Claudia Rosett sums it up here.
As if to give a final kick to the dissidents which the Bush administration has betrayed, Condoleezza Rice is reportedly going to welcome Saif ul-Islam Qadhafi, the Libyan leader’s son and chief emissary, at the State Department next week.
With the exception of Vice President-elect Biden, who has been staunch in his support of Eljahmi, the political left — Senators, Congressmen, media, and NGOs like the American Friends Service Committee — ignore or treated Middle Eastern dissidents like dirt because, too often, U.S. politics come first. The American Friends Service Committee acts especially shamefully, given its rhetoric of ‘truth to power’ but its refusal to engage or acknowledge men like Eljahmi and his peers in Iran, North Korea, and elsewhere, all the while feteing these regimes’ emissaries and leaders.
With Bush out of the way, hopefully self-described progressives can once again put principles ahead of politics and speak out for men like Eljahmi, without fear of somehow helping ‘the Bush agenda.’ This is all the more important now, because the real revenge against these brave men and women will come when Bush leaves office and Middle Eastern despots feel they can get away with it. On human rights, I’m all for giving President-Elect Obama benefit of the doubt, although I’m afraid he suffers from moral equivalency. Speaking out for Eljahmi’s immediate release would be a good way to demonstrate that ‘change’ was not just rhetoric.
And as for Saif’s visit to the State Department. Fine, engage. But until Fathi is released, Saif is unworthy of any honor. If he needs to talk, I’m sure there’s a junior officer that can be his interlocator.