<$BlogRSDUrl$>

'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Saturday, July 31, 2004

Chomsky on Cole on Cutting and Running 

A few days ago Juan Cole had the following to say on Informed Comment:

if the US troops withdrew tomorrow, I'd give Allawi and his "government" about two weeks to live, after which the Deluge. And the Deluge really would endanger US energy security (say, $10 a gallon gasoline, which equals de-industrialization, if the Persian Gulf region were destabilized) and possibly open us to further terrorist attacks, with a disheveled Iraq as a base

As someone who believes that the only rational course of action for the US in Iraq is to get the hell out soon and given my respect for Juan Cole, I had planned on writing a post about the above, but never got around to it because it was going to be a long post and I didn't have the time or energy. Coincidentally, however, someone asked Chomsky to respond to this exact Cole quote on the Znet sustainer forum ChomskyChat and most of Chomsky's reply is posted on Turning the Tide. Here's the whole thing:

Juan Cole is a very serious and knowledgeable analyst, and what he writes has to be given careful and considered attention.

These remarks, at least, are almost entirely restricted to the consequences of withdrawal for the US and the industrial societies. That's one consideration. Another consideration, scarcely mentioned in these remarks at least, is the consequences for the people of Iraq, and the region generally. On that matter we have neither the authority nor the competence to say anything: it's up to them. For what it's worth, polls in Iraq reveal very considerable and apparently growing support for withdrawal of the US occupying army, apart from the Kurdish regions. That doesn't mean withdrawal tomorrow. No one is talking about that, and it isn't even technically feasible. But expeditious withdrawal, with a clear deadline, and an authentic rather than merely nominal transfer of sovereignty to Iraqis. That isn't in the cards, but not because of concerns that the region will be left in chaos; rather, because it would mean abandoning the primary and quite crucial war aim of establishing the first stable military bases in a dependent client state at the heart of the energy-producing regions, a major lever of world control, as has long been understood. The US isn't about to do that.

There are other reasons. An independent Iraq would probably take steps to gain a leading position in the Arab world, which would mean confronting the main enemy, US-backed Israel. That would mean rearming, probably with WMD, to counter Israel's. It might also lead to improving relations with Iran. Not impossible is is a Shi'ite alliance with Iran and a majority-run Iraq, which might further stimulate moves towards independence in the nearby Shi'te areas of Saudi Arabia, where the oil is. That would lead to domination of the world's energy resources by an independent Shi'ite alliance. Nothing inevitable about any of this of course, but hardly impossible. Can you imagine the US tolerating anything like this? These are among the reasons why permitting democracy in Iraq, even if the rhetoric were meant seriously by Washington and Western commentators, is hardly a likely prospect.

Suppose that internal pressures in the US, and whatever pressures exist elsewhere, led to abandonment of the major war aims, so that there could be plans for expeditious withdrawal of the occupying army and transfer of authentic sovereignty. Would that lead to chaos in the region? Or would it reduce tensions and conflicts in the region? We cannot say much with confidence, of course, any more than we could have said anything with confidence about withdrawal of Japanese armies from much of Asia in the early 1940s, or of Russian forces from Afghanistan, and many other cases. But that lack of confidence is not much of an argument for military occupation.

Noam Chomsky

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Doctors and Torture 

The current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine contains an article on doctors' complicity in the crimes committed at Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, and elsewhere:

There is increasing evidence that U.S. doctors, nurses, and medics have been complicit in torture and other illegal procedures in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay. Such medical complicity suggests still another disturbing dimension of this broadening scandal.

We know that medical personnel have failed to report to higher authorities wounds that were clearly caused by torture and that they have neglected to take steps to interrupt this torture. In addition, they have turned over prisoners' medical records to interrogators who could use them to exploit the prisoners' weaknesses or vulnerabilities. We have not yet learned the extent of medical involvement in delaying and possibly falsifying the death certificates of prisoners who have been killed by torturers.

