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June 24, 2005

Iraq. Where terrorists go to train.

I wonder if it's also where "America" is going to die?

Just like in Vietnam, the Americans have no meaningful intelligence on the resistance. It's a massive, American strategic, cultural and linguistic failure. That's why American "counterinsurgency" in Iraq these days is reduced to supporting militias nested in the Interior Ministry - "Rumsfeld's boys", as they are known - as well as operations conducted by El Salvador-style death squads. There's no way this will win Sunni Arab hearts and minds. For most Sunni Arabs, from the simply alienated to the terrified, most of them impoverished to sub-Saharan conditions, the American presence - in the form of awesome firepower - only means death and destruction.

Sometimes I think we kind of suck.

Not just of Iraq. My increasing familiarity with our military and so-called 'diplomatic' history discourages me.

It's because Iraq isn't an anomaly, not entirely. It's because, as I came to realize some time back, we're only the "good guys" because so much of the rest of the world is so much, and so appallingly worse than us.

(I mean, am I being naive when I think it just isn't good enough to be less evil than we might be?)

Sigh. Moving on through the headlines....

No wonder we're especially hostile to the U.N. at the moment.

UNITED Nations human rights experts yesterday said they had reliable accounts of inmates being tortured at Guantanamo Bay and accused the United States of hindering their attempts to visit detainees at the US naval base in Cuba.

The four independent experts said the US had not responded to numerous requests to check the condition of terrorist suspects at the camp. They said their request for a visit was "based on information, from reliable sources, of serious allegations of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees, arbitrary detention, violations of their right to health and their due process rights".

The experts, who report to UN bodies on different human rights issues, have been trying to visit Guantanamo since early 2002. They said they had yet to hear back from Washington on their latest request - made a year ago and renewed in mid-April - to visit the camp. A US spokeswoman said the request was still being reviewed.

I wonder if we've decided to try and discredit the U.N. in the eyes of the rightwingnuts before they can confirm that yes, the USofA is, indeed, torturing people?

You do realize, don't you, that if they create a successful campaign of propaganda around how corrupt and useless the U.N. is, then the rightwingnuts won't believe anything the U.N. says, don't you?

I mean, at first I assumed we were stalling to get things cleaned up before the human rights team saw the place, but I just realized (I'm so slow....) that we have no intention of cleaning things up and even if we did, the prisoners left there would still be able to tell the U.N. what happened before, so the only thing we can do is to stonewall and undercut the U.N. Human Rights experts.

When they announce that, yes, we waged an illegal war and, by the way, torturing prisoners, no matter what semantic tricks you play to pretend they aren't prisoners, is also illegal, the freeper types are going to scream that the report is revenge for our talk about U.N. corruption.

And the corporate-owned soul of the MSM is going to report the freeper outrage as though it's a rational and reasoned rebuttal of the U.N.'s report. And at least 50% of the people who read about this in the paper or hear about it on the evening news are going to believe it, because "it must be true, or they wouldn't say it."

I've been thinking about Eric Alterman's lastest Think Again column, too.

The Department of Homeland Security's Transportation Security Administration plans to disclose in the Federal Register that the agency has collected personal data about airline travelers. This took place in spite of a congressional ban and the agency's promise not to do so. The administration, apparently, considers itself to be outside of laws passed by Congress and unbound by its own promises.

The more I read this stuff, the more discouraged I become about our future.

The Register's investigation also discovered that the Act's definition has grown so elastic that when the authorities are hunting for a terrorist suspect and make an arrest for other reasons, the case is still logged as "anti-terrorism." In an almost comical aside, we learn this expansion of the definition has swept into its net "College entrance-exam cheaters, check forgers, sham husbands and those who overstay visas." What's more, records show that officials at the Justice Department have instructed federal prosecutors to catalog their work in ways that inflate the number of terrorism investigations.

By the time we get rid of these maniacs in the White House, this kind of fraud and invasion of privacy will be more the norm than a shocking exception. How are we ever going to be able to rebuild a free society based, among other things, on the principle of, "innocent until proven guilty"?

I don't even know where we can go from here. I tell myself, maybe things had to get this bad before the complacent mass of society started to sit up and take notice, before real change could appear, but I don't believe it. As soon as the headlines disappear, people will go back to their lives.

If the Rove P.R. machine works, it's not even out of the question that the vast, ignorant herd of voters would elect another wingnut.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:05 AM