Monday, November 28, 2005

The Bad Guys

And thus I clothe my naked villainy
With old odd ends, stol'n forth of holy writ;
And seem a saint, when most I play the devil.

- William Shakespeare

Flexibility - moral flexibility, that is has allowed the crew in office to start their very own chain of Rent-a-Gulags in our name, recycling the evil prisons of torture created by Stalin, Tito, and other Soviet dictators.

Their moral relativism makes them think "harsh stuff" is A-OK:

North Babel was probably the place where I saw the worst evidence of abuse. This was from August to October of 2004, so, it was well after the Abu Ghraib scandal. And we were no longer using any harsh tactics within the prison, but I was working with a marine unit, and they would go out and do a raid and stay in the detainee's homes, and torture them there. They were far worse than anything that I ever saw in a prison. They were breaking bones. They were smashing people's feet with the back of an axe head. They burned people. Yeah, they were doing some pretty harsh stuff.

Though sometimes it's really just all in good fun:
Not only did soldiers use white phosphorous in the rounds they fired but they applied chemicals to detainees' skin and eyes. One soldier used a baseball bat to break a detainee's leg. Others were said to abuse prisoners merely to "relieve stress." One sergeant said: "In a way, it was sport."

In the land where morality is flexible, it's OK, because "they" are bad guys and "we" are good guys - even if we do the exact same things that make the the bad guys bad, like torture and melting the skin off the residents of a city with chemical weapons.

Of course, "they" are not necessarily bad guys, but heck, "we" are still the good guys, right?

... so, I was trying to get these guys to trust me, telling them I'm going to help them out, which I really couldn't help anybody out at that place, because everyone they arrested, innocent or guilty, no matter what I said, they would just send them to Abu Ghraib anyway. But --

AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean?

TONY LAGOURANIS: Well, you know, the interrogators-- I’m the only person who is going to talk to this guy. There's no officer that's going to talk to him. The person who decides whether to let them go or keep them is not going to interrogate them. So, my recommendation should count for something, you know, but it didn't at FOB CALSU with the 24th MEW Marines. Basically everybody who came to the prison, they determined, they were a terrorist, they were guilty and they would send them to Abu Ghraib.

AMY GOODMAN: What did you determine?

TONY LAGOURANIS: That like 98% of these guys had not done anything. I mean, they were picking up people for the stupidest things like -- there's one guy they picked up, they stopped him at a checkpoint, just a routine stop, and he had a shovel in his trunk, and he had a cell phone in his pocket. They said, well, you can use the shovel to bury an IED, you can use the cell phone to detonate it. He didn't have any explosives in his car, he had no weapons, nothing. They had no reason to believe that he was setting IED’s other than the shovel and cell phone. That was the kind of prisoner they were bringing us.

So, now we've reached the point where the right wing starts blaming the "liberal media." Pointing out the sins of the administration is the problem, but the sins themselves are just fine. The insurgents in Iraq are strengthened by the reports of the sins, not by the sins. The troops we have sent to Iraq are demoralized by someone reporting their actions, not by the actions themselves.

As we all know, the people in Iraq would never notice all those dead people, all those tortured family members, all those disappeared, unless they were reported on our news, here in the USA.

To get an idea how ludicrous this is, imagine the following:

You're some average person in a Iraq. One day, your Uncle disappears because he had a shovel in the car. A few weeks later, he reappears on your doorstep mangled, burned, and dead. You shrug it off, get yourself a cup of tea, then flip on the TV. You channel surf to a channel that reports news in a language you don't speak, where the anchorperson you don't understand says that US troops have tortured people in your country. That gets your blood boiling, and off you run to support the insurgency, jumping over your dead, burned, mangled Uncle as you dash out the door.

Do you really think you'd have to wait to watch the 5:00 news, in some other country, in a language you don't speak, to get mad? Is that really what would set your hand against our toops? Don't you think the image of your poor, Uncle would, perhaps, be more effective at pushing you over the edge?

Here's the reality:
The administration created the war. The administration created the "flexible" policy on torture. They set up the prisons. They rented the Gulags. They have turned Iraqis against our troops. Nothing you or I say, nothing reported in the paper, on the radio, or on the TV news will make the Iraqi people any more angry than the actions of our troops under the incompetent command of the con-men in charge of our government.

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