Thursday, December 01, 2005

November 31, 2005

Those Who Can't

Nothing fancy today folks, just a few stories that caught in my craw.

The Bush administration sees itself as the world's Pied Piper of Democracy. The only trouble is the lessons they preach are undermined daily by their own undemocratic actions.

For example, when they needed a place outside the reach of US democracy and justice where they could treat prisoners in ways illegal here, they chose the nascent democracies of Eastern Europe where "the rule of law" is still, to say the least, still a shaky concept.

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29 - The Bush administration, responding to European alarm over allegations of secret detention camps and the transport of terror suspects on European soil, insisted Tuesday that American actions complied with international law but promised to respond to formal inquiries from European nations. (More)

Hell, they even used some of the former Soviet Union's mothballed Gulag prison camps. Imagine this. What if after occupying Germany the Allies had spiffed up Auschwitz and used it to interrogate captured Germans? And, just to encouraged them to talk, fired up the furnaces -- you know, for effect? Whatya think? What message do you think the Germans would have gotten from that?

So what's the lesson the Bush folk have taught the world's emerging democracies about their true feelings on the rule of law? How else can it be interpreted than this: "The rule of law is fine as long as it doesn't get in the way of political policy goals. When it does get in the way, find ways around it. If caught, lie about it."

The US just missed an EU deadline for explaining all this. The Bush folk explain that they are "still investigating." Right, the US is still investigating the illegal prison camps we set up and ran, and O.J. is still looking for the real killer.

The real reason for the delay of course is another lesson in how this administration views the rule of law and how to live with the little inconveniences democracy imposes. They furiously re-hiding those prisoners and re-mothballing those old Gulag camps.

Believe me, by this time next month those old camps will look like no one's been there for twenty years. (Hey, props, central casting, we need more dust and cobwebs, and fast. Yo! Forensics, do you have anything that gets blood stains out of cement?)

Meanwhile Back in Iraq
Since most of the prisoners we salted way in those old Gulags were captured in Iraq, that lesson in democracy was not lost on the Iraqis. Now Shiite-dominated Iraqi police and Army have been accused of imprisoning Sunni captives in their own secret prisons and torturing them there. A few weeks ago one of these secret dungeons was uncovered just yards from the US-controlled Green Zone. And, like the above US secret prisons, an investigation was demanded, promised, and ... oops...

BAGHDAD -- Iraq Iraqi government officials failed Wednesday to deliver the promised results of an investigation into alleged torture at an Interior Ministry jail in Baghdad. U.S. and Iraqi forces discovered 173 malnourished Iraqi detainees when they went into the facility on Nov. 13. Some inmates showed signs of torture, U.S. and Iraqi officials said. A U.S. general was so concerned with what he found that he took immediate control of the jail but the military has released few details about it since. (More)

Professor Cheney
Now where would the Iraqis get the idea that torturing prisoners is one of the tenets of democracy? Let me see... Oh, that's right. The Vice President of the United States of America. That's where. He's a big fan of the dark art of information extraction. Now some former Bush administration officials have uttered what others had only secretly thought.... Why hasn't Cheney been indicted for war crimes?

BBC, London -- A senior aide to former US secretary of defense Colin Powell repeated his attacks against US Vice-President Dick Cheney, appearing to suggest he should face war crimes charges. Powell's former chief of staff Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson accused Cheney of ignoring a decision by President George W. Bush's on the treatment of prisoners held in the "war on terror". Asked in a BBC radio interview if Bush's right-hand man could be accused of war crimes, he replied: "It's an interesting question. Certainly, it's a domestic crime to advocate terror.
"And I would suspect, for whatever it's worth, it's an international crime as well." (More)

Pressing for A Free Press?
Here's another lesson in freedom and democracy the Bushites are teaching the Iraqis. Any real democracy is built up an informed citizenry. And the only way citizens can be informed – as opposed to indoctrinated – is by encouraging and protecting a free press. But, like the rule of law, press freedom can, from time to time, become a nuisance and inconvenience. What to do? This will be on the quiz so take not of the answer below: .)

WASHINGTON — As part of an information offensive in Iraq, the U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq. The articles, written by U.S. military "information operations" troops, are translated into Arabic and placed in Baghdad newspapers with the help of a defense contractor, according to U.S. military officials and documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times. Many of the articles are presented in the Iraqi press as unbiased news accounts written and reported by independent journalists. The stories trumpet the work of U.S. and Iraqi troops, denounce insurgents and tout U.S.-led efforts to rebuild the country. (More)

You didn't know the US government had a Ministry of Information, did you? Well, apparently we do. It seems that the Bushites have decided that what Iraq really needs now is a military version of FOX News -- unfair and unbalanced -- to show them the correct path.

It's just one more valuable lesson in democracy for the heathen Iraqis. When the news does not suit your needs, just dress your propaganda up as news, corrupt or threaten some editors, and go into the news business.

Armstrong Williams lives! -- apparently now in Iraq.

The real lesson in all this is to disregard what this administration says it's doing. That's just talking the talk. Instead, if you want to know what they are really up to, watch their feet

As for Wilkerson's suggestion that the Bushites be indicted by the Court in the Hague for war crimes.. now THAT would be a real lesson in the even-handed application of the rule of law, wouldn't it!