Here's the kind of freedom and liberation you get in exchange for a million dead bodies: Iraqi court rules Guardian defamed Nouri al-Maliki.
What exactly did the Guardian do to merit this judgment -- which, perhaps not incidentally, directs them to put more than $100,000 in Nouri al-Maliki's pocket? Something which, admittedly, is quite shocking in our day: reporting.
The Guardian's Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, who has contributed a remarkable series of stories from the frontlines and backrooms of the Iraqi cauldron, interviewed three members of the Iraqi national intelligence service "who claimed that the prime minister was beginning to run Iraqi affairs with an authoritarian hand."
And for this "revelation" -- which is akin to claiming that the sun rises in the east, or that the Pope served with the Nazis -- the Guardian was hauled into an Iraqi court for defamation. After a number of expert witnesses demolished the case on legal grounds, a new five-member panel of government toadies weighed in to argue that "Iraqi publishing law did not allow foreigners to publish articles critical of the prime minister or president, or to interfere in Iraqi internal affairs." To which the Guardian laconically appended this little fact: "The advice appeared to overlook the fact that Abdul-Ahad is an Iraqi citizen."
It surely comes as no surprise that the court rejected the expert testimony in favor of the toadies' playful sporting with the truth. But this is to be expected given the, well, authoritarian hand that the local satrap has been given by the occupying power. As the Guardian notes:
Journalists covering routine violence in Iraq have reported being assaulted by security officials in recent weeks, in the wake of two huge bombings since early August that destroyed three government ministries and the Baghdad governorate, calling the effectiveness of government security forces into question.
And as we noted here just a few weeks ago, it is not only the Guardian who is nailing the truth about the grubby, kleptocratic police state that America is building in the conquered land; even the Economist --
the veritable Bible of the Anglo-American Establishment -- paints a grim portrait of the Iraqi regime installed at the point of American guns: a sinkhole of torture, execution, increasing repression and brazen power-grabs:
The Shia-led government has overseen a ballooning of the country’s security apparatus. Human-rights violations are becoming more common. In private many Iraqis, especially educated ones, are asking if their country may go back to being a police state.
Old habits from Saddam Hussein’s era are becoming familiar again. Torture is routine in government detention centres. “Things are bad and getting worse, even by regional standards,” says Samer Muscati, who works for Human Rights Watch, a New York-based lobby. His outfit reports that, with American oversight gone (albeit that the Americans committed their own shameful abuses in such places as Abu Ghraib prison), Iraqi police and security people are again pulling out fingernails and beating detainees, even those who have already made confessions. A limping former prison inmate tells how he realised, after a bout of torture in a government ministry that lasted for five days, that he had been relatively lucky. When he was reunited with fellow prisoners, he said he saw that many had lost limbs and organs.
The domestic-security apparatus is at its busiest since Saddam was overthrown six years ago, especially in the capital. In July the Baghdad police reimposed a nightly curfew, making it easier for the police, taking orders from politicians, to arrest people disliked by the Shia-led government. In particular, they have been targeting leaders of the Awakening Councils, groups of Sunnis, many of them former insurgents and sympathisers, who have helped the government to drive out or capture Sunni rebels who refused to come onside. Instead of being drawn into the new power set-up, many of them in the past few months have been hauled off to prison. In the most delicate cases, the arrests are being made by an elite unit called the Baghdad Brigade, also known as “the dirty squad”, which is said to report to the office of the prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki.
As we noted in that piece, Maliki's burgeoning repression is growing from the deep loam provided by his American masters, who have assiduously fostered the use of torture, unlawful detention, death squads and other "covert ops" by a plethora of security services and militias, from the very beginning of the occupation. (For more on this, see the full post excerpted above, and also A Furnace Seal'd: The Wondrous Death Squads of the American Elite.)
But hey, overall, this Iraq war thing has been "an extraordinary achievement," hasn't it? That's what Barack Obama calls it. And no doubt that's why he's put the architects of this achievement -- like David Petraeus, Stanley "Deathsquadder" McChrystal, and lifelong Bush family apparatchik and covert operator Bob Gates -- in charge of replicating this great success in Afghanistan.
Speaking of good old Bob Gates, it is certainly heartening to read in the New York Times that he "commands considerable respect from the president." This would be the same Bob Gates "who was hip-deep in the Iran-Contra arms-drugs-terror scam, who doctored, spun and manipulated intelligence for partisan purposes and also steered secret U.S. military intelligence to help Saddam Hussein launch WMD attacks .. and has no experience whatsoever of the military," right? The same.
The Times story tells us that the considerably respected Gates is pushing Obama to order a "surge" of 30,000 more troops to stoke the flaming quagmire in Afghanistan. Apparently he is being backed by Joint Chief poobah Mike Mullen, and -- surprise, surprise! -- Hillary "The Obliterator" Clinton. However, despite this high-profile hyping of what is obviously the preferred option of our "serious" elites, we are warned that Obama has not yet made up his mind just how he intends to escalate the slaughterfest in Central Asia.
But continue it he will, one way or another, come hell or high water. For despite his dithering on the precise form of escalation, he has already forthrightly rejected the only honorable solution: ending the war. [For more on this theme, see Chris Hedges (here and here), Patrick Cockburn and Dahr Jamail and Sarah Lazare.] Obama has neither the courage nor vision -- nor the desire -- to end the war. His unusual history and background could have given him a different perspective on the true nature of American power at home and abroad -- but he decided long ago to embrace that brutal nature, to serve it, to advance it, to carry its corruption forward to future generations, and to the far ends of the earth.
And so the war -- the wars -- will go on.
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This story was published in the Baltimore Chronicle on November 11, 2009.