A May 22 article on Abu Ghraib in the New York Times states that "much of the evidence of abuse at the prison came from medical documents" and that records and statements "showed doctors and medics reporting to the area of the prison where the abuse occurred several times to stitch wounds, tend to collapsed prisoners or see patients with bruised or reddened genitals." According to the article, two doctors who gave a painkiller to a prisoner for a dislocated shoulder and sent him to an outside hospital recognized that the injury was caused by his arms being handcuffed and held over his head for "a long period," but they did not report any suspicions of abuse. A staff sergeant–medic who had seen the prisoner in that position later told investigators that he had instructed a military policeman to free the man but that he did not do so. A nurse, when called to attend to a prisoner who was having a panic attack, saw naked Iraqis in a human pyramid with sandbags over their heads but did not report it until an investigation was held several months later.

A June 10 article in the Washington Post tells of a long-standing policy at the Guantanamo Bay facility whereby military interrogators were given access to the medical records of individual prisoners. The policy was maintained despite complaints by the Red Cross that such records "are being used by interrogators to gain information in developing an interrogation plan." A civilian psychiatrist who was part of a medical review team was "disturbed" about not having been told about the practice and said that it would give interrogators "tremendous power" over prisoners.

Other reports, though sketchier, suggest that the death certificates of prisoners who might have been killed by various forms of mistreatment have not only been delayed but may have camouflaged the fatal abuse by attributing deaths to conditions such as cardiovascular disease.

Various medical protocols — notably, the World Medical Association Declaration of Tokyo in 1975 — prohibit all three of these forms of medical complicity in torture. Moreover, the Hippocratic Oath declares, "I will use treatment to help the sick according to my ability and judgment, but never with a view to injury and wrongdoing."

[ ... ]

The doctors thus brought a medical component to what I call an "atrocity-producing situation" — one so structured, psychologically and militarily, that ordinary people can readily engage in atrocities. Even without directly participating in the abuse, doctors may have become socialized to an environment of torture and by virtue of their medical authority helped sustain it. In studying various forms of medical abuse, I have found that the participation of doctors can confer an aura of legitimacy and can even create an illusion of therapy and healing.

[ ... ]

To understand the full scope of American torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib and other prisons, we need to look more closely at the behavior of doctors and other medical personnel, as well as at the pressures created by the war in Iraq that produced this behavior. It is possible that some doctors, nurses, or medics took steps, of which we are not yet aware, to oppose the torture. It is certain that many more did not. But all those involved could nonetheless reveal, in valuable medical detail, much of what actually took place. By speaking out, they would take an important step toward reclaiming their role as healers.


Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Note from an Internet-Using Anarchist 

So the cover article of the July 11th issue of the NY tabloid The Daily News warns us of "Internet-using anarchists [who are] telling would-be troublemakers to decoy specially trained Labrador retrievers with gunpowder or ammonium nitrate-laced tablets in a bid to halt trains or even spur the evacuation of Madison Square Garden." The article extensively quotes from a post on a web page run by the nefarious internet-using anarchists. The strange thing is the web page in question doesn't seem to exist....

Oh, yeah, and the fair and balanced WorldNetDaily says anti-capitalist extremist Teresa Heinz Kerry is secretly funding the internet-using anarchists.

Is it just me or do the minions of the GOP seem a tad more antsy about the protests this time around?

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

The Geneva Accords 

Been catching up on my blog reading ... and I found this post from a week ago or so at Lawrence of Cyberia pretty interesting. I don't think I've seen a map of the proposed land swaps before...

Ms. Adam's Apple Gets Axed 

It's official. E&P has the story. If you haven't read the disputed column yet, I highly recommend it. (I don't normally post on stuff like this but I found this whole sorry train wreck very funny.)

You know, I also have a comment on the convention blogging phenonemon ... stories like the above are the sort of thing I count on people like Atrios to follow up on, find the links, etc. With all the first-tier bloggers writing posts about drinking cosmopolitans with Michael Moore, the second and third-tier blogs are actually more interesting right now -- which is ironic.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Ritter, The Resistance Will Win 

If you haven't seen it yet, The International Herald Tribune ran an opinion piece by former UN weapons inspector, Scott Ritter, in which Ritter makes the case that the Iraqi resistance will eventually win. Here's the article at its original venue and here it is on Znet, in case the above is a temporary link. Ritter's piece concludes as follows

The transfer of sovereignty to the new Iraqi government of Iyad Allawi is a charade that will play itself out over the next weeks and months, and with tragic consequences. Allawi's government, hand-picked by the United States from the ranks of anti-Saddam expatriates, lacks not only a constituency inside Iraq but also legitimacy in the eyes of many ordinary Iraqi citizens.

The truth is that there never was a significant people- based opposition movement inside Iraq for the Bush administration to call on to form a government to replace Saddam. It is why the United States has instead been forced to rely on the services of individuals tainted by their association with foreign intelligence services, or drawn from opposition parties heavily infiltrated by agents of Saddam's former security services.

Regardless of the number of troops the United States puts on the ground or how long they stay there, Allawi's government is doomed to fail. The more it fails, the more it will have to rely on the United States to prop it up. The more the United States props up Allawi, the more discredited he will become in the eyes of the Iraqi people - all of which creates yet more opportunities for the Iraqi resistance to exploit.

We will suffer a decade-long nightmare that will lead to the deaths of thousands more Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis. We will witness the creation of a viable and dangerous anti-American movement in Iraq that will one day watch as American troops unilaterally withdraw from Iraq every bit as ignominiously as Israel did from Lebanon.

The calculus is quite simple: the sooner we bring our forces home, the weaker this movement will be. And, of course, the obverse is true: the longer we stay, the stronger and more enduring this byproduct of Bush's elective war on Iraq will be.

There is no elegant solution to our Iraqi debacle. It is no longer a question of winning but rather of mitigating defeat.


Saturday, July 24, 2004

The Assassination of Intellectuals in Iraq  

The Angry Arab News Service recently pointed out a statement from the International Coalition of Academics Against Occupation:

Overlooked by the U.S. Press is the escalating assassination of Iraqi academics, intellectuals, and lecturers. More than 250 college professors since April 30, 2003, according to the Iraqi Union of University Lecturers, have been the targets of assassination. Among the 250 professors assassinated to date include: Muhammad al-Rawi, President of Baghdad University (July 27, 2003); Dr. Abdul Latif al-Mayah a Professor of Political Science at Baghdad's Mustansiriya University (late January 2003); Dr. Nafa Aboud, a Professor of Arabic Literature at the University of Baghdad; Dr Sabri al-Bayati; a Geographer at the University of Baghdad; Dr. Falah al-Dulaimi, Assistant Dean of College at Mustansariya University; Dr. Hissam Sharif, Department of History of the University of Baghdad; and Professor Wajih Mahjoub of the College of Physical Education.

Whoever is responsible for these targeted assassinations, the U.S. and its Coalition of Allies [ ... ] -- all of them commanding and controlling the ongoing de facto occupation of Iraq—bear an international responsibility and obligation to protect civilians living under occupation and who are protected by the 4th Article of the Geneva Convention.

I've been following this story for a while but haven't posted about it because I don't have much to add. The question is who is doing this and why, and no one seems to know. Robert Fisk recently wrote on this subject and dealt a little with the possible reasons for the killings:

Other university staff suspect that there is a campaign to strip Iraq of its academics, to complete the destruction of Iraq's cultural identity which began with the destruction of the Baghdad Koranic library, the national archives and the looting of the archaeological museum when the American army entered Baghdad.

"Maybe the Kuwaitis want to take their revenge for what we did to them in 1991," a lecturer said. "Maybe the Israelis are trying to make sure that we can never have an intellectual infrastructure here.

"Yes, you suggest it could be the 'resistance'. But what is the 'resistance'? We don't know who it is. Is it nationalist? Why should they want to get rid of us? Is it religious? The arts department has become a pulpit for Islamism. But these people are part of the university."

The easy answer and the BushCo-sanctioned answer, of course, is that the killings are religiously motivated, that they are the work of fundamentalists acting out against modernity and secularism -- which may be the case ... However, sources like the one cited above consistently stress that the situation is not nearly so clear-cut. Furthermore, Fisk suggests a connection between the systematic murder of Iraq's academics and the systematic destruction of Iraq's cultural history that took place in the chaos after the war. Fisk pointed out in a column from 2003 that those sacking museums and burning libraries seemed to be acting in a highly organized manner, not like a marauding mob:

I spotted another fire, three kilometres away. I drove to the scene to find flames curling out of all the windows of the Ministry of Higher Education's Department of Computer Science. And right next to it, perched on a wall, was a US Marine, who said he was guarding a neighbouring hospital and didn't know who had lit the next door fire because "you can't look everywhere at once".

Now I'm sure the marine was not being facetious or dishonest – should the Americans not believe this story, he was Corporal Ted Nyholm of the 3rd Regiment, 4th Marines and, yes, I called his fiancée, Jessica, in the States for him to pass on his love – but something is terribly wrong when US soldiers are ordered simply to watch vast ministries being burnt by mobs and do nothing about it.

Because there is also something dangerous – and deeply disturbing – about the crowds setting light to the buildings of Baghdad, including the great libraries and state archives. For they are not looters. The looters come first. The arsonists turn up later, often in blue-and-white buses. I followed one after its passengers had set the Ministry of Trade on fire and it sped out of town.

The official US line on all this is that the looting is revenge – an explanation that is growing very thin – and that the fires are started by "remnants of Saddam's regime", the same "criminal elements", no doubt, who feature in the marines' curfew orders. But people in Baghdad don't believe Saddam's former supporters are starting these fires. And neither do I.

The looters make money from their rampages but the arsonists have to be paid. The passengers in those buses are clearly being directed to their targets. If Saddam had pre-paid them, they wouldn't start the fires. The moment he disappeared, they would have pocketed the money and forgotten the whole project.

So who are they, this army of arsonists? I recognised one the other day, a middle-aged, unshaven man in a red T-shirt, and the second time he saw me he pointed a Kalashnikov at me. What was he frightened of? Who was he working for? In whose interest is it to destroy the entire physical infrastructure of the state, with its cultural heritage? Why didn't the Americans stop this?

If those responsible for the organized destruction of Iraq's cultural heritage are the same group as those beheading professors, does it make sense to talk about vigilante religious extremists railing against Arab sell-outs to Western culture -- Would vigilante religious extremists burn down the Baghdad Koranic Library?

Anyway, it's a testament to the extent of the failure of the occupation that it cannot provide security to the institutions in Iraq that most clearly represent the ideals of modernity and secularism.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Dirty Tricks Vegas-style? 

The thinking man's conspiracy theorist, Xymphora, has an interesting post up arguing that the Linda Ronstadt flap in Vegas was actually a Republican orchestrated dirty-tricks set up. Linda Ronstadt is a well known liberal ... I must admit I find it hard to believe that any comments she might make regarding one of the most popular documentaries of all time could cause a riot... but what do I know?

On Firing Wolfowitz 

Attaturk over at Rising Hegemon makes the case that given the 9/11 commission's report Wolfowitz's position has become untenable. Here's the link.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

DVIDS Goes Online (We Are Allies With Oceania Now ... We've Always Been At War With Eurasia) 

A few months ago some blogs, like this one (scroll down to 3/9 -- the post is from before I got my permalinks working), wrote of a new state-run news service being planned by the Pentagon that would cover Afghanistan and Iraq and, according to the AP, was "intended to allow small media outlets in the United States and elsewhere to bypass what the Pentagon views as an increasingly combative press corps".

Well, that brave new world has arrived. A one-stop-shopping place catering to the propaganda needs of small town nightly news shows across the country is currently up and running. It's called the Digital Video Imagery Distribution System, and here's its official website. As one might guess it tends to distribute stories like this more often than stories like this. Go figure.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Perp Walk 

I've been kind of blue lately so I did another piece of political artwork. It's no 'War President' but I hope some of you find it amusing. The text is from Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, U. S. Prosecutor at Nuremberg:

To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole. ... If certain acts in violation of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us.

The image is my vision of what it would look like if the gang that couldn't shoot straight got arrested by the feds. I call the image "Perp Walk" and it's dedicated to N. who thought it was a funny idea. Here's the full-sized version. And here's a thumbnail:

The Children of Abu Ghraib Redux 

Well, this story seems to be catching on a little -- at least in the blogosphere. Seymour Hersh just made some allegations in an ACLU speech that are about the worst thing one can imagine. I think Salon's War Room blog has the best post up about the "new" Hersh story. Here's their transcription of Hersh's statement to the ACLU:

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."

