the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

October 15, 2006

Frank Wolf, Human Rights Hero? I Don’t Think So!


Yesterday the Washington Post endorsed Frank Wolf, the Republican Congressman representing Virginia’s 10th District (which encompasses McLean and Manassas and areas to the west). I didn’t get a chance to respond immediately, since I was out most of the day volunteering for Wolf’s opponent, Judy Feder, but today I sent this letter to the editor:

I was disappointed to see the Post endorse Rep. Frank Wolf for reelection [”Mr. Wolf’s Diligence,” Oct. 14], especially since the editorial described him as someone who is “more than a party-line Republican” and has a “zeal for human rights.”

Rep. Wolf’s political independence and concern for human rights were nowhere in evidence on Sept. 29 when he voted for the Military Commissions Act, which gives the president free rein to define “torture” however he wishes; allows use of evidence obtained through cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment; and immunizes senior U.S. officials from prosecution for war crimes committed before passage of the act. In addition, any prohibitions of prisoner abuse contained in the act are made meaningless by its elimination of habeas corpus rights for detainees. If detainees are unable to bring their cases to court, then even innocent prisoners can be held indefinitely and subjected to outrageous treatment with no means of bringing the abuses to light or remedying them.

Seven House Republicans chose to break with the president and their party and oppose this shameful legislation because they cared about human rights and the principles the United States stands for. Rep. Wolf was not among them. What does that say about his commitment to human rights?

If you share my feelings about the Post’s endorsement, please write your own letter to the editor right away (e-mail to and include your name, home address, and home and work phone). The more letters (different letters, not copies of mine) they get on the subject, the more likely it is they’ll publish one. Letters from people in the 10th District would be especially good. If you need some ideas, try the New York Times editorial on the Military Commissions Act, which calls it “a tyrannical law that will be ranked with the low points in American democracy, our generation’s version of the Alien and Sedition Acts”, or Amnesty International’s analysis.

Update (17 Oct): Not that it matters much, but the Washington Times joins in with an endorsement titled “Frank Wolf, defender of human rights”.


  1. But you left out the best part of the Washington Times endorsement, the part where House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi
    describes Frank Wolf as “an unmatched leader in his commitment to human rights,”.

    Yep, sort of hard to say a GOP congressman is not a human rights hero when the House Democratic Leader says he is…

    —Not Connie Kincheloe • 1:21 pm, October 18

  2. No, not hard at all. First, I’m not required to agree with every statement Pelosi makes. Second, did you miss that Pelosi said that last year? So how would that be relevant to my criticism of Wolf for a vote from last month?

    It’s great that Wolf condemns human rights violations by various governments and groups around the world, and no doubt he’s done useful work in that area. That only makes it all the more disappointing that he’s not willing to stand up against human rights violations being committed by the United States. It makes me suspect that he supported the bill not because he actually agreed with it but for political reasons, and that undermines the perception that he’s a principled independent Republican rather than a rubberstamp for the administration.

    Keith1:35 pm, October 18

  3. Yeah, a real rubberstamp, just like when he broke with his party to vote with the democrats over
    the fig leaf earmark reform that went through recently. Wolf, like the democrats, saw that
    said bill was a rule and now a law, applied only to spending bills but not taxes or floor
    amendments, and expires at the end of this congressional session.

    Like it or not, voters are not going to see treatment of enemy combatants in the same light
    as starvation in the conflict diamond regions, massacres in Darfur, repression in Nepal, etc.
    That fact, and the fact that Pelosi’s comment-whenever it was made-gives him credibility as
    well as coverage on the matter-makes it relevant.

    —Not Connie Kinchloe • 7:35 pm, October 22

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