by Jan Baughman
(Swans - May 23, 2005) It's been a tough couple of weeks for the Bush administration, its spin doctors, and its media.
First there was the Downing Street Memo of July 2002 published by the Times of London, revealing Bush's intent on attacking Iraq and removing Saddam, even though "the case was thin."
Then you had the Newsweek slip-up: The publication of an unsanctioned, unapproved article stating that the Koran was one of the victims of abuse at Guantánamo Bay. "We wouldn't dare do such a thing -- we have the utmost respect for the Koran," reassured the damage controllers. "The image of the United States abroad has been damaged," said McClelland, forgetting that it was damaged long ago when we got caught photographing stacks of naked and leashed prisoners, not to mention when we began dictating the politics of just about every country standing in the way of our quest for world domination. "We must be careful about what we say and do or people will die," to paraphrase the warning of the compassionate, concerned Rumsfeld, believing that only what his people say and do should be allowed to make people die, and hoping that if the story is properly retracted it won't have happened, even though Human Rights Watch says it did.
And just when it couldn't get worse, or perhaps to divert attention from the Downing Street memo, and the Koran in the toilet, and the anniversary of the Abu Ghraib abuse findings, the US military was exposed for photographing Saddam in his underwear, finally crossing the line of decent, Christian behavior and for once causing them to express concern over violation of the Geneva Conventions, such as the protection of prisoners of war against insults and public curiosity (Convention III, Art. 13). "The president has been briefed..." said the White House spokesman. "The president wants to get to the bottom of the investigation...," he continued on, no puns intended, wondering how to retract a story when there are photographs involved. Still, the military's underwear mishap in The Sun and the New York Post didn't rank up there with Newsweek's Koran problem for Bush, who dismissed a potential increase in anti-American sentiment in Iraq, still trying to pretend that it's democracy and not rampant violence on the march. "You know, I don't think a photo inspires murderers. I think they're inspired by an ideology that is so barbaric and backwards that it's hard for many in the Western world to comprehend how they think," he said to the many in the Western world who cannot comprehend how his barbaric mind thinks.
"...See, the only way they can survive is to -- is to try to shake our will by killing innocent life," he alleged, ignoring the Iraqi civilian death toll from the war (confirmed estimates from 21,795 to 24,735, thus far) and the Geneva Convention that says combatants (Americans not excluded) must distinguish between civilian and military objects and attack only military targets (Protocol I, Art. 48), and that civilians have the right to be free from attacks, reprisals, acts meant to instill terror, and indiscriminate attacks.(Protocol I, Art. 51)
Feeling superior about his mission in life, Bush, in his May 21 radio address regarding our "good progress in advancing the cause of freedom, defeating the forces of terror, and transforming our military" to make it "faster, more agile, and more lethal," presumably to speed up the advance of freedom, gloated that, "On Monday, I will meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the White House to discuss freedom's remarkable progress in his nation." Meantime, Bush's democracy poster child, President Karzai, "was shocked by a U.S. army report on abuse of detainees in Afghanistan, saying his government wanted custody of all Afghan prisoners and control over U.S. military operations." Prisoners at Bagram were hooded, shackled, sleep deprived, beaten -- two to death -- 27 MPs and interrogators were charged and military leaders and the administration remains unfazed and unscathed, seemingly unaware that "Prisoners of war must be humanely treated at all times. Any unlawful act which causes death or seriously endangers the health of a prisoner of war is a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions. In particular, prisoners must not be subject to physical mutilation, biological experiments, violence, intimidation, insults, and public curiosity" (Convention III, Art. 13). We'll see on Monday whose version of reality makes the front pages.
One can only hope for the global pressure on the U.S. to increase; and that the international press will continue to expose the lies and the crimes, such that one day this administration and its emperor will be exposed with their clothes off, and all of the Geneva Convention violations committed in the name of their bible and corporate agendas will be front page news in the Times of London, Newsweek, the New York Post, The Sun... if any semblance of a free press remains by then.