01 October 2005
The good man is of course Captain Ian Fishback, the born-again U.S. Army officer who has blown the whistle on the systematic abuse of captives rounded up in President George W. Bush's War on Terror, The New York Times reports. Fishback, frustrated after 17 months of trying to get the atrocities investigated through official channels, finally turned to Human Rights Watch -- and top Republican senators - seeking redress for the bloody dishonour that Bush has brought upon America.’
The Human Rights Watch Report is here New Accounts of Torture by US Troops
30 September 2005
But it seems clear that few in the Bush administration have read it or, if they have, then it is being ignored for not being ‘on message’.
The Board’s report asserts that Muslims in dictatorial regimes do not seek freedom as those in countries that had been dominated by the Soviet Union after World War II. The board said that unlike those who lived in East Bloc states, Muslims do not see the United States as their liberator.
Quotes from the report include:
"There is no yearning to be liberated by the US groundswell among Muslim societies - except to be liberated perhaps from what they see as apostate tyrannies that the US so determinedly promotes & defends."
“The US Government does not understand the problem. The problem isn't one of disseminating information or crafting the right message. It's a problem of credibility & we don't have any.”
“Muslims don't hate our freedom. They hate our policies. Policies matter. Mistakes dismay our friends & provide enemies with unintentional assistance. Islamists want the overthrow of the ‘apostate” regimes of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Jordan & the Gulf States. Islamists see the US as a longstanding prop & alliance partner of these authoritarian regimes.”
“US policies on Israeli-Palestinian issues & Iraq in 2003-2004 have damaged America's credibility & power to persuade. What was a marginal terrorist network has now been expanded to a broad movement of fighting groups which have been elevated to a point where they have broad public support among the entire Muslim community.”
“Muslims believe we are self-serving hypocrites. They believe we have ulterior motives that serve American interests at the expense of truly Muslim self-determination.”
“There is widespread animosity toward the United States & its policies. The war has increased mistrust of America in Europe, weakened support for the war on terrorism & undermined US credibility worldwide. The negative opinion of the US, in Arab countries has not yet bottomed out but is in fact continuing to move dynamically.”
“The creation of the Department of Homeland Security & the passage of the Patriot Act was an obsolete, Cold War-style response to the new terrorist threat.”
“US public diplomacy is in a crisis. Missing are strong leadership, strategic direction, adequate coordination, sufficient resources & a culture of measurement & evaluation. Public diplomacy could be a powerful asset with stronger Presidential leadership. We need a new vision & new structures that have bipartisan congressional funding & support.”
“A unifying vision of strategic communication starts with Presidential direction. Only White House leadership, with support from cabinet secretaries & Congress, can bring about the sweeping reforms that are required.”
The report diplomatically says that George Bush totally screwed-up the Iraq war. Citizens of every country but America, especially Muslims, saw how the Bush Administration lied about having proof of WMDs & the Ba'athist-connection with al Qaeda to justify the invasion of Iraq, which resulted in hideous deaths of over a hundred thousand civilian Iraqis, mostly children & the maiming of an order of magnitude more.
The Board’s insights into the foreign policy follies of the Bush administration are equally relevant for the blind ideologue lap-dogs in London & Canberra.
Defence Science Board Report
According to the head of Basra's Governing Council, which has co-operated with the British, five civilians were killed by British soldiers. A judge says nine. How much is an Iraqi life worth? Is there to be no honest accounting in Britain for this sinister event, or do we simply accept Defence Secretary John Reid's customary arrogance? "Iraqi law is very clear,” he said. “British personnel are immune from Iraqi legal process." He omitted to say that this fake immunity was invented by Iraq’s occupiers.’
Sinister Events In A Cynical War
29 September 2005
In fact, I'd like to take some of these cats on a field trip.
I want to get big yellow buses with no air conditioner & no seatbelts & round up Bill O'Reilly, Pat Buchanan, Trent Lott, Sean Hannity, Dick Cheney, Jeb Bush, Bush Jr & Bush Sr, John Ashcroft, Giuliani, Ed Gillespie, Katherine Harris, that little bow-tied Tucker Carlson & any other right-wing conservative Republicans I can think of, & take them all on a trip to the ‘hood.
Not to do no 30-minute documentary. I mean, I want to drop them off & leave them there, let them become one with the other side of the tracks, get them four mouths to feed & no welfare, have scare tactics run through them like a laxative, criticizing them for needing assistance.