It's impossible to say to yourself how did we get there? Who are we? Who are these people that sent us there? When I did My Lai I was very troubled like anybody in his right mind would be about what happened. I ended up in something I wrote saying in the end I said that the people who did the killing were as much victims as the people they killed because of the scars they had, I can tell you some of the personal stories by some of the people who were in these units witnessed this. I can also tell you written complaints were made to the highest officers and so we're dealing with a enormous massive amount of criminal wrongdoing that was covered up at the highest command out there and higher, and we have to get to it and we will. We will. You know there's enough out there, they can't (Applause). .... So it's going to be an interesting election year

I put "new" in quotes above because once again this story isn't really anything we haven't already heard. While Hersh's description is more graphic the claim was already made in MSNBC's coverage of Rumsfeld's appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Here's part of the transcript:

JIM MIKLASZEWSKI, NBC PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The swearing in that opened the hearing, signaled the gravity of what was about to unfold. In his opening statement, Secretary Rumsfeld, for the first time, apologized and offered compensation to Iraqis who had been abused.

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: To those Iraqis who were mistreated by member of the U.S. Armed Forces, I offer my deepest apology.

MIKLASZEWSKI: Rumsfeld then dropped a bomb, revealing that there were more photos, even videos depicting abuses far worse than what has been seen so far.

RUMSFELD: There are other photos that depict incidents of physical violence towards prisoners, acts that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel, and inhuman.

MIKLASZEWSKI: U.S. military officials tell NBC News, the unreleased images, show American soldiers severely beating one Iraqi prisoner to near death; apparently, raping an Iraqi female prisoner; acting inappropriately with a dead body; and Iraqi guards apparently videotaped by U.S. soldiers raping young boys.

SEN. LINDSAY GRAHAM ®, SOUTH CAROLINA: We‘re talking about rape and murder here, we‘re not just talking about giving people a humiliating experience, we‘re talking about rape and murder and some very serious charges.


Look, given that this is an old story, it's pretty clear the bigtime US press isn't planning on putting it in the spotlight. Numerous blog commenters ask why this isn't a bigger story and I think the obvious answer is correct -- it isn't a bigger story because the videotapes haven't made it to journalists. It's a catch-22 situation: the government will never release those tapes without someone lighting a major fire under its ass and the press isn't interested in lighting any fires without having its hands on the tapes. Does anyone know, could the tapes be obtained via the Freedom of Information Act?

In other children of Abu Ghraib-related news, I hadn't noticed, but the source of the sixteen-yearold-boy-abused-and-beaten-to-break-his-father story in the German TV piece, Sergeant Samuel J. Provance III, is the original Abu Ghraib whistle-blower who might face a court-martial for breaking a hush order by coming forward. Here's an excerpt from the Boston Globe:

Sergeant Samuel J. Provance III began his Army career as a brush-cut idealist determined to join the Special Forces. He ended up in a military intelligence unit assigned to Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, where he heard stories about US soldiers abusing Iraqi detainees.

The 30-year-old Pennsylvania native said he grew troubled that prisoners were harassed, ridiculed, stripped naked, and beaten. He spoke out to military investigators and last month stunned the Army when he disobeyed an order and became the first military intelligence soldier to discuss the abuse with newspapers and television stations.

Provance said he broke ranks because he believed the military was trying to cover up the scandal. Now, as the story shifts away from him, his experience is quietly turning into a cautionary tale about the price of becoming a whistle-blower. Fellow soldiers avoid him. His security clearance has been yanked. And there's a possibility that Provance, who once studied to be a minister, could end his Army days in disgrace with a court-martial.

Court-martialing Provance for what he did will be heaping a travesty on an atrocity, but I guess they can always blame the travesty on a few bad apples in the military justice system...

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

The FOX News Memos 

Wonkette posted all the memos that were released by the maker of Outfoxed. A lot of people have commented on the bit about "not fall[ing] into the easy trap of mourning the loss of U.S. lives" which is a pretty incredible statement. I also thought following two excerpts were particularly worthy of scorn:

We have good perp walk video of Eric Rudolph which we should use. We should NOT assume that anyone who supported or helped Eric Rudolph is a racist. No one's in favor of murder or bombing of public places. But feelings in North Carolina may just be more complicated than the NY Times can conceive. Two style notes: Rudolph is charged with bombing an abortion clinic, not a "health clinic."

and

TUESDAY UPDATE: (With thanks to Michelle Novy in DC) SHEIKH YASSIN WAS NOT A "SPIRITUAL LEADER" OF HAMAS. HE WAS THE FOUNDER OF HAMAS, OR ITS IDEOLOGICAL LEADER.

