The US government gave the slave trade a boost by offering money for Al Qaida and Talaban fighters. Afghan and Pakistani war lords simply rounded up people who looked Arab or foreign and sold them to the Americans as captured fighters. The “fighters” apparently included relief workers, refugees, and Arab businessmen. The tribunals looking into the classification of Guantanamo prisoners as “enemy combatants” have uncovered numerous examples of hapless victims of a naive US government too flush with money.
The Bush administration, of course, denies that it bought its detainees, as it denies everything. However, on May 31, 2005, Michelle Faul of the Associated Press reported that in March, 2002, leaflets and broadcasts from helicopters in Afghanistan enticed Afghans to “Hand over the Arabs and feed your families for a lifetime.” One leaflet said: “You can receive millions of dollars. This is enough to take care of your family, your village, your tribe for the rest of your life, pay for livestock and doctors and school books and housing for all your people.”
Najeeb al-Nauimi, a former Qatar justice minister leads a group of lawyers representing 100 detainees who were sold to the naive Americans. He says a consortium of wealthy Arabs are buying back fellow citizens kidnapped by Pakistani gangs before they can be sold to the Americans.
More is going on here than merely unintended consequences of a hair-brained policy. The Bush administration has proven itself to be utterly irresponsible in the use of power. And it keeps demanding more power, including the suspension of our civil liberties in order to better fight “terrorism.”
Aside from September 11, an event of several years ago, the only terrorism the US has experienced is the terrorism Bush created by invading Iraq. Why are we worried about Osama bin Laden when the moronic Bush administration is so adept at creating terrorism?
Notice the pattern. Bush creates terrorism and then suspends our civil liberties in the name of his war on terror.
The real terror Americans experience comes from their own government. Indeed, consider the terror the accounting firm, Arthur Anderson, and its 85,000 worldwide employees experienced as a result of the gestapo tactics of federal prosecutors. Prosecutors used a stupid jury and a weak-minded judge to convict an entire accounting firm for the actions of the few accountants who handled the Enron account. It was completely clear at the time that whereas a case existed against a few individual accountants, no case existed against the firm itself. Arbitrary and capricious prosecutors grabbed power. The American public was so whipped up in a frenzy over Enron that it didn’t care whose blood was spilled. Just as someone had to pay for September 11–even if it is our own troops and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis who had no more to do with September 11 than the US troops who are losing their lives and limbs–someone had to pay for Enron. So the prosecutors destroyed Arthur Anderson, one of the top ten companies in the world ranked by market value and one of America’s greatest assets.
Now the US Supreme Court has reversed the conviction. The highest court says Arthur Anderson was not guilty. But how do we bring Arthur Anderson back to life and restore the reputations and careers of its many thousands of employees? Federal prosecutors effectively executed the firm and destroyed the highly valuable asset.
Don’t expect Bush, who admits no mistake, to make restitution for the criminal actions of his US Department of Justice (sic). The remedy is a civil suit by all the partners and employees of Arthur Anderson against the US government for damages. I think one trillion dollars is a good number. It is a figure demanded by justice. And it will serve the cause of peace by bankrupting the war-mongering Bush administration and applying the brake to Bush’s wars of empire.
PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS has held a number of academic appointments and has contributed to numerous scholarly publications. He served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. His graduate economics education was at the University of Virginia, the University of California at Berkeley, and Oxford University. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at: email@example.com