FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Catch and Release of Comical Ali

by DAVID LINDORFF

 

According to a report in the London’s Daily Mirror, American military forces this captured, and arrested, iterrogated, and finally released Iraq’s famed information minister, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf.

Saeed al-Sahaf, you may recall, provided a much-needed element of comic relief during the televised U.S. invasion of Iraq, repeatedly denying U.S. and British military advances, and even denying that U.S. forces had entered Baghdad when reporters were already seeing American military vehicles driving on local streets and when the sounds of battle could be heard from the hotel where press conferences were being held.

In the U.S. media, he had even earned the nickname “Comical Ali,” a take-off on the nickname of another Iraqi official in charge of Iraq’s purported (but never actually located) unconventional weapons program dubbed “Chemical Ali.”

The question puzzling me, however, is what exactly the U.S. occupying authority intended to charge poor Comical Ali with when they first picked him up. He was, after all, not torturing anybody– except with laughter.

The guy was a flak. His job wasn’t to tell the truth. It was to tell reporters whatever his bosses wanted him to tell them about the course of the invasion.

Sort of like his White House counterpart Ari Fleischer.

So was Viceroy Bremer planning on charging Saeed al-Sahaf with lying?

That would be a good one, given what we know about the lies we were all told leading up to this war by British P.M. Tony Blair, President George Bush, V.P. Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, et al.

There are two ways of approaching at this situation.

Maybe we should encourage the military to go ahead and prosecute Saeed al-Sahaf for public lying. Then we could bring that concept home to the U.S. and bring similar charges against the whole Bush administration, using the legal concept of reciprocity. That would get a jump on Comical Ali, who could be counted on otherwise to adopt the defense of lying raised last Sunday in Bush’s defense by the New York Times: “They all did it.”

And why stop there? We could go after the corporate flaks who routinely deny that their companies have engaged in malfeasance, corruption, pollution, labor law violations, safety violations, etc. Just going after the flaks for the tobacco, power and automotive industries alone for lying in public could keep an army of prosecutors busy for years.

Alternatively, maybe it would be just as well to let U.S. authorities hypocritically go after Saeed al-Sahaf alone. The spectacle of watching someone be prosecuted and jailed just for telling whoppers might conceivably jar some jaded Americans into contemplating the state of affairs we’ve arrived at here at home, where lying by White House officials has become so routine that it no longer merits any notice or comment in the media or any condemnation by the public

Sadly, it looks like Bremer and the Pentagon have realized that holding poor Saeed al-Sahaf was a no-win situation, and two days after picking him up, they’ve let him go, just another retired spinmeister.

Keep an eye on this guy, though. He had what it takes, and when Iraq’s quisling regime of compradores and U.S. lackeys is up and running, it will need someone who, with a straight face, can call a dictatorship a democracy, a colony an independent state and exploitation productive investment. If anyone can do that, it’s the guy who insisted Iraq was winning the war until American tanks were at his doorstep.

Dave Lindorff is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. A collection of Lindorff’s stories can be found here: http://www.nwuphilly.org/dave.html

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

August 24, 2016
John Pilger
Provoking Nuclear War by Media
Jonathan Cook
The Birth of Agro-Resistance in Palestine
Eric Draitser
Ajamu Baraka, “Uncle Tom,” and the Pathology of White Liberal Racism
Jack Rasmus
Greek Debt and the New Financial Imperialism
Robert Fisk
The Sultan’s Hit List Grows, as Turkey Prepares to Enter Syria
Abubakar N. Kasim
What Did the Olympics Really Do for Humanity?
Renee Parsons
Obamacare Supporters Oppose ColoradoCare
Alycee Lane
The Trump Campaign: a White Revolt Against ‘Neoliberal Multiculturalism’
Edward Hunt
Maintaining U.S. Dominance in the Pacific
George Wuerthner
The Big Fish Kill on the Yellowstone
Jesse Jackson
Democrats Shouldn’t Get a Blank Check From Black Voters
Kent Paterson
Saving Southern New Mexico from the Next Big Flood
Arnold August
RIP Jean-Guy Allard: A Model for Progressive Journalists Working in the Capitalist System
August 23, 2016
Diana Johnstone
Hillary and the Glass Ceilings Illusion
Bill Quigley
Race and Class Gap Widening: Katrina Pain Index 2016 by the Numbers
Ted Rall
Trump vs. Clinton: It’s All About the Debates
Eoin Higgins
Will Progressive Democrats Ever Support a Third Party Candidate?
Kenneth J. Saltman
Wall Street’s Latest Public Sector Rip-Off: Five Myths About Pay for Success
Binoy Kampmark
Labouring Hours: Sweden’s Six-Hour Working Day
John Feffer
The Globalization of Trump
Gwendolyn Mink – Felicia Kornbluh
Time to End “Welfare as We Know It”
Medea Benjamin
Congress Must Take Action to Block Weapon Sales to Saudi Arabia
Halyna Mokrushyna
Political Writer, Daughter of Ukrainian Dissident, Detained and Charged in Ukraine
Manuel E. Yepe
Tourism and Religion Go Hand-in-Hand in the Caribbean
ED ADELMAN
Belted by Trump
Thomas Knapp
War: The Islamic State and Western Politicians Against the Rest of Us
Nauman Sadiq
Shifting Alliances: Turkey, Russia and the Kurds
Rivera Sun
Active Peace: Restoring Relationships While Making Change
August 22, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton: The Anti-Woman ‘Feminist’
Robert Hunziker
Arctic Death Rattle
Norman Solomon
Clinton’s Transition Team: a Corporate Presidency Foretold
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Hubris: Only Tell the Rich for $5000 a Minute!
Russell Mokhiber
Save the Patients, Cut Off the Dick!
Steven M. Druker
The Deceptions of the GE Food Venture
Elliot Sperber
Clean, Green, Class War: Bill McKibben’s Shortsighted ‘War on Climate Change’
Binoy Kampmark
Claims of Exoneration: The Case of Slobodan Milošević
Walter Brasch
The Contradictions of Donald Trump
Michael Donnelly
Body Shaming Trump: Statue of Limitations
Weekend Edition
August 19, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Hillary and the War Party
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Prime Time Green
Andrew Levine
Hillary Goes With the Flow
Dave Lindorff
New York Times Shames Itself by Attacking Wikileaks’ Assange
Gary Leupp
Could a Russian-Led Coalition Defeat Hillary’s War Plans?
Conn Hallinan
Dangerous Seas: China and the USA
Joshua Frank
Richard Holbrooke and the Obama Doctrine
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail