So, Bush’s big, "compassionate" solution to the systemic problem of amped-up American torture and the tragic folly of his War on Iraq is to destroy Abu Ghraib Prison. Of course, he probably should have done that a long time ago. While he let the museums, hospitals, libraries and schools be burned and pillaged, he preserved Saddam’s notorious house of torture and death and turned it into his own notorious house of torture and death, not to mention a film studio for his blockbuster production of Bush’s POW Porn.
In his speech at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, America’s Great Pretzel Swallower had make-up caked on his chin to conceal his latest war injury (he was "wounded in action" when he fell off his bike while vacationing over the weekend in Crawford, Texas). But he couldn’t conceal his usual smirk or the shame he has brought upon his country.
Bush offered no exit strategy for bringing 138,000 American soldiers home, no word on the lack of WMDs in Iraq (remember the WMDs, the ostensible reason for the invasion?), no admission of his numerous costly and murderous mistakes, no news on Osama (remember him?) and no more apologies to Iraqis for the torture, let alone all the killing and maiming.
But he did show that he is acutely aware of the extreme public relations crisis that The Photos of Americans gaily torturing Iraqi prisoners poses for his occupation and reelection. His answer is to destroy Abu Ghraib "as a fitting symbol of Iraq’s new beginning." Indeed, when our Executioner-in-Chief doesn’t know what to do with something, he destroys it.
Bush wants to destroy Abu Ghraib because it’s the closest thing he can come up with to making a bonfire out of all The Photos. I call The Photos "Bush’s POW Porn," since he created it all with his inherently corrupt policies. Bush didn’t "liberate" Iraq, but he did liberate the CIA and Military Intelligence from virtually any limitations on torture.
Bush dreams of incinerating the evidence of his torture fetish in a blaze of censorship. Of course, he can’t burn The Photos at Fahrenheit 451 or 911, or at any temperature, because they’re digital. They’re everywhere. They document Bush’s Rape of Iraq. They have become one of the most ubiquitous, highly scrutinized collections of pornography the world has ever known.
Bush can’t destroy The Photos any more than Lady MacBeth could get the blood off her hands. But because most of The Photos were taken at Abu Ghraib, he feels that destroying Abu Ghraib is "symbolically" destroying the torture. His "plan" is to create a big happy bonfire of destruction (maybe with a little looting on the side) to burn away the awful images of The Photos in our minds.
It matters little that American torture of this kind has been documented in Guantanamo, Afghanistan and many Iraqi detention centers other than Abu Ghraib. Bush wants Iraqis, Americans and everybody else to believe that the sickness in The Photos is just a nasty mold in the woodwork of Saddam’s old dungeon, which will be gone just as soon as we can send in the demolition derby.
He’ll get some Iraqis to give the thumbs-up and dance around the flames of Abu Ghraib, like he got some to cheer at the toppling of Saddam’s statue (though obviously, he can’t use Ahmed Chalabi’s guys for this photo-op). Like the toppling, it will be cathartic for a few moments, but he will be destroying a piece of Iraqi history. The prisoners won’t benefit, of course; they’ll just be moved to a nice "modern maximum-security prison" (just like a good portion of America’s 2.5 million prisoners live in here at home) where their tortures can continue, probably with a lot more secrecy.
Maybe Bush also wants to destroy the old penal complex for other, less "symbolic" reasons, like because evidence is there, evidence of American as well as Saddam’s tortures, rapes, murders and various crimes against humanity. Probably there’s some evidence that would give us even greater shocks than we’ve already gotten. Perhaps even evidence of Nick Berg’s and other mysterious atrocities.
Whatever his reasons, George W. Bush should not be allowed to destroy Abu Ghraib. Even if there’s no evidence there, the building doesn’t belong to him, and it isn’t his to destroy, whatever it’s a "symbol" of. He should give Abu Ghraib back, like the rest of their country, to the Iraqi people. He should give it back with a nice wad of cash (which I wish we could take out of the Carlyle Group’s or Halliburton’s hide, but I guess it will have to come out of US taxpayers), so Iraqis can turn the place into a museum, along the lines of a slavery or holocaust museum, a Rape of Iraq museum, or whatever they want to turn it into, a mosque, a schoolhouse or a swing house. It’s theirs.
Bush, Dick, Rummy, Condi and Wolfie had no right to rape Iraq in the first place. But now that they have, they have no right to destroy the evidence.
Turn Abu Ghraib into a museum, dedicated to the concept of "Never Again!" and honoring the prisoners who died and were tortured there. Make it a tribute to their humanity, and to their families who waited so patiently, so filled with love and hope, outside the concertina wire.
© May 24, 2004, Dr. SUSAN BLOCK
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Dr. SUSAN BLOCK is a sex educator, cultural commentator, host of The Dr. SUSAN BLOCK Show and author of The 10 Commandments of Pleasure. Visit her website at http://www.drsusanblock.com
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