ABU GHRAIB: WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
"It puts its bag on its head and it gets into the truck."
If you've watched Silence Of The Lambs, you'll know exactly what I mean by this. 'Bagging' or 'hooding' was standard operating procedure in Iraq. You cannot blame a few 'bad apples' for standard operating procedure. Hooding not only served to disorientate and distress prisoners, it also helped to dehumanise them. The process of torture began as each person was taken into custody. This was US policy, to set the foundation for interrogation during the process of detention - and the practice was also adopted by the British. Did this practice stop when the Abu Ghraib scandal broke? No. It only stopped nearly a full year after the first abuses came to light.
(Telegraph 11 May 2004) - Troops broke ban on hooding PoWs: British troops serving in Iraq broke a 33-year ban on hooding prisoners for interrogation, Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, told the Commons yesterday as he offered an "unreserved" apology to any Iraqis who had been mistreated.
(Guardian 3 Sep 2004) - U.S. Changes Arrest Techniques in Iraq: The U.S. military is avoiding once-common arrest techniques like bagging suspects' heads, the U.S. commander in charge of the Iraqi capital said, because such actions are considered humiliating by Iraqis and pushing new recruits into the insurgency.
Well, duh. Even if you can somehow forget about the moral argument, how can you ignore the practical one? This very public practice served then and serves today as a recruitment tool for rebels in Iraq and terrorists abroad.
Also note Geoff Hoon's "unreserved" apology. General Sir Mike Jackson, head of the British Army, said during the interview referenced here that: "The abuse of any individual is to be condemned without qualification. However, I would observe that if the leaders of a country, or the leaders of an alliance, talk in terms of 'them', 'the enemy' rather than treating them as people, how can they expect the lowest common denominator, the basic soldiery, to interpret it in any other way? Leadership comes from the top and soldiers at the lowest level will interpret their need to act from the guidance given by leaders. They are either well led or badly led. Ultimately the responsibility for the actions of soldiers must come back to the leaders."
Compare this attitude with that of Donald Rumsfeld, who's still busy qualifying for the troops in the field and the folks at home...
(MSNBC 13 Sep 2004) - Rumsfeld defends Pentagon in abuse scandal: Amid allegations he fostered a climate that led to the prison abuse scandal, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Friday that the military’s mistreatment of detainees was not as bad as what terrorists have done. "Does it rank up there with chopping someone’s head off on television?" he asked. "It doesn’t."
Is Torture OK for Terrorists?
(Guardian Jun 24 2004) - Bush memos show stance on torture: The most damning document is an August 1 2002 memo from Jay Bybee, then assistant attorney general, which argues that torture - and even the killing - of prisoners could be justified to protect US security. It gives the president legal authority to override rules on torture. The memo proposes a narrow definition of torture, saying it would apply only to excruciating pain. Officials tried to distance the White House from the memo. But its author was made a federal judge last year.
OK, this is a very long debate. Myself, I'd finish it with; "Doesn't using terror make us as bad as the terrorists?"... but here's the kicker - the people who were tortured in Iraq were not terrorists.
This Is Where It Gets Really Evil
OK, take a moment to study the picture below, taken in Abu Ghraib sometime in late 2003. My, my, my... doesn't everyone look ever-so-serious and ever-so-busy? Does this look like a late-night lark to you? Does this look like the work of a few out-of-control troopers who just happened to be stupid enough to take pictures of their crimes... or does this look like a professional set-up?
Prepare yourselves. The word 'abuse' has been transplanted for 'torture', but you're about to see this ever-so-useful replacement word in a whole new light...
(Salon 15 July 2004) - Hersh: Children sodomized at Abu Ghraib, on tape: "Debating about it, ummm ... Some of the worst things that happened you don't know about, okay? Videos, um, there are women there. Some of you may have read that they were passing letters out, communications out to their men. This is at Abu Ghraib ... The women were passing messages out saying 'Please come and kill me, because of what's happened' and basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys, children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. And the worst above all of that is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror. It's going to come out."
There it is.
Not so bad, right?
Why Do These Pictures Exist?
Before the Nazis started gassing Jews and other 'undesirables', they shot them. In large numbers. But bullets were expensive and manpower cost money. The Nazis also found that this practice had a distinctly negative effect on the troops doing the shooting. That's why they got high-tech and used selected prisoners to do most of the dirty work. Fast forward to the 21st century. Abu Ghraib and other US-run prisons in Iraq. Thanks to the wonders of technology, soldiers operating under the direction of the CIA (and British intelligence operatives) could torture a few detainees and show the results to many as a softener.
