FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Masters of Deception

Bush administration officials have always been a thoroughly unpleasant bunch, accustomed to silencing critics by hurling insults at those who dare to question their steady stream of lies.

Recently, however, besieged by evidence detailing U.S. war crimes at detention centers at Guantánamo Bay from sources as disparate as Newsweek and Amnesty International, Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld are showing signs of fraying at the edges, inadvertently exposing their own pattern of deliberate deception.

Such was the case when Amnesty International issued its May 26 report detailing prisoner mistreatment at Guantánamo. Visibly irked that Amnesty called the U.S. detention center “the gulag of our time,” Bush called the Amnesty report “absurd,” Rumsfeld denounced it as “reprehensible,” and Cheney claimed he “was offended” by it.

But the indignant trio merely drew attention to the administration’s earlier use of Amnesty reports on Saddam Hussein’s human rights abuses to justify its invasion of Iraq. On March 27, 2003, Rumsfeld argued, “Anyone who has read Amnesty International or any of the human rights organizations [knows] about how the regime of Saddam Hussein treats his people.”

Adding to the public relations farce over Amnesty’s Guantánamo report, at a June 2 press conference, Bush dismissed claims of torture as concocted by ex-detainees “who hate America.” “The United States is a country that promotes freedom around the world,” he insisted.

Bush’s claim came as appalling news began to emerge from Falluja, a city of 250,000 people destroyed by U.S. bombs in November 2004 that remains occupied by U.S. Marines.

“There are plenty of women in Falluja who have testified they were raped by American soldiers,” one resident told journalist Dahr Jamail. Mohammed Abdulla, executive director of the Study Center for Human Rights and Democracy, said, “There are daily war crimes being committed in Falluja, even now.”

Only half of Falluja’s residents have returned since last year’s siege. Most found their homes destroyed. They live in tents, without electricity or access to clean water, and curfews don’t allow civilians on the streets after 9 p.m.

Americans refer jokingly to Falluja as Iraq’s “gated community”–since its residents are trapped inside or outside by U.S. checkpoints. All Falluja citizens must carry security passes containing their name, fingerprints and an iris scan that can be cross checked with Iraqi detainees.

On May 29, the U.S. sponsored a new bloodbath reminiscent of Falluja, code named Operation Lightning, in which U.S. and Iraqi forces sealed off the entire population of Baghdad. Some 40,000 Iraqi troops, backed by 10,000 U.S. soldiers, set up 675 checkpoints and have been conducting house-by-house searches–detaining more than 700 Iraqis from Baghdad and 250 from suburbs south of the city.

Hundreds of Baghdad residents demonstrated last Friday, carrying signs that demanded, “Go Home American Troops.” “Even animals deserve more respect,” one woman told the United Nations’ Integrated Regional Information Networks after troops raided her home.

Earlier in May, Operation New Market preceded Operation Lightning in Haditha. A local doctor told Jamail, “The Americans are detaining so many people there, any man between the ages of 16 and 25 years is being immediately detained without question.”

This was preceded by Operation Matador in Al Qa’im, a week-long siege in which the U.S. clamed to have killed 125 followers of al-Qaeda “mastermind” Abu Musab al-Zarqawi–although local civilians and doctors disputed the presence of any foreign fighters. As one resident explained to Inter Press Service, “The fighters are just local people who refuse to be treated like dogs. Nobody wants the Americans here.”

The U.S. military is now working hand-in-glove with paramilitary forces from the so-called “Wolf Brigade”–an armed militia of 20,000 formed in October 2004 by former members of Saddam Hussein’s secret police and Republican Guard. Appropriately, James Steele, the U.S. commander working with the Wolf Brigade, is a Special Forces leader who trained right-wing death squads in El Salvador during the 1980s.

In its brief existence, the Wolf Brigade has become notorious for using beatings, kidnapping and murder to extract confessions–even hosting its own (U.S.-approved) television show “Terrorists in the Grip of Justice,” displaying bruised and battered Iraqis confessing to various acts of “terrorism.”

Since last August, the number of Iraqis in U.S. custody has more than doubled, from 5,495 to over 10,000. Most are eventually released due to lack of evidence.

This figure could be a gross underestimation. An Iraqi doctor told Jamail that an Iraqi human rights group estimates 60,000 Iraqis are in detention facilities throughout Iraq. He continued, “Of course, this only pushes people more towards the resistance, because people are eventually left desperate enough to begin fighting the Americans. People can only take so much.”

The U.S. may claim that it promotes “freedom” around the world, but its victims, if allowed, could testify to the humiliation of an entire population.

SHARON SMITH’s new book is Women and Socialism. She can be reached at: sharon@internationalsocialist.org

More articles by:
September 19, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
When Bernie Sold Out His Hero, Anti-Authoritarians Paid
Lawrence Davidson
Political Fragmentation on the Homefront
George Ochenski
How’s That “Chinese Hoax” Treating You, Mr. President?
Cesar Chelala
The Afghan Morass
Chris Wright
Three Cheers for the Decline of the Middle Class
Howard Lisnoff
The Beat Goes On Against Protest in Saudi Arabia
Nomi Prins 
The Donald in Wonderland: Down the Financial Rabbit Hole With Trump
Jack Rasmus
On the 10th Anniversary of Lehman Brothers 2008: Can ‘IT’ Happen Again?
Richard Schuberth
Make Them Suffer Too
Geoff Beckman
Kavanaugh in Extremis
Jonathan Engel
Rather Than Mining in Irreplaceable Wilderness, Why Can’t We Mine Landfills?
Binoy Kampmark
Needled Strawberries: Food Terrorism Down Under
Michael McCaffrey
A Curious Case of Mysterious Attacks, Microwave Weapons and Media Manipulation
Elliot Sperber
Eating the Constitution
September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
Mairead Maguire
Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era
Dean Baker
The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessary
Wim Laven
Hurricane Trump, Season 2
Yves Engler
Smearing Dimitri Lascaris
Ron Jacobs
From ROTC to Revolution and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
The Cannibals of Horsepower
Binoy Kampmark
A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats
Laura Flanders
History Markers
Weekend Edition
September 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Obama’s Imperial Presidency
Joshua Frank
From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction
Jeffrey St. Clair
Maria’s Missing Dead
Andrew Levine
A Bulwark Against the Idiocy of Conservatives Like Brett Kavanaugh
T.J. Coles
Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail