Context


Cherif Kouachi , on the left and his brother Said

Cherif Kouachi , on the left and his brother Said

This is not an excuse it’s offered to show what made Cherif Kouachi and his brother do such a terrorist type attack on the soul of France.  It like most things that deal with the Middle East, has a history and Cherif Kouachi’s history began with Abu Ghraib; you know that awful part of American history we’d much rather forget and which has been sanitized by media because it was so inhumane and dastardly.  The pictures revealed weren’t even the tip of the iceberg; there were some far more brutal that dealt with rape and bestiality of prisoners…..men, women and children.  In fact they are so bad that the Obama administration has refused to release the remaining ones for fear they would inflame public passions and spark an international outcry.  Abu Ghraib is something we want to forget but the people of Iraq…..God bless them and those who went there like Cherif Kouachi aren’t probably going to forget anytime soon.  Oh forgive, no doubt, American largesse will make them but those like Cherif  who aren’t likely to partake in the purchased conspiracy of silence aren’t going to.

We have this illusion that we, America can do no wrong…that we are the beacon of light for civilization and if we do anything criminal it’s for a greater good or could never equal what others far more barbaric and uncivilized than us could do.  We’re good at setting up false equivalences, but Kouachi no doubt heard it all when he was in Mesopotamia in 2011 and he seethed.  We’ve written about France a lot here on the pages of Miscellany101 and how it’s false claims of liberty and equality are nothing more than sticks they used to beat secularism into their subjects…..Christian, Muslim or Jewish.  For Muslims however there has been a steady eroding of rights to practice their religion, especially for women, like nothing seen since the days surrounding World War II. That fact no doubt also had a lot to do with Cherif’s destructive anger; unemployed and living with or knowing women who might have felt hampered by their government to practice their religion was enough to make him teeter on the edge….until he saw these..

 

 

As you can see they vary in obscenity and many of you depending on your daily diet of murder, mayhem and pornography probably don’t find any of them offensive.  I remember back in the day when the crucifix was submerged in a bottle of what was said to be urine and many people in government were up in arms about that and wanted to cut funding to the arts.  No, it’s not the same thing as what happened in France, not even close, but it underscores the fact that people are entitled to have their religious figures, symbols respected.  Now lest you think I’m trying to make excuses, I tweeted before even seeing these cartoons ‘Did they have the right to publish the cartoons? Yes. Are they offensive? Yes! Should Muslims protest and create acts of violence? No!’…..and quite frankly I stand by that position but before you go off all high and mighty about the right to free speech, think about what you would do if someone willfully posted pictures of your beloved family member for all the world to see and claim to do it in the name of freedom of speech…..

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The new Abu Gharib


abu_graibh1When I first heard this news I tweeted, “Abu Gharib anyone” because it certainly seemed to take on the genocidal nature of that infamous, barbaric place in Iraqi/American history when people were rounded up indiscriminately into one central place and tortured, raped and murdered for no apparent reason than someone said they should.  That’s what military dictators do; fascism by nature quells even the aspiration to disagree with the State’s oppression, much less demonstrate against it as the people in Egypt are now doing; so killing that desire is most easily accomplished by killing the people who long for it.  Whatever you think of what’s happening in Egypt today, the fact that for far too many people it’s ok to kill, murder political opponents and especially those with a reasonable grievance for their dissent, is nothing short of genocide.

The Egyptian government acknowledged that its security forces had killed 36 Islamists in its custody Sunday, as the military leaders and the country’s Islamists vowed to keep up their fight over Egypt’s future.

An injured member of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporter of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi is carried by members of the police and the army after they cleared Rabaa Adawiya Square. (Reuters)

An injured member of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporter of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi is carried by members of the police and the army after they cleared Rabaa Adawiya Square. (Reuters)

The news of the deaths came on a day in which there appeared to be a pause in the street battles that have claimed more than 1,000 lives in recent days, most of them Islamists and their supporters gunned down by security forces. The Islamists took measures on Sunday to avoid confrontations, including canceling several protests of the military’s ouster of a democratically elected Islamist-led government.

While confirming the killings of the detainees on Sunday, the Ministry of the Interior said the deaths were the consequence of an escape attempt by Islamist prisoners. But officials of the main Islamist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, described the deaths as “assassinations,” and claimed that the victims, which it said numbered 52, had been shot and tear-gassed through the windows of a locked prison van.

The government offered conflicting details throughout the day, once saying the detainees had suffocated to death in the van from tear gas to suppress an escape attempt, but later insisting that the Islamists died in a prison where they were taken.

In either case, the deaths were the fourth mass killing of civilians since the military took control on July 3, but the first time those killed were in government custody at the time.

The Islamists, followers of the once-banned Muslim Brotherhood, have vowed to continue their protests, both against the military’s ouster of President Mohamed Morsi and the violence of recent days that started with the bloody crackdown on Brotherhood sit-ins that left hundreds dead.

Although it appeared that security forces were more restrained on Sunday — with no immediate reports of killings in the streets — Maj. Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, the country’s military leader, spoke out on national television in defiant and uncompromising tones, condemning the Islamists again as “terrorists,” but promising to restore democracy to the country.

