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

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 03, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix the ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
Weekend Edition
December 02, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The CIA’s Plots to Kill Castro
Paul Street
The Iron Heel at Home: Force Matters
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Timberg’s Tale: Washington Post Reporter Spreads Blacklist of Independent Journalist Sites
Andrew Levine
Must We Now Rethink the Hillary Question? Absolutely, Not
Joshua Frank
CounterPunch as Russian Propagandists: the Washington Post’s Shallow Smear
David Rosen
The Return of HUAC?
Rob Urie
Race and Class in Trump’s America
Patrick Cockburn
Why Everything You’ve Read About Syria and Iraq Could be Wrong
Caroline Hurley
Anatomy of a Nationalist
Ayesha Khan
A Muslim Woman’s Reflections on Trump’s Misogyny
Michael Hudson – Steve Keen
Rebel Economists on the Historical Path to a Global Recovery
Russell Mokhiber
Sanders Single Payer and Death by Democrat
Roger Harris
The Triumph of Trump and the Specter of Fascism
Steve Horn
Donald Trump’s Swamp: Meet Ten Potential Energy and Climate Cabinet Picks and the Pickers
Louis Proyect
Deepening Contradictions: Identity Politics and Steelworkers
Ralph Nader
Trump and His Betraying Makeover
Stephen Kimber
The Media’s Abysmal Coverage of Castro’s Death
Dan Bacher
WSPA: The West’s Most Powerful Corporate Lobbying Group
Nile Bowie
Will Trump backpedal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
Ron Ridenour
Fidel’s Death Brings Forth Great and Sad Memories
Missy Comley Beattie
By Invitation Only
Fred Gardner
Sword of Damocles: Pot Partisans Fear Trump’s DOJ
Renee Parsons
Obama and Propornot
Dean Baker
Cash and Carrier: Trump and Pence Put on a Show
Jack Rasmus
Taming Trump: From Faux Left to Faux Right Populism
Ron Jacobs
Selling Racism—A Lesson From Pretoria
Julian Vigo
The Hijos of Buenos Aires:  When Identity is Political
Matthew Vernon Whalan
Obama’s Legacy
Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano
By Way of Prologue: On How We Arrived at the Watchtower and What We Saw from There
Aidan O'Brien
Fidel and Spain: A Tale of Right and Wrong
Carol Dansereau
Stop Groveling! How to Thwart Trump and Save the World
Kim Nicolini
Moonlight, The Movie
Evan Jones
Behind GE’s Takeover of Alstom Energy
James A Haught
White Evangelicals are Fading, Powerful, Baffling
Barbara Moroncini
Protests and Their Others
Christopher Brauchli
Parallel Lives: Trump and Temer
Joseph Natoli
The Winds at Their Backs
Cesar Chelala
Poverty is Not Only an Ignored Word
David Swanson
75 Years of Pearl Harbor Lies
Alex Jensen
The Great Deceleration
Nyla Ali Khan
When Faith is the Legacy of One’s Upbringing
Gilbert Mercier
Trump Win: Paradigm Shift or Status Quo?
Stephen Martin
From ‘Too Big to Fail’ to ‘Too Big to Lie’: the End Game of Corporatist Globalization.
Charles R. Larson
Review: Emma Jane Kirby’s “The Optician of Lampedusa”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail