"an Egyptian citizen was killed when a [US] Navy-contracted ship fired warning shots at approaching motorboats in the Suez Canal. The United States Embassy in Cairo and the Navy initially maintained that, according to the security team aboard the ship, there had been no casualties. But on Wednesday, an embassy statement said it "appears that an Egyptian in the boat was killed by one of the warning shots." – Associated Press, March 27.
That report wasn’t carried by any major US newspaper or TV channel but demonstrates the arrogance of Bush Washington which encourages knee-jerk lying, reluctant retraction when it becomes obvious that a lie was told, and making a grudging admission later. These are not just indications of dishonesty and evil in the Bush-Cheney administration : they are evidence of the deep and horrible malaise that has penetrated Washington’s officialdom. Who killed the man? We don’t know. We will never know. Nobody will ever be prosecuted for the slaughter of this Egyptian citizen. He is a non-person : just another raghead who got in the way of the United States of America. The lies about his murder by a "warning shot" didn’t work, but who cares, anyway?
It doesn’t matter that some poor Egyptian, trying to make a few cents by selling trinkets to people on passing ships in his country’s Canal (a trade that has existed for over 130 years), is murdered by trigger-happy mercenaries. It’s all part of the great con-trick, the idiot "war on terror". And it shows that the Bush-Cheney mentality is alive and thriving throughout the armed forces and intelligence agencies and among those responsible for anonymous brutal attacks which take place in Africa, the Middle East and, especially, Pakistan. Members of the special forces are accountable to nobody for what they do. These people are exempt from scrutiny of any sort, all in the sacred name of ‘security’, which is simply a cover for official permission to murder whom and when they want. (In a TV comedy series in the UK many years ago the actor playing a civil servant was asked about the Official Secrets Act which forbids revelation of uncomfortable facts. "The Official Secrets Act," he said, "is not there to protect Secrets–it’s there to protect OFFICIALS." Humor is sometimes more ironic and accurate than intended.)
US forces in Afghanistan strike within Pakistan whenever they want, and don’t imagine that the newly-elected government in Islamabad will be able to stop them. Of course Bush-Cheney Washington bawls its approval of democracy round the world, but approval stops dead (sometimes literally) when a democratic government disagrees with the Bush-Cheney line. The arrogance of US military might is made clear by one of the many recent strikes inside Pakistan:
"Pakistan lodged a protest with coalition forces in Afghanistan on Thursday after two Pakistani women and two children were killed by US fire from across the border . . . "They fired five rounds which landed in our territory and in the process a house was destroyed, resulting in the deaths of two women and two children," military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said, according to Reuters. "We have lodged a very strong protest with the coalition forces across the border."
There is no doubt that the US strike killed Pakistani civilians but the "coalition spokesman Major Chris Belcher" in Afghanistan said only that:
"We can confirm a precision-guided ammunition strike . . . 1.5 kilometres across the border in Pakistan . . . I do not have any information on any casualties that may have occurred . . . The information I have is that the Government of Pakistan was notified immediately following the strike. It is not the first time that [we] have had to respond to an imminent threat across the border in Pakistan. Every time we do, we clear that with Pakistani authorities."
Precision-guided? No doubt like the "precision-guided" Hellfire missile that destroyed a US army vehicle in Baghdad on April 13.
So the United States of America "clears" the air bombardment or the artillery strike or other savage mayhem on foreign soil AFTER the killing has taken place. That’s democracy, folks, Bush-style. Which is why America is so detested all round the world.
Washington does not ask any country for permission to carry out strikes that kill women and children who have nothing to do with the "target." It is unthinkable for the American Reich to seek agreement from a sovereign nation to blitz its territory. Last month, a week after Bush visited Africa on a failed public relations excursion, "the US conducted an attack against a known al-Qaida terrorist in southern Somalia," according to Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman. But :
Dhoble resident Fatuma Abdullahi told the BBC they were woken up by "a loud and big bang. When we came out we found our neighbour’s house completely obliterated as if no house existed here," he said. Another resident said: "Right now – in full daylight – the planes keep flying over us. They are so low that we’re deafened by their engines. We are poor civilians living in a simple town – what have we done to deserve this bombing?"
What have you done, you poor innocent citizen? You’ve done nothing, of course. But the world’s imperial power thought–just THOUGHT, mind you–that there might be some people who should be killed. It was reported that
The US said on Tuesday that it was targeting Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a Kenyan suspected in the 1998 bombings of two US embassies in Africa. Richard Kolko, an FBI spokesman, said: "Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan is on the FBI’s ‘seeking information list’ and is wanted by the FBI for questioning in connection with the 2002 attacks at the Paradise Hotel and the unsuccessful surface-to-air missile attack against an Israeli airliner in Kenya."
So if you are wanted for questioning by the FBI the easy way for the FBI to do that is to have you killed by Tomahawk missiles, which were used in this particular blitz by the US Navy.
Of course there was no question of asking the Somali authorities if the US Navy could strike inside Somalia to kill someone. And the fact that it was inevitable that Somali citizens would be killed in an attack just doesn’t matter. To the Pentagon they’re only another sort of raghead, after all. There will be no apology or even acknowledgement of this war crime, or of any other murders committed with the fatuous rationale of engaging in "the war on terror."
One of the major legacies of the Bush-Cheney administration in Washington is clear : tell lies and lots of people will believe you. Another is frightening : that even in this age of instant and accurate information there will be enough people who believe lies to make it unnecessary to tell the truth. Perhaps the worst legacy is the belief around the world that the US, formerly regarded as a bastion of liberty and equality, has become an arrogant bully caring for nothing but its own power.
BRIAN CLOUGHLEY is a former army officer who writes on political and military affairs. His website is www.briancloughley.com