Jim Lobe on Coke 

I've always liked Jim Lobe's stuff but I don't know the first thing about him. I see his byline I read the article, that sort of thing ... Anyway here's the beginning of a Jim Lobe article I saw on Guerilla News Network about Coca-Cola's use by proxy of child labor in the sugar cane fields of El Salvador:


Coca-Cola is indirectly benefiting from the use of child labor in sugarcane fields in El Salvador, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch (HRW), which is calling on the company to take more responsibility to ensure that such abuses are halted.

Between 5,000 and 30,000 Salvadoran children, some as young as 8 years old, are working in El Salvador's sugarcane plantations where injuries, particularly severe cuts and gashes, are common, according to the 139-page report, 'Turning a Blind Eye: Hazardous Labor in El Salvador's Sugarcane Cultivation.'

Since the 1950s, sugar production has grown in importance in El Salvador since the 1950s, and by 1971 it exceeded the production of basic grains. By the 1990s, sugar, which was produced mainly by state-owned plantations, had become El Salvador's second-largest export crop after coffee. Beginning in 1995, most of the plantations were privatized.

While Coca-Cola does not own or buy cane directly from any of these plantations, its local bottler buys sugar from El Salvador's largest refinery, Central Izalco, and distributes the soft drink throughout Central America. HRW found that Izalco purchased sugarcane from at least four plantations that use child labor in violation of the law.

Coca-Cola denied any connection with child labor in El Salvador. "Our review has revealed that none of the four cooperatives identified by HRW supplied any products directly to the Coca-Cola Company, and that neither the Company nor the Salvadoran bottler have any commercial contracts with these farm cooperatives," Coca-Cola officials said in a statement released in response to the report. The company publicly opposes the use of child labor, and its "Supplier Guiding Principles" program provides that its direct suppliers "will not use child labor as defined by local law."

Michael Bochenek, counsel to HRW's Children's Rights Division, believes the company should take more responsibility. "Coke is saying that it has no responsibility to look beyond their direct suppliers, and we disagree," he said. "If Coca-Cola is serious about avoiding complicity in the use of hazardous child labor, the company should recognize its responsibility to ensure that respect for human rights extend down the supply chain."

Thursday, July 08, 2004

The Children of Abu Ghraib 

Well, the story of the moment is that according to the German TV magazine Report Mainz, which cites two sources who are corroborated to some degree by a recent UNICEF report, the US is routinely abusing children and young teenagers in the Iraqi prison system. In particular the segment recounts the story of a 16 year old boy who was abused to break his father and of a Al-Jazeera reporter who, while interned himself, witnessed the abuse of a 12 year old girl. So far several left blogs have covered this story and linked to the German expose including Tom Tomorrow, Sadly, No (which has the best English translation I've seen), and The Agonist. WhatReallyHappened.com posted a good English summary of the German article: here it is on the Bellaciao collective's site, where it is formatted better than at WhatReallyHappened.

While I'm glad that the German expose is getting some play in the US albeit on blogs, I'd just like to point out that virtually none of the allegations made by Report Mainz are new. From the very beginning of the Abu Ghraib scandal Sy Hersh was saying things like

First of all, it's going to get much worse. This kind of stuff was much more widespread. I can tell you just from the phone calls I've had in the last 24 hours, even more, there are other photos out there. There are many more photos even inside that unit. There are videotapes of stuff that you wouldn't want to mention on national television that was done. There was a lot of problems.

There was a special women's section. There were young boys in there. There were things done to young boys that were videotaped. It's much worse. And the Maj. Gen. Taguba was very tough about it. He said this place was riddled with violent, awful actions against prisoners.

He said the above on the O'Reilly Factor in early May. Such statements should have indicated to any reporter who cared to investigate that there is a children's section of Iraq's prison system. Furthermore, the two shocking specific examples of abuse in the German report have already been covered in various English language publications and news outlets.

