FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Tattoo Nation

by CHRIS FLOYD

Seymour Hersh, chronicler of American madness from the My Lai Massacre to Abu Ghraib, tells a chilling story of the lingering aftermath of atrocity.

As the revelations of brutal torture by the victors were first spilling from conquered Iraq, Hersh was contacted by a family member of a young American woman who had served in a unit policing Abu Ghraib, the Guardian reports. The young soldier had “come back a different person,” the relative said: distraught and angry, turning her back on her family.

The relative retrieved a computer she’d lent the soldier to use in Iraq ­ and found there a file crammed with torture porn: photo after photo of a naked Iraqi prisoner writhing before the onslaught of fierce police dogs. One of the pictures was later published worldwide and became an emblem of the dehumanizing brutality of the American occupation.

The young soldier thought she’d been sent to fight for democracy and freedom, the relative told Hersh, but it was a lie. Instead she found herself in Hell, committing crimes, violating her own nature, her sense of duty perverted by leaders who twisted it into a weapon to serve aggressive war. Since her return, said the relative, the young soldier keeps getting black tattoos, more and more of them, slowly covering her entire body ­ trying literally to change her skin.

The fate of this soul-broken, tormented daughter of America embodies the nation itself under the malevolent reign of George W. Bush. The whole country is changing its skin, trying to cloak its shame and complicity by a wilful disfigurement. Who could look on the hideous form of Bush’s America ­ the snarling faces belching rancor on Fox News; the rabid partisans oozing bile through the halls of Congress; the money-glutting religious extremists relentlessly pushing ignorance, intolerance and theocratic dominion; the corporate beasts devouring the landscape, destroying communities, writing their own laws, gorging on unprecedented profits wrung from global sweatshops, corruption and war; the somnolent, silent, acquiescent public, blankly countenancing torture, deceit, elitist rule, military aggression and the open destruction of their Constitutional order ­ and not see in all this a body politic in profound psychological crisis: traumatized, guilt-ridden, turning itself inside out in a frantic attempt to escape the truth?

And this desperation only grows as the truth piles up, fragment by fragment, dug out from Bush’s slagheap of lies. In the past month, there have been a barrage of “smoking guns” outlining the Regime’s criminality in such stark and blatant terms that even the American corporate media ­ those cringing enablers of atrocity ­ have been forced to take some notice.

First came the final report of Bush’s own inspection team, confirming, yet again, that there were no weapons of mass destruction or even any WMD programs in Iraq: they had all been destroyed 12 years before Bush’s invasion. Then there was the leak of the 2002 “Downing Street Memo,” where the UK’s war council confirmed, once again, that Bush was determined to conquer Iraq no matter what, and was “fixing the facts and intelligence around the policy.” Of course, this was old news to anyone outside the American media’s echo chamber.

For example, we reported here in September 2002 that top Bushists like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld had signed off on a plan in September 2000 calling for the military occupation of Iraq ­ even if Saddam Hussein’s regime had already been overthrown. Thus the “liberation” of the Iraqi was just as much a phony casus belli as the non-existent WMD.

Even more fresh evidence of Bush’s deliberate deception surfaced in the Washington Post last week, with a story detailing the mountain of doubts, caveats and outright debunking about Iraq WMD that U.S. intelligence services placed on Bush’s desk before the war ­ all of it wilfully ignored as Bush continued to deceive the nation about the “undoubted” WMD “threat.”

Then last week, the New York Times highlighted Bush’s murderous torture system in Afghanistan: American captors beating prisoners to death, pulpifying their limbs as part of a regimen of exquisite torments later exported to Iraq ­ including Abu Ghraib, where Hersh’s tattooed soldier entered Hell.

We have reported here in great detail on the voluminous evidence establishing that the endemic, systematic torture in Bush’s gulag was created by the White House, sanctioned by Bush’s appointed “legal experts” who ruled that as Commander-in-Chief, he is not constrained by laws against torture ­ or indeed, by any law whatsoever. Equally copious evidence establishes that Rumsfeld and selected Pentagon officials eagerly implemented the torture regimen ­ then systematically worked to block or limit investigations once the truth began leaking out.

For example, one of the low-ranking “bad apples” finally convicted in the Afghan murders ­ after extended Pentagon coverups ­ was sentenced to just three months in jail by a military court this week, AP reports: three months for helping beat a chained, helpless man to death. The message Bush is sending to his shock troops in the gulag is clear: If by some freak chance your torture duties are uncovered, you will be gently removed from the scene with only nominal punishment ­ as long as you don’t rat out your superiors, of course.

