred to American laws 'governing the detention, treatment and trial of terrorist suspects.'

"Officials from countries that are often cited in the report have complained that the United States is quick to criticize others for violations that sometimes occur in America, and the remarks on Tuesday, one White House official said, were an attempt to answer those charges. In particular, the administration has come under fire from human rights groups for its treatment of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba."

This is a strange paragraph: "China had the dubious distinction of being lumped in one section of the report alongside a number of governments that are in disfavor with the United States. That group included North Korea, Myanmar, Iran, Zimbabwe and Cuba, all herded together under a heading that read, in part, 'Countries in which power remained concentrated in the hands of unaccountable rulers - whether totalitarian or authoritarian.'"

Why Cooper singles out China as if it shouldn't be on the list is unclear from the story, and the faults of North Korea and the other authoritarian countries go just a bit beyond being "in disfavor with the United States," as if America was merely some bully-boy on the block making lists of countries it doesn't like.