1.18.2007

Iraq: Where the Truth Goes to Die

by Laura Snedeker

On December 30, 2006, Saddam Hussein was hanged in silence in Iraq’s Interior Ministry. Days later he was hanged again, this time to the jeers of his executioners and cries of “Moqtada! Moqtada! Moqtada!” in reference to the cleric who now supports the ruling Shi’ite bloc in the Iraqi legislature.

The second death – the real death, the unofficial death – occurred thanks to a video captured by the camera-phone of one of the Iraqi officials in attendance. Much to the horror of the US-backed Iraqi government (and the war’s supporters in Washington), the footage was broadcast by al-Jazeera and several internet sites, prompting an outcry from the minority Sunni population. And in accordance with democratic procedure, the perpetrator was arrested on the orders of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

It’s not clear whether the man responsible taped the execution with the intention of providing the truth or whether he intended to provoke the Sunni population, or even if he recorded it for his own amusement. It’s telling, though, that the Iraqi government arrested the man who recorded the execution and not the jeering executioners. Blame the messenger.

For the war hawks in Washington and their puppets in Baghdad, Iraq is a blank canvas on which they can paint their own version of events, so long as meddling snitches with cameras keep out of the way. If the official TV recording shows that Saddam Hussein was executed in silence, then he was. Bad things only happen in Iraq when someone – whether an Iraqi government official or a US soldier in a torture prison – sneaks in a camera. The atrocities in Abu Ghraib and Haditha were not part of a larger pattern of criminal activity; they were isolated incidents seized upon by the so-called “liberal media” in order to undermine a war that was already lost.

If no one counts the bodies, then no one died today. The administration insists that sending 21,500 more soldiers to Iraq is not part of an escalation, but a surge, and the media have consented to using that terminology. They consented years ago to report the “War on Terror,” when all we’ve seen so far is a war against freedom at home and against two (yes, the United States is still in Afghanistan) foreign countries.

Iraq is a black hole from which people emerge in body bags every day, although we are told that America is “winning” the war (whatever “winning” means today). It is a black hole in which the news of the day is created and controlled to suit the needs of the war profiteers. Like the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, the truth has been “disappeared.” What happens in Iraq is meant to stay in Iraq.

(The photo is a still created from official video released by Iraqi State Television, and is in the public domain.)





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5 comments:

Minor Ripper said...

Not sure if everyone has seen these videos of the US military in Iraq or not, but they are pretty amazing: Hopefully our 'surge' will not include too many of these types...
http://minor-ripper.blogspot.com/2006/12/winning-hearts-and-minds-part-three.html

Laura Snedeker said...

Thanks for linking to the videos. I hadn't seen them. Unfortunately, since so many soldiers' tours are being extended via "stop-loss" and the military seems to be reluctant to investigate widespread abuse, that type of behavior will probably become even more prevalent.

I also checked out some of the other posts on your blog. Very cool.

Rick Rockwell said...

The behavior in those videos is very disappointing, even with the stress of extended tours. Does no one in the Pentagon understand the need for cultural preparation? I hope someone in Northern Virginia has those videos and plans to use them to train our troops on what not to do in the future.

Anonymous said...

We shouldn't rush too soon to agree with our natural instincts and prejudices.

The plan President Bush proposed could work and it also could not.

There are good arguments both for and against.

Ask soldiers on the ground, they'll say the problem is securing an area after taking it over. Hence, more troops would help.

Ask anyone else, they'll tell you the troop surge is an escalation of war which is something we don't want.

There are many ways of looking at it. Perhaps there is no correct answer, but it is important to not be so stubborn as to close yourself off to other ideas (let it be Bush's or anyone else)because of what you may think is "right."

Rick Rockwell said...

Before this excellent post slips off the blog’s frontpage, this last anonymous comment calls for some response.

First, I should make clear, we appreciate comments. We appreciate comments that run counter to the general opinion in the blog. We even appreciate anonymous comments.

But anonymous comments that sound like the talking points memo out of the White House to spin the State of the Union and other administration needs seems spineless. If you really feel that way, stand up and be counted. But I suppose that is not vogue in the blogosphere. I think it is spineless because the Propaganda Patrol so desperately needs to go from blog to blog attempting to find believers for a president who has sunk to his lowest levels of approval.

Now, you may feel this is too harsh.

That’s what the Propaganda Patrol wants you to believe as they hide. You see, one of the great political tactics is to sound reasonable while spinning the emptiness that is the current policy. That last comment is reasonable on its face. But only if you forget almost four years of failed policy in Iraq and the fact the administration has a credibility problem as bad as anything Nixon or Johnson had over Vietnam.

After four years of lies, no one is rushing to a conclusion. The response of the Senate this week says everything. The president doesn’t even get a pass there even though Congress is taking the smallest of steps to get back to running our democracy.

I’ll take my cues on the president’s escalation plan from a Republican who is a good soldier: Colin Powell. Former Secretary of State Powell dismissed the idea of a troop increase as not enough and too late. If folks had followed the Powell Doctrine instead of remaking the military during a war, maybe we would be done with Iraq. But the fact is we’d nearly have to double the troops to win. That’s the Powell Doctrine at work. And even Bush has no stomach for that.

The president has earned the stubbornness he now finds confronting him in Congress and with the citizenry. No one here is jumping to a hasty conclusion after watching this travesty.

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