I’d show them working families that make too much to receive welfare but not enough to make ends meet. I’d employ them in jobs with little security: let them know how it feels to be an employee at will, able to be fired at the drop of a hat.
I’d take away their opportunities, then try their children as adults, sending their 13-year-old babies to life in prison. I’d sell them dreams of hopelessness while spoon-feeding their young with a daily dose of inferior education. I’d tell them no child shall be left behind, then take more money out of their schools, tell them to show & prove themselves on standardized exams testing their knowledge on things that they haven’t been taught, and then I’d call them inferior.
I’d soak into their interior notions of endless possibilities. I’d paint pictures of assisted productivity if they only agreed to be all they can be, dress them up with fatigues & boots with promises of pots of gold at the end of rainbows, free education to waste terrain on those who finish their bid. Then I’d close the lid on that barrel of fool’s gold by starting a war, sending their children into the midst of a hostile situation & while they're worried about their babies being murdered & slain in foreign lands, I’d grace them with the pain of being sick & unable to get medicine.
Give them health benefits that barely cover the common cold. John Q. would become their reality as HMOs introduce them to the world of inferior care, filling their lungs with inadequate air, penny pinching at the expense of patients, doctors practicing medicine in an intricate web of rationing & regulations. Patients wander the maze of managed bureaucracy, costs rise & quality quickly deteriorates, but they say that managed care is cheaper. They’ll say that free choice in medicine will defeat the overall productivity & as co-payments are steadily rising, I'll make their grandparents have to choose between buying their medicine & paying their rent.
Then I'd feed them hypocritical lines of being pro-life as the only Christian way to be. Then, very contradictingly, I’d fight for the spread of the death penalty, as if thou shall not kill applies to babies but not to criminals.
Then I’d introduce them to those sworn to protect & serve, creating a curb in their trust in the law. I’d show them the nightsticks & plungers, the pepper spray & stun guns, the mace & magnums that they’d soon become acquainted with, the shakedowns & illegal search & seizures, the planted evidence, being stopped for no reason.
Harassment ain’t even the half of it. Forty-one shots to two raised hands, cell phones & wallets that are confused with illegal contraband. I’d introduce them to pigs who love making their guns click like wine glasses. Everlasting targets surrounded by bullets, making them a walking bull's eye, a living piñata, held at the mercy of police brutality & then we’ll see if they finally weren’t aware of the truth, if their eyes weren’t finally open like a box of Pandora.
I’d show them how the other side of the tracks carries the weight of the world on our shoulders & how society seems to be holding us down with the force of a boulder. The bird of democracy flew the coop back in Florida.
See, for some & justice comes in packs like wolves in sheep's clothing. TKO'd by the right hooks of life, many are left staggering under the weight of the day, leaning against the ropes of hope. When your dreams have fallen on barren ground, it becomes difficult to keep pushing yourself forward like a train, administering pain like a doctor with a needle, their sequels continue more lethal than injections.
They keep telling us all is equal. I’d tell them that instead of giving tax breaks to the rich, financing corporate mergers & leading us into unnecessary wars & under-table dealings with Enron & Halliburton, maybe they can work on making society more peaceful.
Instead, they take more & more money out of inner city schools, give up on the idea of rehabilitation & build more prisons for poor people. With unemployment continuing to rise like a deficit, it's no wonder why so many think that crime pays.
Maybe this trip will make them see the error of their ways. Or maybe next time, we'll just all get out & vote. And as far as their stay in the White House, tell them that numbered are their days.”
A blistering, poetical speech delivered by Etan Thomas at last weekend’s antiwar demonstrations in Washington DC.
27 September 2005
In this case, Iran would be well within their rights to attack the US, pre-emptively, now. The patent aggression being openly directed towards Iran, mirroring the aggression shown toward pre-invasion Iraq, under our elementary moral truism becomes a valid policy avenue for Iran itself. Inversely, if we declare that it is right for us to have security, not be under external threat, to guarantee the prosperity of our citizens, then it is also a right for the government of Iran. Ideological differences apart, dedication to our notion of liberal democracy apart, it should not be on the personal judgement calls of our leaders, or on the desires of our business communities that a regime is deemed different to us & therefore subject to different courses of action, but on our commitment to a moral integrity, based on our elementary moral truism.
What is wrong for others is wrong for us: similarly, if it is wrong for Iran to develop its nuclear capabilities, then it is wrong for us to develop our nuclear capabilities. How can we transgress the Non-Proliferation Treaty, year after year & then deem it a threat or inherently wrong for Iran to do the same?
