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Posted at 3:00 PM ET, 01/14/2011

Freedom House tracking human rights or promoting liberal agenda?

By Jennifer Rubin

Freedom House, a group that tracks and monitors human rights abuses, is out with its latest Freedom in the World report. It appears that some left-wing priorities, however, have trumped accuracy.

With regard to the Middle East, Christian Whiton, a former State Department official and now a consultant, e-mails, "Iraq still apparently 'not free', according to liberal Freedom House, despite elected coalition government. It may become actually 'not free' if Iran is allowed to pull another Lebanon there, but this judgment seems to be residual bias against the freedom accomplished by U.S. arms." He muses that Iraq might have earned at least a "partially free" rating because "Iraqis actually choose their government."

It is the same story in South America. Whiton points out "that Colombia is still in the same 'partially free' category as Venezuela."

Last June, the Post editorial board observed:

Juan Manuel Santos has demonstrated that pro-American, pro-free-market politicians still have life in Latin America. Mr. Santos, who romped to victory in Colombia's presidential runoff on Sunday, has no interest in courting Iran, unlike Brazil's Luiz Ignácio Lula da Silva. He has rejected the authoritarian socialism of Venezuela's Hugo Chávez. A former journalist with degrees from the University of Kansas and Harvard, he values free media and independent courts. His biggest priority may be ratifying and implementing a free-trade agreement between Colombia and the United States.

The question raised by Mr. Santos's election is whether the Obama administration and Democratic congressional leaders will greet this strong and needed U.S. ally with open arms -- or with the arms-length disdain and protectionist stonewalling to which they subjected his predecessor, Álvaro Uribe

Although Uribe, as the Post editorial board recognized, left behind "a strong democratic system," Congressional Democrats "have "treated [Colombia] more as an enemy than friend" in reducing aid and blocking the free-trade agreement. Meanwhile, the Obama administration has turned a blind eye, or, in fact, tried to improve relations with Hugo Chavez's dictatorship, as well as the serial human rights-abusing Cuba.

It is hard not to see a left-wing agenda at work in Freedom House's rating system. Whiton deadpans: "I'm surprised they didn't downgrade Canada and Britain to the 'partially free' category since they have center-right governments." Well, let's hope Freedom House sticks to its stated mission, rather than acting as a mouthpiece for the left's foreign policy agenda.

UPDATE (7p.m.): I have heard from a few true warriors for human rights. They agree that these ratings were bad mistakes, but make a convincing case that Freedom House is generally one of the most diligent human rights organizations that rejects the anti-Israel and anti-American bent of many other groups. Upon reflection, I accept that characterization and appreciate the input. A more precise statement would be that the errors on ratings may very well play into an agenda of those on the Left.

By Jennifer Rubin  | January 14, 2011; 3:00 PM ET
Categories:  Human Rights  
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