“Practice what I preach, not what I do” is never terribly persuasive. Yet the U.S. government has been increasingly reduced to that argument in promoting human rights. Some U.S. allies, especially Britain, are moving in the same disturbing direction, while few other powers are stepping in to fill the breach.
This hypocrisy factor is today a serious threat to the global defense of human rights. Major Western powers historically at the forefront of promoting human rights have never been wholly consistent in their efforts, but even their irregular commitment has been enormously important. Today, the willingness of some to flout basic human rights standards in the name of combating terrorism has deeply compromised the effectiveness of that commitment. The problem is aggravated by a continuing tendency to subordinate human rights to various economic and political interests.
Human Rights Watch World Report 2006