The Torture and the Lies Continue
"He was a murderer from the beginning , and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar and the father of it."
The Gospel according to St John, VIII, 44.
". . . the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time . . .violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation , cruel treatment and torture . . ."
Geneva Convention, Article 3.
At his travesty of a press conference on April 28 Bush said "I believe we are making good progress in Iraq . . ." If the man really believes this he is either in a state of delusion amounting to terminal mental incompetence or totally in the hands of Machiavellian puppeteers who are feeding him false information. If he does not believe it, he is a liar. Your call.
Examination of the situation in Iraq shows that the Bush administration’s position is desperate. His occupation forces cannot guarantee the safety of a traveler on the only road between the airport and Baghdad city. It is impossible for foreigners to venture outside the US fortress called the Green Zone without a platoon-size bodyguard and helicopter gunships, and even then they are in extreme danger. The US military cannot provide security for citizens in the capital city of the country Bush invaded in the name of freedom or whatever lie it was that he and his fellow liars told at the time of their preparations for war. (Some squalid deceit about Iraq being responsible for 9/11 and having imaginary Weapons of Mass Destruction, wasn’t it?)
On the day Bush made his imbecilic boast about progress the US soldiers killed in Iraq were Private Robert Murray, Lieutenant William Edens, Specialist Ricky Rockholt, Sergeant Timothy Kaiser, and Sergeant Eric Morris. That’s progress?
Think about it : "Tell me, my dear, who was your daddy?" "My daddy was a soldier and he was killed in Baghdad the day the President of the United States said he was making good progress in Iraq."
In April, up to the time of that insanely perky speech, 40 other American servicemen died in Iraq and 126 were wounded. That’s progress? Perhaps Bush means it is progress when the number of dead includes more Iraqi soldiers than American soldiers.
And while on the subject of American soldiers, did you read Bob Herbert’s account in the New York Times of his talk with one of the seemingly few honorable soldiers who have been in Iraq? Aidan Delgado told Mr Herbert that "Guys in my unit, particularly the younger guys, would drive by in their Humvees and shatter bottles over the heads of Iraqi civilians . . . They’d keep a bunch of empty Coke bottles in the Humvee to break over people’s heads." That’s liberation, Bush-style, and it makes Iraqis feel secure and free and grateful to their liberators to the point that when a suicide bomber blew the hell out of Baghdad city center on May 12 the surviving bystanders threw stones at American soldiers who arrived on the scene. (That revealing incident wasn’t shown on US television.)
* * *
After he lied about the "progress" he is making in Iraq, Bush announced that "the Iraqi people are beginning to see the benefits of a free society. Nevertheless there are still some in Iraq who are not happy with democracy. They want to go back to the old days of tyranny and darkness [and] torture chambers . . . ."
Little Bubba Bush, that smirking, complacent, self-righteous, pitiable twit, must know that the Iraqi people are living right now under tyranny and in darkness and with torture chambers. The only difference is that the torture chambers are being operated by US soldiers. And he must know that hundreds of people are being tortured around the world in the cause of his "free society". Bush does not read books so cannot be familiar with ‘Inside the Wire’ by former US soldier Erik Saar who saw much of the depravity and vileness at Guantanamo Bay — but this doesn’t excuse him from responsibility for the atrocities being carried out under his orders.
Harry Truman — the model of the ordinary decent person the vulgar and ignorant Texas glitterati despise — had the sign "The Buck Stops Here" in the Oval Office. But the pathetic little wind-up dummy now sitting there relies on his care assistants to make sure that "The Buck Stops As Low As I Can Get It to Stop". Bush personally signed the instrument demoting a brigadier general for permitting the torture in Abu Ghraib, but his arrogant Pentagon manipulators say there can be no blame attached to the much more senior officers who were not only aware of the torture jamboree but tried to deny and disguise the loathsome atrocities that were committed in the name of Bush Freedom.
They are liars, the lot of them. Right up the chain of Command.
There are many examples of full-scale deceit in the recent past, including the appalling lies about how Pat Tillman was killed by the enemy when in fact senior officers knew perfectly well he was killed by his own side in a military disaster that disgraced the entire profession of arms and especially the United States Army.
The lying goes on, and we were told two weeks ago that 125 "rebels" had been killed by Marines in western Iraq, without a shred of evidence that this was so. Did that number include any of the civilians who were slaughtered when 500 pound bombs missed their targets? Did it include civilians killed when tanks and artillery and helicopter gunships pounded their villages?
According to ‘Stars and Stripes’, the US military newspaper, the recent Operation Matador was "aimed at smuggling routes and safe houses for foreign fighters arriving in Iraq through the western desert border area". It was hailed as a success by every US news outlet, except the papers in small towns in which there are relatives of the nine dead and over 40 wounded Marines. Matador was not a success, of course : it was a bloody shambles in which an unknown number of nomads, farmers and their families, anti-US fighters and ordinary cross-border food and gasoline smugglers were killed. Most of the guerrillas just melted away to fight again another day, having gained more recruits from the towns and villages that were utterly destroyed by those the civilian population now regard as the enemy : the US occupation force. But it is vital for Bush propaganda that the best possible story be told about all military operations, or there might be questioning of the Great War Leader. The mind-benders in Washington believe that to admit unsavory truth is to admit weakness. At all costs this must be avoided.