More widely than Iran, if it is wrong for the Russians or the Chinese to supply Iran with weapons, as has been the case recently (think of President Putin receiving a mild scolding from President Bush earlier this year), then it is also wrong for us to sell weapons to nations that on any truthful indicator would fall behind Iran in terms of human rights (think Indonesia).
What is wrong for others is wrong for us: perhaps the most important area of all, at the level of the state, is the commitment to the belief that it is wrong to kill civilians, irrespective of the cause. The atrocities of Baghdad, London, Bali & New York are all hideously wrong.
But, so too are the atrocities across Iraq & the Middle East, committed by our own governments.
All doublespeak about ‘collateral damage’ aside, if we are to have any moral integrity stemming from our elementary moral truism, then the death of civilians anywhere is wrong. Whether they are targeted or not is irrelevant; & the line between targeted & non-targeted civilian death incredibly hard to discern - who can deny that the disgracefully named ‘Operation Shock & Awe’ was not aimed at the entire Iraqi population, a show of brute force to dissuade (for untold thousands, by force of death) one & all from resisting the initial invasion?’
An Elementary Moral Truism
26 September 2005
The nation's rulers needed scientists for guns, linguists for trade and economists for mistakes. History was for nuts and numismatists.
Now up pops Charles Clarke jingling bags of gold. The home secretary has promised the prime minister that he will lock away for five years anyone who "glorifies, exalts or celebrates" a terrorist act committed in the past 20 years. He does not care if glorification was not meant. If someone, somewhere takes anything that I say or write as encouraging to terror, even if they do not act on it, I have committed a criminal act.
Nor is this all. Lest any crackpot thinks he can dance up & down any old high street praising Hitler, Mao or Uncle Joe as outside the 20-year limit, Clarke is preparing a list of earlier terrorist acts that also render their celebrants criminals.
After "listed" historic buildings we have "listed" historic terrorisms. To the glorious chronicles of our island race, Clarke is to append an open-ended catalogue of listed events. They may include any acts of violence against people, property or, bizarrely, electronic systems anywhere in the world if intended to advance a political, religious or ideological cause or to influence a government.
I am told that this astonishing bill was cobbled together not by Clarke or the Lord Chancellor, Charles Falconer, who were both away at the time. The author was a No 10 wonk who was trying to think up "12 points" to put in Blair's holiday press conference pack on August 5.
The wording recalls the remit of the old House Un-American Activities Committee in Washington. It is born of Joe McCarthy out of 1066 and All That, with a dash of the Soviet Academy of Sciences.’
Johnnie, Darth & Kim will love this one.
Censorship Worthy Of Goebbels
25 September 2005
The legal fight over whether to release the remaining photographs of atrocities at Abu Ghraib has dragged on for months, with no less a figure than Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Meyers arguing that the release of such images will inflame the Muslim world & drive untold numbers to join al-Qaeda. But none of these can compare to the prospect of American troops casually bartering pictures of suffering & death for porn.
But if you want to see the true face of war, go to the amateur porn Web site NowThatsFuckedUp.com.
For almost a year, American soldiers stationed in Iraq & Afghanistan have been taking photographs of dead bodies, many of them horribly mutilated or blown to pieces & sending them to Web site administrator Chris Wilson. In return for letting him post these images, Wilson gives the soldiers free access to his site. American soldiers have been using the pictures of disfigured Iraqi corpses as currency to buy pornography.
At Wilson's Web site, you can see an Arab man's face sliced off & placed in a bowl filled with blood. Another man's head, his face crusted with dried blood & powder burns, lies on a bed of gravel. A man in a leather coat who apparently tried to run a military checkpoint lies slumped in the driver's seat of a car, his head obliterated by gunfire, the flaps of skin from his neck blooming open like rose petals. Six men in beige fatigues, identified as US Marines, laugh & smile for the camera while pointing at a burned, charcoal-black corpse lying at their feet.
The captions that accompany these images, which were apparently written by the soldiers who posted them, laugh & gloat over the bodies. The soldier who posted a picture of a corpse lying in a pool of his own brains & entrails wrote: "What every Iraqi should look like."
The photograph of a corpse whose jaw has apparently rotted away, leaving a gaping set of upper teeth, bears the caption "bad day for this dude." One soldier posted three photographs of corpses lying in the street & titled his collection "DIE HAJI DIE." The soldiers take pride, even joy, in displaying the dead.’
And we think we’re winning.
Iraq War Pornography