The government has been pursuing a relentless campaign to paint the Islamists as pursuing violence, and has increasingly lashed out at journalists who do not echo that line, especially the foreign media.

This is what America has decided is far more important to have in power in Egypt than the Morsi government.  Whatever you may think of what Morsi did or did not do, he was not accused of mass murder of his political opponents or targeting of foreign journalists.  Our identification with such a regime can only forebode dire political consequences for America and Egypt in the future, near or far.  We have a name for that…..blowback.

They Hate us because we are evil


The conventional wisdom for the last several years is that we are dealing with an implacable enemy who is spiritless, evil, murderous and hates us because of what we stand for.  They are the holders of an irrational ideology that causes them to murder and plunder and they do it all because they don’t like that we are the bulwark between them and anarchy or chaos.  The only way to deal with such an opponent, so goes the extended logic, is to kill them wherever they are, to spare no quarter, until we eliminate all of them.  This sounds much like the same rhetoric used in every other campaign of genocide waged by the self-righteous who want to get rid of people who really aren’t foes or threats but against whom the most vicious incendiary language is directed to justify the righteous’ murder and torture.

It has now come to light that we did just that….murder and torture, and it wasn’t because of anything “they” did, but rather something within us that caused nationwide amnesia to the rule of law, sanity, international relations and all the other historical lessons we have taught over the decades but haven’t learned about tyranny and how to fight it.  This lapse of an American  national conscious caused the death of far more Americans than those who died at the hands of the “terrorists” on 911, that according to an interrogator in Iraq.

“The reason why foreign fighters joined al-Qa’ida in Iraq was overwhelmingly because of abuses at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib and not Islamic ideology,” says Major Matthew Alexander, who personally conducted 300 interrogations of prisoners in Iraq. It was the team led by Major Alexander [a named assumed for security reasons] that obtained the information that led to the US military being able to locate Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of al-Qa’ida in Iraq. Zarqawi was then killed by bombs dropped by two US aircraft on the farm where he was hiding outside Baghdad on 7 June 2006. Major Alexander said that he learnt where Zarqawi was during a six-hour interrogation of a prisoner with whom he established relations of trust.

Major Alexander’s attitude to torture by the US is a combination of moral outrage and professional contempt. “It plays into the hands of al-Qa’ida in Iraq because it shows us up as hypocrites when we talk about human rights”

The stain of legal contempt and immorality in this phony war on terror can only be removed by the application of the law against those who need to be in the words of President Bush, ‘brought to justice’. No amount of bullying, or phony displays of patriotism to selective passages of the Constitution and/or the writings of the Founding Fathers should hide the fact that we, America, alone are responsible for fixing this problem. A mentally challenged president was able to whip up fervor among the people of America to fight an enemy of his own creation and the country responded resoundingly. Why hasn’t an even more intelligent and gifted president not appealed to the soul of the nation that justice must be served against criminals, even those in our midst?  The existence of this country is at stake.  The further we descend into the abyss of lawlessness, the easier it becomes for us to become victimized by groups and nations of the world who have seized upon our hypocrisy to unite others against us.  Leaders would be able to stall this inevitability and stop it with such a declaration.  Mr. Obama, are you listening?

Obama Continues to disappoint


President Obama has many issues but the ones dealing with his approach to the phony war on terror, torture and armed conflicts that he is escalating continue to baffle and upset me.  Now he has petitioned the US Supreme Court to suppress release of pictures taken at Abu Ghraib which show torture and prisoner abuse.  I understand why he doesn’t want them released; it would force his hand to prosecute those who would be clearly shown violating every conceivable law in the books, our books as well as international treaties we’ve sworn to uphold and protect.  However, he can’t give that as a reason for asking they not to be released so instead he chose this:

“there are nearly 200,000 Americans who are serving in harm’s way, and I have a solemn responsibility for their safety as Commander-in-Chief. It is my judgment … that releasing these photos would inflame anti-American opinion and allow our enemies to paint United States troops with a broad, damning and inaccurate brush, thereby endangering them in theaters of war.”

Obama was forced to petition the high court after  a lower court ruled the photos should be released  ignoring the pleas by some in government that their release would imperil US personnel.  The courts have sided with those who cite the Freedom of Information Act which they say requires, or mandates the release of such pictures.

Obama’s petition to block the release is an about face from his earlier position where he called for their release.  He has decided to escalate US involvement in Afghanistan and is using that escalation as an excuse for keeping the pictures locked up but he goes on to say with a straight face,  ‘Any abuse of detainees is unacceptable. It is against our values. It endangers our security. It will not be tolerated.’

