In reality both Abu Ghraib and Haditha were merely more extreme versions of the day-to-day workings of the American occupation in Iraq, and what makes them unique is not so much how bad they were, or how embarrassing, but the fact that they made their way to the media and were publicized despite attempts to cover them up. Focusing on Abu Ghraib and Haditha distracts us from the daily, little Abu Ghraibs and small-scale Hadithas that have made up the occupation. The occupation has been one vast extended crime against the Iraqi people, and most of it has occurred unnoticed by the American people and the media.
Americans, led to believe that their soldiers and Marines would be welcomed as liberators by the Iraqi people, have no idea what the occupation is really like from the perspective of Iraqis who endure it. Although I am American, born and raised in New York City, I came closer to experiencing what it might feel like to be Iraqi than many of my colleagues. I often say that the secret to my success in Iraq as a journalist is my melanin advantage. I inherited my Iranian father's Middle Eastern features, which allowed me to go unnoticed in Iraq, blend into crowds, march in demonstrations, sit in mosques, walk through Falluja’s worst neighborhoods.
I also benefited from being able to speak Arabic—in particular its Iraqi dialect, which I hastily learned in Baghdad upon my arrival and continued to develop throughout my time in Iraq.
The above is from Nir Rosen's "The Occupation of Iraqi Hearts and Minds" (Truth Dig). Dexy leaves such a bad taste in the mouth that I took a break and worked out before resuming. I'm not seeing much in terms of news. For instance, everyone's apparently too worried about being called "Bill Keller!" by the White House to note, as The KPFA Evening News did yesterday, that the NSA warrantless (i.e. illegal) spying on the phone calls of American citizens began on February of 2001 (long before 9-11) and the plan was drawn up in 2000. If you missed it, you can hear an archived broadcast. Apparently it's not "news" to the Times.
So was this a program drawn up with Bill Clinton's support or something cooked up without his knowledge? It's a question especially worth asking since Hillary Clinton didn't back Feingold's censure resolution and since she's been largely silent on the issue of the illegal spying. Molly notes Robert Scheer's "Will The Real Democrats Please Stand Up?" (Truth Dig) which explores Lieberman, Hillary and the Democratic Party:
If Clinton does indeed know better than to support the war, let her say it out loud--and clearly. Why is it so difficult for the Democrats to grasp that waffling doesn't work as a form of leadership? The public takes it as a sign of moral disarray. Does anyone doubt that John Kerry lost the 2004 presidential election when he whiffed on Bush’s curveball question: Knowing what you know now, would you have supported the Iraq invasion? He should have instantly said, "Hell no, you lied to Congress and the American people and deserve to be defeated precisely for that betrayal of the public trust."
Instead, as he ruefully insisted last month when I questioned him on this, he allowed a campaign spokesperson to say that he still supported an invasion that most Democrats had long since realized was a terrible mistake. In the following weeks, he attempted to regain some footing on the issue, but it was too late--the inept Bush had once again been allowed to seem Churchill-like by comparison.
It is high time the folks who make up the base of the Democratic Party took a page from the playbook of the Republican Right and backed candidates willing to stand up for their values, rather than wasting their money, time and votes on those who won't.
Remember to listen, watch or read Democracy Now! today. The e-mail address for this site is firstname.lastname@example.org. And Kat reminds KPFA airs the latest Guns and Butter today (one p.m. PST).
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