There are still a remarkable number of people who maintain illusions in Gen. Colin Powell, and believe he was really a “good guy” who tried his best to moderate the evil nature of the Bush administration but failed. As part of that, they actually give credence to Powell’s recent “mea a little bit culpa” speech in which Powell asserted that his February, 2003 speech to the U.N. was now “painful” for him and a permanent “blot” on his record. Of course he hid behind the claim of having “been misled about the accuracy of the intelligence on which he relied” and didn’t take any actual responsibility for what he said. This despite the fact that reports at the time (June, 2003) had Powell saying “I’m not reading this. This is bullshit,” and removing “dozens of pages” of alleged evidence.
Supporters of Powell like to claim that Powell was just being a “good soldier,” but, with apologies to German readers, the proper colloquial term for Powell’s behavior is that of a “good German.” A “good soldier” not only doesn’t have to obey illegal orders, it is is obligation to disobey them. From Powell’s role in covering up the My Lai massacre, to his speech at the U.N. which even he recognized was filled with “bullshit,” Powell has acted to promote illegal actions; in the latter case, he played a key role in moving American “establishment” opinion to support the illegal invasion of Iraq, and the subsequent deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqis and Americans. Of particular interest are statements like these which Powell made in his U.N. presentation:
“My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we’re giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.”
Such a statement takes on even more significance given today’s revelation that reports as early as February, 2002 had indicated that key portions of the “intelligence” presented by Powell were sourced to a “likely fabricator.”
Colin Powell is a free man and not only welcomed, but honored by “polite society.” A war crimes trial for his role in selling an illegal war doesn’t seem to be on the horizon. Meanwhile, another General, Iraqi Gen. Amer al-Saadi, sits in solitary confinement in a prison in Iraq, where he has been for the last 2 1/2 years. As with most prisoners held by the Americans, he has neither been convicted, tried, or even charged with any crime. Gen. al-Saadi, you’ll remember, was the Iraqi liason to the weapons inspectors, the voice of Iraq when Iraq denied having any weapons of mass destruction or WMD programs. And just what was Gen. al-Saadi’s crime? For all intents and purposes, it was speaking the truth to Powell’s lies:
“‘I have always told the truth about these old programs,’ Saddam Hussein’s top scientific adviser said in an interview with German TV last April . ‘The future will show it.’ After surrendering to U.S. forces on April 12 , al-Saadi was jailed, interrogated by the CIA and declared a prisoner of war. But his line on WMD never changed, and now -” following declarations by former weapons inspector David Kay “- it seems that al-Saadi was indeed telling the truth. ‘I’m still vegetating in solitude,’ [i.e., solitary confinement] al-Saadi wrote to his wife last month [January, 2004]. ‘[I feel] degraded.’
And although there was talk this June about the possibility of freeing al-Saadi (and other Iraqi scientists), it appears it was just talk. Although the 2004 election has come and gone, and the Duelfer report has long since proven that al-Saadi was telling the truth to the world, his freedom, and ability to speak would still be an embarassment to the U.S., and that outweighs a man’s right to freedom in this “might makes right” world.
The intimate connection between Powell and al-Saadi is part of why al-Saadi is still being imprisoned and silenced. In his U.N. speech, Powell said:
“It was Gen. Saadi who last fall publicly pledged that Iraq was prepared to cooperate unconditionally with inspectors. Quite the contrary, Saadi’s job is not to cooperate, it is to deceive; not to disarm, but to undermine the inspectors; not to support them, but to frustrate them and to make sure they learn nothing.”
Al-Saadi shot back at Powell’s slander:
“Al-Saadi described the report as ‘unworthy of a superpower,’ and singled out Powell’s charges point by point as being fabrications.
“In particular, he derided Powell’s assertions that Iraq attempts to hide secret information by keeping it moving in vehicles driven around the country.
“‘All of that is fiction,’ he said. ‘It is simply not true.’
“Saadi described Powell’s approach as a ‘a deliberate attempt to undermine the credibility and professionalism of the inspection bodies by making allegations which directly contradict their assessments or cast doubt on their credibility.'”
History has proven that every word al-Saadi spoke was true, and every accusation made by Colin Powell (“We know that Iraq has at least seven of these mobile biological agent factories…There can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more…Saddam Hussein has chemical weapons.”) was false. And still Al-Saadi rots in prison. At least we think so. As a reflection of both the way the U.S. government conceals information about the people it is holding, and the lack of curiousity on the part of the media, it’s interesting to consider what we know about the status of al-Saadi’s imprisonment. Newsweek actually ran a story in June with a picture captioned “Was el-Saadi [sic] released?”, and reported that “Former U.N. inspector David Albright said he’d recently heard credible reports that al-Saadi…might have been freed from custody,” while in this exchange which took place in the British House of Parliament in February, it is asserted rather specifically that Dr. Al-Saadi “was released by the US on 18 January 2005.” Yet the Newsweek article also reports that a “State Department official…denied al-Saadi had been freed from custody,” while in July, 2005 (i.e., well after January), Dr. Rod Barton, an Australian scientist who was a key deputy to Dr. Charles Duelfer, made a strong plea for the release of Dr. al-Saadi, which would certainly indicate that someone in a position to know still believed him to be held. Given all this, and the fact that if Gen. al-Saadi had been released, chances are we would have heard about it (and heard from him), Left I on the News considers it virutally certain that Dr. Amer al-Saadi is still being held prisoner by the Americans.
Back in 2004, here’s what then chief weapons inspector David Kay had to say:
“As a prisoner of war, al-Saadi can be held without charges until the Coalition declares an end to hostilities. Kay suggests that the Pentagon will ultimately relinquish al-Saadi and other scientists to Iraqi authorities, who may decide to indict them for crimes against humanity.”
This, of course, begs the question of what war we are talking about. Regardless of the linguistic fiction of the “war on terror,” Gen. al-Saadi was an officer in the Iraqi army, and if the U.S. declared him a prisoner of war, it was the war of aggression launched by the United States, i.e., the invasion of Iraq. And, while fighting continues (obviously) in Iraq, that war succeeded in topplng the existing Iraqi government and replacing it with a new government, which has now officially been granted “sovereignty” by the United States and the United Nations, and the United States is no longer at war with the Iraqi government, i.e., those hostilities have ceased. American troops are currently in Iraq at the fictional “invitation” of the Iraqi government, helping to stabilize the country against internal opposition. The Americans clearly have no right whatsoever (not that they ever did) to continue to hold Gen. al-Saadi. But in prison (and, presumably, in solitary confinement) he remains, his voice silenced while the lying Gen. Colin Powell walks free.
ELI STEPHENS runs the Left I on the News website. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org