There’s a reflexive tendency to think the worst of the Bush-Cheney administration when scandals like the torture tapes emerge. This tendency is well justified.
This administration’s defining moment was the Iraq invasion. Over time, it caused death to 1.2 million civilians and the injuries of 1.1 million noncombatants. Just last week we found out that there are now five million orphans in Iraq.
How can the administration and their enablers ever top that? Why shouldn’t we expect the worst immediately when we hear yet another accusation of criminal or unethical conduct?
Have you heard or read that 9% or Iraq’s population is either dead or injured to date due to the 2003 invasion? This is rarely addressed by U.S. media or politicians.
The announcement that 19% of Iraq’s population now consists of orphans hasn’t hit mainstream media’s radar yet. This shocker seems destined for the same fate as the death and injury figures.
Snuff Tapes and One Dead Terrorist Dominate Coverage
Odd isn’t it? All this emphasis on the CIA’s destruction of Abu Zubaydah torture tapes instead of the pervasive and ongoing human loss and suffering visited on Iraq by Bush and Cheney?
Let’s take a quick look at the tape controversy and see if there’s some relationship to the dismissal and denial of the infinitely larger outrage.
Abu Zubaydah was either a terrorist kingpin or a seriously disturbed individual with multiple personality traits. He either provided a wealth of information or he was a useless informant. His torture was conducted either with or without the full knowledge of Bush-Cheney. The destruction of the torture tapes was either approved by Bush-Cheney in advance or it became known to them after the fact. We’re either seeing a major cover up or flawed White House public relations in the wake of Rove’s departure.
By applying “the law of subsumption,” (i.e., thinking the worst of Bush-Cheney is almost always correct given prior performance) this side show can be wrapped up promptly.
Bush and Cheney were desperate to justify their disastrous Iraq adventure. There were no WMDs, there never had been any connection between Saddam and 911, and the excuse of bringing democracy to Iraq had no legs. Why are we there? How do we explain the Iraqi resistance? What if the people discover it was really all about oil?
Simple and Grotesque at the Same Time
A justification for this insanity was both essential and time-critical. Voila! We’ve captured Abu Zubaydah! Isn’t he a top al Qaeda operative?
But there was a deal killer right from the start. The FBI’s top al-Qaeda expert, Dan Coleman, didn’t mince words: “This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality.” In Zubaydah’s long term diary, he named his personalities: “‘hani 1, hani 2, and hani 3,’ – a boy, a young man and a middle-aged alter ego.” Coleman’s CIA counterpart came to the same conclusion. (This is all documented by Ron Suskind in The One Percent Solution.)
This analysis was quickly discarded and replaced by a self serving political fantasy. The key al-Qaeda operative was now in custody! A fourth personality was created for Zubaydah when Bush described his special prisoner as “one of the top operatives plotting and planning death and destruction on the United States.”
Bush blew the war that never should have been. He was desperate. Abu Zubaydah experienced the very worst timing in his life and wound up as a key excuse for the program of illegal detention and torture. Next outrage.
Who knows why they taped the torture? What difference does it make? How much more evidence do we need to demonstrate the absolute betrayal of the United States by a cult of supreme narcissists? We can grasp that these are “high crimes” even if our elected representatives can’t.
The relationship between this “key operative’s” story and the media and political blackout about the death and suffering of millions may be this simple. Keep people involved in appalling minutiae and avoid the larger charges which nearly everyone would see as an utter outrage.
In a sense, it’s the same strategy employed by the media and politicians in presidential campaigns. Never mention the real problems, the overwhelming challenges. Keep it focused on “experience,” the “horse race,” polls, and who apologized to whom. But never address the salient issues. That would be telling.
I Still See Dead People
As interesting as all this tape business is, what difference does it make in the larger context – the tragedy that is and will continue to be Iraq? The thought of five million orphans in a nation of 26 million people is simply too appalling to fully comprehend. An equivalent number in the United States would be 57 million orphans. Can you imagine that?
Video taping torture, the destruction of evidence, and the exact role of the White House in the entire affair are indicative and emblematic of the larger problems. These acts represent a gruesome metaphor. But it’s just more of the same outrageous behavior we’ve seen for years.
The overriding crime is over a million deaths plus the suffering and abandonment of millions more, all due to a foreign policy based on lies and deception. This was done against the prevailing views of the military and the people of the United States.
Millions of Iraqi civilians are dead, suffering and abandoned.
How will they vote in their new democracy?
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