Imagine a general telling the truth if he might forfeit promotion by doing so. OK, so that’s hard. The last general who did it was the honorable Major General Taguba who seems to be one of the few honest senior officers in the whole damn’ military. He headed the inquiry into the conduct of the infamous 800 Military Police Brigade, and he tore it to well-deserved shreds. But he could not refer to or comment on responsibilities of officers superior to Brigadier General (now demoted to Colonel) Janis Karpinski because his focus was directed solely at the MP brigade. And no wonder, because the inquiry was set up by the most incompetent officer in Iraq : the Commander, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, who was not about to give broad terms of reference to an investigation that would reveal him as a bungling nitwit.
And now we learn about the vile happenings in Afghanistan since the US invasion. On May 20 The New York Times published details about vicious torture and eventual murder of helpless captives. Before the story was broken by the Times it was denied by every spokesperson and the slimy "sources who spoke on conditions of anonymity" that there had been disgusting brutality. And of course they were believed. After all, the people who suffered torture at the hands of American soldiers were by that time in the Nazi-style hell of Guantánamo Bay. And those who had been tortured to death by ordinary American boys — "Support Our Torturing Troops" — were . . . , well, dead.
On May 21 Bush declared that Afghanistan which "once knew only the terror of the Taliban is now seeing a rebirth of freedom . . . " That is freedom, Bush-style, of course : freedom for US occupation troops to torture and murder prisoners. It is unlikely the Taliban would have agreed entirely with the American soldiers who tortured citizens to death in their country, but there is a certain disgusting similarity between them. The Taliban persecuted people out of religious frenzy, and US soldiers torture people for fun.
It was a joke to these US soldiers that their helpless captives died lingering deaths, suffering hellishly for days from soldiers’ fists and feet and dogs before merciful release. The documents given to the Times include one terrifying quotation concerning one of the tortured and murdered men : "Everyone heard him cry out and thought it was funny." We are now told that the men were "young and poorly trained", as if this could be justification for torture and murder. "Oh, excuse me while I ram this broomstick up your ass, but I’m young and poorly trained". Tim Golden’s opening sentence in the Times sums it up : "Even as the young Afghan man was dying before them, his American jailers continued to torment him". Can you imagine this? Are we really talking about soldiers of the American Army? The slogan "Support Our Troops" has taken on a new meaning.
After the murders committed by these dozens of US soldiers, "Military spokesmen maintained that both men died of natural causes, even after military coroners had ruled the deaths homicides". But what else can we expect? The commander-in-chief tells lie after lie after lie, so his subordinates follow his example.
While Erik Saar is reviled and sent hate mail by rabid ‘Christian’ dumdums because he told the truth about torture, US generals are considered heroes in spite of telling lies to Congress about torture. The topsy-turvy world of the Bush zealots is revealed in all its tawdry squalor by this reversal of morality. Reveal the truth and suffer — but tell lies and prosper. The only thing that matters is the Bush vision of the world, and he must be supported at all costs. (After all, millions of Americans, including at least one three star general, believe that Bush was appointed president by God.)
The generals are not just liars. They are evil and disgusting apologies for humanity, just like the Marine who murdered – who deliberately blew the head off – an unarmed, semi-conscious, wounded man lying on the floor of a mosque. (There can be no doubt about it : there is video film of the whole ghastly atrocity.) Predictably enough, the generals protected him, and he was not charged with any sort of wrongdoing, which sends the message to the Iraqi people and the world that US soldiers can murder with impunity.
On May 5 Bush declared "They [al Qaeda] hate freedom, and they hate people who embrace freedom And they’re willing to kill innocent Iraqis because Iraqis are willing to be free. Iraqis are sick of foreign people coming in their country and trying to destabilize their country." Yes indeed : Iraqis are certainly sick of foreign people coming to their country and trying to destabilize their country. The foreigners of whom they are sick are American troops. Iraqis hate the Bush administration because its arrogant swaggering bullies in uniform break down house doors at dead of night and terrorise women and children. They hate Bush and all he stands for because his soldiers spray bullets at innocent Iraqis without fear of disciplinary action. They and the people of Afghanistan hate and fear everything about Bush because his troops have tortured and murdered helpless people. They will hate America forever. This is the Bush legacy to the world.
The fact that the US military system permitted the undeniable murder of a helpless man to be dismissed without any judicial proceedings is not surprising in the Bush era. The murderer, after all, was killing for Bush freedom. But the system was quick to deal with a young sailor, Pablo Paredes, who refused to board his ship last December to go to the war on Iraq. He was making the point that the war is illegal, and there was no question of him being a coward. In fact he knew perfectly well that the military machine would have no mercy on him. He was, if you like, the moral equivalent of a suicide bomber, because he hurt only himself. (The military prosecutors claimed he was a publicity-seeker who considered using drugs to obtain a discharge : the usual lies and smears.)
Pablo Paredes was court-martialed and sentenced to three months’ hard labor. He never told a lie to the US Congress. He didn’t pile naked people in heaps and set dogs on them. He didn’t blow the head off a helpless unarmed man. He didn’t torture an Afghan taxi-driver to death and laugh about it. He was entirely non-violent and decided to follow his conscience rather than remain under command of a proven liar.
But if you tell lies to Congress, or murder a defenseless wounded man, or torture prisoners to death in any number of hideous ways, and if you try to conceal such war crimes, you will be protected as far as the Bush machine can manage to do so, because that’s Bush Freedom and Bush Progress. Forget about abiding in the truth or following the Geneva Conventions. There’s no promotion, power or profit in taking that route.
BRIAN CLOUGHLEY writes on military and political affairs. He can be reached through his website www.briancloughley.com