Flaying of Marsyas, Titian, 1570/76.
May 13, 2009
They must be horrific. So violent, in fact, so obscene, so counter to even the basic tenets of human decency that President Barack Obama sought today to block the release of hundreds of photos showing prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan being abused, violated, tortured. He ordered this reversal of his position - he had been in favor of the decision to release this further evidence of war crimes committed under orders from George W. Bush and Dick Cheney - after military commanders warned that the images could inflame anti-American sentiment and endanger U.S. troops.
But, it is far worse than that. The reality is this: Anti-American sentiment could not be more "inflamed" than it already is in the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Our policy of indiscriminate bombing after the location of a "target" has been determined has caused the deaths of hundreds of men, women and children in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Our policies of providing weapons of terror - such as white phosphorous, concussion bombs, advanced jet fighters, massive tanks bristling with the power to annihilate anything in its path, explosives packed in cases made of depleted uranium - to be used by Israel against an utterly defenseless Palestinian population is known throughout the Middle East, throughout the world, except, of course, here in the U.S.
No, the release of the photos and videos in question would do more than "inflame anti-American sentiment and endanger U.S. troops." If we are to believe reports that began circulating four years ago, reports from investigative journalists such as Seymour Hersh, their release would unleash a wave of anti-American hatred that would endanger the lives of not just U.S. soldiers, but the lives of all Americans, civilians as well as military personnel. Hersh, who helped uncover the scandal, said in a speech before an ACLU convention: "Some of the worse that happened that you don’t know about, ok? Videos, there are women there. Some of you may have read they were passing letters, communications out to their men … . The women were passing messages saying 'Please come and kill me, because of what’s happened. Basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys/children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. The worst about all of them is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They [the Bush Crime Family] are in total terror it’s going to come out."
At today’s White House press briefing, press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters that the president was concerned that the photos’ release would pose a national security threat. In other words, these unreleased photos and videos show acts of degeneracy so vile there is no way they can be explained or rationalized. They contain images of children - some of them the children of detainees - being raped and sodomized as a means of forcing confessions from the adult detainees that would provide the links between Saddam Hussein and al-Quaeda that Dick Cheney and George W. Bush insisted were the basis of their orders to invade and occupy Iraq. Children of detainees being raped and sodomized as a means of obtaining confessions. In testimony before Congress five years ago no less a war criminal than the murderous former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the unrevealed photos and videos contain acts "that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel and inhuman."
Two months ago, Hersh, speaking at the University of Minnesota, said the following in trying to reveal yet more of the incredible depravity and lawlessness of Dick Cheney:
"After 9/11, I haven’t written about this yet, but the Central Intelligence Agency was very deeply involved in domestic activities against people they thought to be enemies of the state. Without any legal authority for it. They haven’t been called on it yet. That does happen. Right now, today, there was a story in the New York Times that if you read it carefully mentioned something known as the Joint Special Operations Command — JSOC it’s called. It is a special wing of our special operations community that is set up independently. They do not report to anybody, except in the Bush-Cheney days, they reported directly to the Cheney office. They did not report to the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff or to Mr. [Robert] Gates, the secretary of defense. They reported directly to him.
"… Congress has no oversight of it. It’s an executive assassination ring essentially, and it’s been going on and on and on. Just today in the Times there was a story that its leaders, a three star admiral named [William H.] McRaven, ordered a stop to it because there were so many collateral deaths. "Under President Bush’s authority, they’ve been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving. That’s been going on, in the name of all of us." [emphasis added]
[Note: The former head of JSOC - Lt. General Stanley McChrystal was named this week to replace Gen. David McKiernan as U.S Commander and Commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan.]
Torture conducted by the CIA. The rape and sodomizing of children. Sending detainees to countries whose methods of torture are medieval in their scope and techniques. Assassination squads that answered only to Dick Cheney. This was your country. This was your country in the grip of a madman. This is your country trying desperately to deny, to hide, to bury, the evidence of war crimes on a massive scale.