Dr. C. Scott Ananian (cananian) wrote,
Dr. C. Scott Ananian
cananian

Polls, Red Coats, Abuse, and Censorship

From a USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll:
But while they acknowledge benefits from dumping Saddam a year ago, Iraqis no longer see the presence of the American-led military as a plus. Asked whether they view the U.S.-led coalition as "liberators" or "occupiers," 71% of all respondents say "occupiers." [...]

Sabah Yeldo, a Christian who owns a liquor store across town, says American failures have left the capital with higher crime and less-reliable services, including electricity. That is "making everybody look back and seriously consider having Saddam back again instead of the Americans."

News from Iraq is starting to remind me of the American Revolution—only this time, we're the folks in the red coats, extracting resources from an occupied colony. We don't like to think of ourselves this way.

Does this sound familiar?

Twenty-one days before—on the night of March 5, 1770—five men had been shot to death in Boston town by British soldiers. Precipitating the event known as the Boston Massacre was a mob of men and boys taunting a sentry standing guard at the city's customs house. When other British soldiers came to the sentry's support, a free-for-all ensued and shots were fired into the crowd. [...]

The presence of British troops in Boston had long been a sore point among Boston's radical politicians. Paul Revere wasted no time in capitalizing on the Massacre to highlight British tyranny and stir up anti-British sentiment among his fellow colonists.

Of course, we're trying to instill a democratic government in Iraq. That's the point, after all, right? But it looks like we may have to partition Iraq and settle for a Shiite theocracy and Sunni anarchy, with (hopefully!) the Kurdish third becoming a true democracy.

And our committment to instilling democratic values is undermined by the fact that we are sexually abusing Iraqi prisoners:

Graphic photographs showing the torture and sexual abuse of Iraqi prisoners in a US-run prison outside Baghdad emerged yesterday from a military inquiry which has left six soldiers facing a possible court martial and a general under investigation. [...]

A military report into the Abu Ghraib case—parts of which were made available to the Guardian—makes it clear that private contractors were supervising interrogations in the prison, which was notorious for torture and executions under Saddam Hussein.

The firms involved are CACI International Inc and the Titan Corporation. Both of these are big "Homeland Security" contractors, which should scare you to death. From Supreme Court oral argument in the Padilla case on Wednesday:
[Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader] Ginsburg asks [Deputy Solicitor General Paul] Clement [representing the president today] for some limiting principle on executive powers in wartime. "Supposing the executive says mild torture will help?" Clement responds with the only credible answer he can give: "Just because executive authority in wartime can be abused doesn't justify limiting it."
For a sobering look at the self-censorship of our media, compare the British paper The Guardian's coverage of the torture of Iraqi prisoners with CNN's coverage. The NY Times and LA Times buried the story inside and did not run photos, and although the NY Times story is fairly complete, it waits until the 13th paragraph to reveal how shocking this abuse really is:
In one photograph obtained by the program, naked Iraq prisoners are stacked in a human pyramid, one with a slur written on his skin in English. In another, a prisoner stands on a box, his head covered, wires attached to his body. The program said that according to the United States Army, he had been told that if he fell off the box, he would be electrocuted. Other photographs show male prisoners positioned to simulate sex with each other.

"The pictures show Americans, men and women, in military uniforms, posing with naked Iraqi prisoners," states a transcript of the program's script, made available Wednesday night. "And in most of the pictures, the Americans are laughing, posing, pointing or giving the camera a thumbs-up."

The CBS News program said the Army also had photographs showing a detainee with wires attached to his genitals and another showing a dog attacking an Iraqi prisoner. The program also reported that the Army's investigation of the case included a statement from an Iraqi detainee who charges that a translator hired to work at the prison raped a male juvenile prisoner.

Also this week, 7 ABC affiliates have been told not to air Nightline's tribute to our fallen soldiers. The Sinclair Broadcast Group, owners of the stations involved, claims that the tribute "appears to be motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq."

The show, titled "The Fallen," will air at 11:35 p.m. Friday. In it, newsman Ted Koppel will read the names of the U.S. troops killed in action while their pictures are shown to viewers. [...]

ABC said that on the first anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks it aired the names and pictures of all those who died on that day.

[...] According to campaign finance records, four of Sinclair's top executives each have given the maximum campaign contribution of $2,000 to the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign.

The executives have not given any donations to the campaign of Sen. John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic nominee, the records showed.

Some more follow-the-money details from DailyKos [which also brought my attention to some of the other stories mentioned in this entry].
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