The story of the 16 year old boy who was tortured in order to break his father has been around for a while. Here is an excerpt from a Chicago Tribune story from May:

A military intelligence analyst who recently completed duty at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq said Wednesday that the 16-year-old son of a detainee there was abused by U.S. soldiers to break his father's resistance to interrogators.

The analyst said the teenager was stripped naked, thrown in the back of an open truck, driven around in the cold night air, splattered with mud and then presented to his father at Abu Ghraib, the prison at the center of the scandal over abuse of Iraqi detainees.

Upon seeing his frail and frightened son, the prisoner broke down and cried and told interrogators he would tell them whatever they wanted, the analyst said.

The "military intelligence analyst" cited above is probably the same source used by Report Mainz, Samuel Provance.

The story about the 12 year old girl was never publicized by such a major US news source as the Chicago Tribune but it did appear internationally. Here's an excerpt from an account that appeared on the website of ITV, the biggest commercial TV station in the UK:

The US military has said it will investigate claims by a former inmate of Abu Ghraib prison that a girl as young as 12 was stripped and beaten by military personnel.

Suhaib al-Baz, a journalist for the al-Jazeera television network, claims to have been tortured at the prison, based west of Baghdad, while held there for 54 days.

Mr al-Baz was arrested when reporting clashes between insurgents and coalition forces in November.

He said: "They brought a 12-year-old girl into our cellblock late at night. Her brother was a prisoner in the other cells.

"She was naked and screaming and calling out to him as they beat her. Her brother was helpless and could only hear her cries. This affected all of us because she was just a child.

Although the story of the 12 year old girl never broke in the mainstream US media, its primary source, Al Jazeera reporter and former Abu Ghraib inmate, Suhaib al-Baz, was interviewed extensively by Salon, wherein he mentions the abuse of another father and son:

From his cell, al Baz said he watched through the small window and saw two men stripped naked. "The boy was only about 16 years old, and then a soldier poured cold water over them. Their cell was directly across from mine." Al Baz says that the father and son were made to stand naked in front of other prisoners for days.


There are many other stories like these in the public discourse if one cares to look. Knight-Ridder reports of "a 14-year-old Iraqi with a broken arm being hurled to the ground and then mocked by U.S. soldiers as the boy wept and wet himself" and the Independent wrote of a sixteen year old boy who was subjected to a mock execution, for example.

Such stories are obviously the tip of the iceberg and clearly hint at the existence of the "children's camp" that Mr al-Baz saw with his own eyes:

There I saw a camp for kids, young, certainly not yet of puberty age. There must have been hundreds of kids. Some were released, others are certainly still there." --Suhaib Badr-Addin Al-Baz, as translated from German by Sadly, No

These atrocities have gone on too long and have got to stop. German TV shouldn't have to do the work that the American media should be doing. We need to pressure our media to publicize what is being done in our name. Where is the American expose? Hey reporters, it's easy pickings ... the facts are all there ... you just need Google and a tiny bit of goddam courage. Doesn't Sy Hersh want a hat trick?

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Nir Rosen 

If you haven't read it yet go read freelance journalist Nir Rosen's first-hand account of Fallujah after the seige that's in the current New Yorker. Stories like the above make one realize just how crappy most coverage of Iraq has been -- we all know very little of what's going on there. Also, here's a Nir Rosen (with Mark LeVine) piece posted on beliefnet.com about the state of Islam in Iraq. Its primary thesis is that the main result of the occupation has been fostering Shi'ite-Sunni unity:

Now that America has turned over sovereignty to Iraq, most of the world is talking about nation-building amid violence. A more unexplored question, however, is how Sunni and Shi‘i Muslims understand the events of the last year. What do they envision for a new Iraq?

The structure of Iraq’s politics during the Hussein years, when the minority Sunnis held power and the Shi‘a were an oppressed majority, laid the foundation for what could have been a civil war once the regime was toppled. Yet this hasn’t happened--and the reason is not necessarily encouraging. What has largely united Sunnis and Shi‘a is the increasingly intense opposition to the U.S.-led occupation. In fact, most Iraqis believe the United States’ major accomplishment since removing Hussein from power has been unifying Iraqis against what most of them believe is an unjust occupation.