Hello, and welcome to Abu Ghraib. We have a few questions for you, but first I'd like you to draw your attention to this laptop. Here are some JPEGs of some fellow Iraqis being sexually humiliated. Not enough for you? OK, here's a nifty MPEG of a woman who watches as her child is sodomised. Now, before we take you for similar processing, let's get back to those questions...
Why Were These Detainees Interrogated?
The US were probably trying to find Saddam. Or perhaps they wanted to find out where these people went after choir practice. But most likely, they were after evidence of weapons of mass destruction.
Where Are The Weapons of Mass Destruction?
There aren't any. There weren't any. But my uncle Abdul once made a petrol bomb out of a drink bottle and some kerosene he soaked up with a rag. I'll give you his address. Just please stop hitting me.
Established Media: The Willing and the Whipped
By now you may be wondering why this is the first you've heard of this. I'll tell you why; it comes down to the overwhelming power of media and the Bush administration's control over it. I'll get some proof to you in a moment. In the meantime, let's be charitable and operate under the assumption that the media by and large is objective or maybe even wildly liberal...
A lot of this information reached the internet. Some of it even made it to print. But nobody took any notice until there were some pretty pictures to see:
All of a sudden, we saw - some - action (and, of course, a chase for a handy scapegoat or two). Bush had to go on TV and be ever-so-human in the hope that few enough people would remember one of his favourite moral justifications for war, that he was removing from power a man who detained people illegally, then had them raped and tortured.
Now, let's get back to the media's role...
The Myth Of Liberal Media
Even journalists who don't like what's going on in the world and work for an relatively independent newspaper have their problems. This has been the case since well before the September 11 atrocities. And beyond 'professional' methods of intimidation, there's also this to consider; any criticism that actually threatens to do damage to the Bush administration draws the attention of right-wing nuts (online, they are known as Freepers or digital brownshirts). Many journalists have given accounts of harassment, career sabotage and death threats (take Robert Fisk for example).
Then there are the editors and journalists who are equally willing - but pretty much work for the establishment. There are many players in this game, but the most powerful player is Rupert Murdoch. In the US, his strongest weapon is FOXNews (for more information about how this outfit operates, you really can't do better that the documentary Outfoxed). In the UK, it's the tabloid newspaper The Sun.
The Sun helped Blair to power and has been the official mouthpiece of the government since they came to power (except when Rupert feels that Tony needs a slap over issues like immigration or Europe). The Sun helped to sell the WMD lie. The Sun has semi-naked girls on Page 3 that feed the public editorial content. And (you'll need to scroll down on this one, but it's worth it) The Sun gave more coverage to a puppy being thrown off an overpass than it did to human beings being tortured in Iraq.
They Shoot Voters, Don't They?
I'd like to introduce you to an image that I first saw when I was 10 years old and visited Dachau. It was quite a wake-up call for a white-bread Christian boy from the Lucky Country, I must say - and it has stuck with me ever since. The image is by the artist A. Paul Weber, and is titled "Mit den Wölfen mußt du heulen" - roughly translated as "Howl with the wolves you must."
I had a lot of questions about the Holocaust, but what really puzzled me at first was how it came to be. The answer is there when you look for it. It's a slow but steady creep, and the main factor is propaganda and its cumulative effect on the populace.
I've actually had someone say to me that I should get back to him "when they start shooting people for voting." People like this should get a grip. Seriously. We're not being beaten into submission here, folks - we're being smothered. And that smothering is dressed up as love.
The Threat of Terrorism Is Real - The War on Terror Is a Lie
You must fear the terrorists. They want to hurt you. We will protect you. You must not question us, because this helps the terrorists. Who want to hurt you. We will protect you. And so on...
But who are the terrorists? The line has already started to blur, and that beating I mentioned before is yours for the taking if you'd care to step outside of a Free Speech Zone. Yes folks, if you so much as raise your voice, you become a terrorist....
(Salon Dec 16 2003) - This is not America" - "There is a pattern developing cross-country with regards to the interaction between police and protesters," says Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, president of the Miami chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). "That pattern sadly involves the police viewing protesters as terrorists and treating protest situations as crisis situations akin to war or combat."
And that's why you should care about this folks....
1. The War on Terror is a lie that will not protect you from terrorists
A Plea To Americans
You came in rather late, but thanks for saving our asses in WW1.
Again with the lateness, but you did it again in WW2. It's appreciated.
Now, if it's not too much trouble, we need you to save us from WW3.
It's going to take more than your vote. You also have to reach out to the people around you and show them what's really going on. And that's not going to be easy.
Tim Ireland, 17th September 2004
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Something Funny Happened On The Way To Abu Ghraib - © 2004