If abuse won’t be tolerated Mr. President, prosecute to the fullest extent of the law those who carried it out as well as those who ordered it.  I assert the photos should imperil the freedom and liberty of those who are engaged in the abuse chronicled therein or who were responsible for it.  If he is worried about inflaming anti-American opinion, correct those anti-American notions by restoring the rule of law and showing the world we apply that law equally to all even when it hits close to home and involves members of American government.  If he’s worried about negative opinions of American foreign policy he should  curtail America’s wars of aggression and remove American troops from foreign lands that pose no direct threat to American personnel or American interests.  He should return them to America and de-escalate American forces that have been used as advance teams for US corporations to set up permanent bases and expand global markets at the expense of US resources.  These theaters of war are ones he has chosen to engage in when the survival or prosperity of our Republic is not at stake.  The greatest danger to our military is their deployment to these areas by the very government that wants to protect them by infringing on the rights of the society they are fighting to protect.    People who claim that photos showing abuse and or torture of prisoners under American control should be released should also proclaim  those who are responsible for their ugly content must be brought to justice.   If the Supreme Court rules against the Obama petition most likely he will used the powers of the unitary executive, finely tuned by the Bush administration, to block the release of the pictures.  Just one more example of ‘the more things change, the more they remain the same’.

As bad as it gets


The Bush administration has done some pretty heinous things, from enslaving an entire nation through a war of aggression, to torturing it’s citizens, so this latest bit of news should come as no surprise.  Indeed, this  news is the very reason why many of us opposed the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, because war by nature grooms such behavior as the story below depicts.  War’s brutality is nothing new to the human experience.  We’ve been doing it ever since we first stepped foot on this earth, so why is it that leaders like Bush and now Obama who’ve never been to war are so quick to send people off to war when our inbred experience as well as what we’ve learned from others who’ve fought it tell us of the consequences upon the fighting men and women.  What makes a leader so callous and indifferent to the suffering his own people will face when they fight the leader’s wars and especially when they come to realize all too quickly that such wars are senseless, without reason, brutal and not in their interests as citizens of the world?!?!  Doing so, therefore makes such leaders damnable to hell for an eternity because of the suffering they inflict not just upon an enemy, but upon their own people.

Rape and sodomy therefore are a part of the Iraqi war.  It was done in our name, in many cases by Americans or witnessed and  allowed to be carried out by Americans and forever leaves an indelible stain upon our Republic which no longer stands ‘under God with liberty and justice for all.’    In order to remove that stain, and to restore our own self- confidence, the most important of all, as well as the confidence of the world community towards us, every American who has engaged in such illegal and immoral behavior must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  We must start from the very top with our President who sent his  own troops in harms way, his vice president who commissioned them to commit illegal acts of torture, the advisors who gave excuses for these war crimes and finally to every soldier who followed their orders.

This is what was done in our name.

Photographs of alleged prisoner abuse which Barack Obama is attempting to censor include images of apparent rape and sexual abuse, it has emerged.

At least one picture shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee.

Further photographs are said to depict sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube.

Another apparently shows a female prisoner having her clothing forcibly removed to expose her breasts.

Detail of the content emerged from Major General Antonio Taguba, the former army officer who conducted an inquiry into the Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq.

Allegations of rape and abuse were included in his 2004 report but the fact there were photographs was never revealed. He has now confirmed their existence in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.

The graphic nature of some of the images may explain the US President’s attempts to block the release of an estimated 2,000 photographs from prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan despite an earlier promise to allow them to be published.

Maj Gen Taguba, who retired in January 2007, said he supported the President’s decision, adding: “These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency.

“I am not sure what purpose their release would serve other than a legal one and the consequence would be to imperil our troops, the only protectors of our foreign policy, when we most need them, and British troops who are trying to build security in Afghanistan.

“The mere description of these pictures is horrendous enough, take my word for it.”

In April, Mr Obama’s administration said the photographs would be released and it would be “pointless to appeal” against a court judgment in favour of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

But after lobbying from senior military figures, Mr Obama changed his mind saying they could put the safety of troops at risk.

Earlier this month, he said: “The most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to inflame anti-American public opinion and to put our troops in greater danger.”

It was thought the images were similar to those leaked five years ago, which showed naked and bloody prisoners being intimidated by dogs, dragged around on a leash, piled into a human pyramid and hooded and attached to wires.

Mr Obama seemed to reinforce that view by adding: “I want to emphasise that these photos that were requested in this case are not particularly sensational, especially when compared to the painful images that we remember from Abu Ghraib.”

The latest photographs relate to 400 cases of alleged abuse between 2001 and 2005 in Abu Ghraib and six other prisons. Mr Obama said the individuals involved had been “identified, and appropriate actions” taken.

Maj Gen Taguba’s internal inquiry into the abuse at Abu Ghraib, included sworn statements by 13 detainees, which, he said in the report, he found “credible based on the clarity of their statements and supporting evidence provided by other witnesses.”

Among the graphic statements, which were later released under US freedom of information laws, is that of Kasim Mehaddi Hilas in which he says: “I saw [name of a translator] ******* a kid, his age would be about 15 to 18 years. The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the doors with sheets. Then when I heard screaming I climbed the door because on top it wasn’t covered and I saw [name] who was wearing the military uniform, putting his **** in the little kid’s ***…. and the female soldier was taking pictures.”

The translator was an American Egyptian who is now the subject of a civil court case in the US.

Three detainees, including the alleged victim, refer to the use of a phosphorescent tube in the sexual abuse and another to the use of wire, while the victim also refers to part of a policeman’s “stick” all of which were apparently photographed.