Jack Shaw PI 

If you had any doubt about the power emanating from a narrow spectrum of private interests over policy decisions in the "New Iraq", here's a story in which an Undersecretary of Defense is going on little secret missions on their behalf: (from "Pentagon Deputy's Probes in Iraq Weren't Authorized, Officials Say", LA Times)

A senior Defense Department official conducted unauthorized investigations of Iraq reconstruction efforts and used their results to push for lucrative contracts for friends and their business clients, according to current and former Pentagon officials and documents.

John A. "Jack" Shaw, deputy undersecretary for international technology security, represented himself as an agent of the Pentagon's inspector general in conducting the investigations, sources said.

In one case, Shaw disguised himself as an employee of Halliburton Co. and gained access to a port in southern Iraq after he was denied entry by the U.S. military, the sources said.

In that investigation, Shaw found problems with operations at the port of Umm al Qasr, Pentagon sources said. In another, he criticized a competition sponsored by the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority to award cellphone licenses in Iraq.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

July 4 

Let America Be America Again
By Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")


Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark? 
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?


I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free?  Not me?
Surely not me?  The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again! 


Thursday, July 01, 2004

The Strong and Remarkable Leadership of Paul Wolfowitz 

Back in the "Mission Accomplished" salad days of the Iraq occupation confident talking heads used to chalk up all violence in Iraq to Saddam-loyalists, former Baathists, and foreign agitators. You could get an alternative view of the situation in columns from people like Robert Fisk but insurgency-denial was the standard story. Now of course commentators, after the turmoil of that last few months, must admit that there is an insurgency in Iraq ... Not apparently if you're Paul Wolfowitz. Wouldn't you know it, Wolfowitz is still clinging to the old line -- for instance, here he is asserting that there is no insurgency in Iraq on Hardball two weeks ago:

BROWN: Let me take it away from the insurgency or the violence, which we are covering, certainly, enormously.

WOLFOWITZ: By the way, it's not insurgency. An insurgency implies something that rose up afterwards. This is the same enemy that butchered Iraqis for 35 years, that fought us up until the fall of Baghdad and continues to fight afterwards. It was led by Saddam Hussein up until his capture in December. It's been led, in part, by his No. 2 or 3, Izzat Ibrahim al Douri, since then. It's been led by Zarqawi, who was a terrorist working for bin Laden in Afghanistan, who fled to Iraq in 2002. It's not an insurgency, in the sense of an uprising. It is a continuation of the war by people who never quit.

BROWN: But there are people there, the average Iraqis, many of whom I spoke with, who are not happy about the direction things are going and are...

WOLFOWITZ: Would you be happy if car bombs are going off every day? Of course, they're not.

It's hard to express the depth of self-delusion one must descend to in order to defend this position. The Sadrists who fended off the assault on Fallujah and waged pitched battles against US forces in places like Najaf and Kufa were "the same enemy that butchered Iraqis for 35 years"? Look one can defend Wolfowitz's words by objecting that Wolfowitz wasn't talking about Sadr's militia, but read the quote -- Brown mentions the insurgency, clearly referring to .. um .. the insurgency and then Wolfowitz states that there is no insurgency.

Actually, Wolfowitzian insurgency-denial is now at odds with the official position of Iraq's new puppet government, which is probably going to offer amnesty to the Sadrists on the implied grounds that they are, you know, average Iraqis resisting a foreign occupation, according to President al-Yawer "those who took part in the resistance against the American occupation should show they are real patriots, lay down their arms ... and construct a new future with us."

Of course Wolfowitz has always shown a unique ability to maintain positions that are radically at odds with observable experience, like when he praised one of the most brutal dictators of the twentieth century for his strong and remarkable leadership regarding human rights:

Any balanced judgment of the situation in Indonesia today, including the very important and sensitive issue of human rights, needs to take account of the significant progress that Indonesia has already made and needs to acknowledge that much of this progress has to be credited to the strong and remarkable leadership of president Suharto.*

Outfoxed 

According to Editor & Publisher, MoveOn has put together a film documenting the way in which FOX News implements its rightwing bias. The movie, Outfoxed, is supposed to premier at MoveOn "house parties" on July 18th. I couldn't find anything about it on MoveOn's website -- does anybody know anything more?

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?