The evidence of the Regime’s culpability ­ for torture, for mass murder ­ is overwhelming. The burden of proof is no longer on Bush’s accusers, but on those who would defend his evil actions. Yes, evil is the word. The Nuremberg Tribunal called aggressive war “essentially an evil thing.” To initiate such a war ­ under any circumstances ­ “is not only an international crime,” said the Tribunal, “it is the supreme international crime,” because it carries all the others in its wake. It breaks down all barriers of law and morality, in states and in individuals, creating the necessary inner chaos ­ and physical opportunity ­ for the most abysmal perversions of human nature.

There are of course many other evils in the world, including the terrorism that Bush invokes, mendaciously, to justify an act of aggression that he planned long before the September 11 attacks. But the invasion of Iraq is the “supreme international crime” of our day. No tattoo, no new skin can blot it out.

CHRIS FLOYD is a columnist for The Moscow Times and a regular contributor to CounterPunch. His new blog of political news and commentary can be found at Empire Burlesque (www.empireburlesquenow.blogspot.com).
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chris Floyd is a columnist for CounterPunch Magazine. His blog, Empire Burlesque, can be found at www.chris-floyd.com.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

March 23, 2017
Chip Gibbons
Crusader-in-Chief: the Strange Rehabilitation of George W. Bush
Michael J. Sainato
Cybersecurity Firm That Attributed DNC Hacks to Russia May Have Fabricated Russia Hacking in Ukraine
Chuck Collins
Underwater Nation: As the Rich Thrive, the Rest of Us Sink
CJ Hopkins
The United States of Cognitive Dissonance
Howard Lisnoff
BDS, Women’s Rights, Human Rights and the Failings of Security States
Mike Whitney
Will Washington Risk WW3 to Block an Emerging EU-Russia Superstate
John Wight
Martin McGuinnes: Man of War who Fought for Peace in Ireland
Linn Washington Jr.
Ryancare Wreckage
Eileen Appelbaum
What We Learned From Just Two Pages of Trump’s Tax Returns
Mark Weisbrot
Ecuador’s Elections: Why National Sovereignty Matters
Thomas Knapp
It’s Time to End America’s Longest War
Chris Zinda
Aggregate Journalism at Salon
David Welsh
Bay Area Rallies Against Trump’s Muslim Ban II
March 22, 2017
Paul Street
Russiagate and the Democratic Party are for Chumps
Russell Mokhiber
Single-Payer, the Progressive Caucus and the Cuban Revolution
Gavin Lewis
McCarthyite Anti-Semitism Smears and Racism at the Guardian/Observer
Kathy Kelly
Reality and the U.S.-Made Famine in Yemen
Kim C. Domenico
Ending Our Secret Alliance with Victimhood: Toward an Adult Politics
L. Ali Khan
Profiling Islamophobes
Calvin Priest
May Day: Seattle Educators Moving Closer to Strike
David Swanson
Jimmy Breslin on How to Impeach Trump
Dave Lindorff
There Won’t Be Another Jimmy Breslin
Jonathan Latham
The Meaning of Life
Robert Fisk
Martin McGuinness: From “Super-Terrorist” to Super Statesman
Steve Horn
Architect of Federal Fracking Loophole May Head Trump Environmental Council
Binoy Kampmark
Grief, Loss and Losing a Father
Jim Tull
Will the Poor Always Be With Us?
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s “March Massacre” Budget
Joe Emersberger
Rafael Correa and the Future of Ecuador: a Response to James McEnteer
March 21, 2017
Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt
On Being the “Right Kind of Brown”
Kenneth Surin
God, Guns, Gays, Gummint: the Career of Rep. Bad Bob Goodlatte
David Rosen
Popular Insurgencies: Reshaping the Political Landscape
Ryan LaMothe
The Totalitarian Strain in American Democracy
Eric Sommer
The House Intelligence Committee: Evidence Not Required
Mike Hastie
My Lai Massacre, 49 Years Later
James McEnteer
An Era Ends in Ecuador: Forward or Back?
Evan Jones
Beyond the Pale
Stansfield Smith
First Two Months in Power: Hitler vs. Trump
Dulce Morales
A Movement for ‘Sanctuary Campuses’ Takes Shape
Pepe Escobar
Could Great Wall of Iron become New Silk Roadblock?
Olivia Alperstein
Trump Could Start a Nuclear War, Right Now
David Macaray
Norwegians Are the Happiest People on Earth
March 20, 2017
Michael Schwalbe
Tears of Solidarity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit, Nationalism and the Damage Done
Peter Stone Brown
Chuck Berry: the First Poet of Rock and Roll
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail