Neal Boortz was just horrified -- HORRIFIED, I say -- at the revelations of torture of Iraqi prisoners carried out by U.S. troops. George Bush, for whom Boortz shills, spoke to the press last week in Michigan, and declared (doing a good imitation of Capt. Renault in Casablanca) that he, too, was "shocked."
Indeed, there was a lot to be horrified and shocked about. The American soldiers weren't sociopaths, nor were they only testosterone-driven, just-past-boyhood men for whom warfare was a surrogate for sex.
No, the torture team starred a budding flower of American femininity, a lass, little more than a girl, who in photographs is shown being particularly foul in her depraved mistreatment of Iraqis. Not just our boys, but our wives, daughters and sisters have been vilely corrupted by Bush's needless, reckless war.
Pvt. Lynndie England now is the face of America to the rest of the world -- leering in a photograph as she forces a hapless and naked Iraqi man to masturbate. Imagine, if you will, how America would have reacted had there been photographs of POW Jessica Lynch being sexually abused. Our fury would have been boundless. (Lynch, despite Pentagon fairy tales, later debunked, wasn't mistreated.)
Underscoring what the Arab world perceives as America's debauched and immoral national character, England subsequently managed to get herself knocked up and sent home.
The actions of the prison guards, intoned hate-radio second-stringer Boortz, "are going to cost the lives of soldiers." That is, the Arab world, already with plenty of reasons to be pissed at the Bush regime, now has graphic evidence of Americans torturing Iraqis (in Saddam Hussein's very own chamber of horrors, the Abu Ghraib prison, no less), and of committing the uncivilized deeds in a way calculated to offend some of Islam's strictest taboos.
American lives might well be forfeit. But Boortz wasn't really outraged at the guards' actions. In fact, he'd contributed to the anti-Arab frenzy that led to the guards concluding that what they were doing was appropriate. A few days before the Abu Ghraib story broke, Boortz had hooted for volunteer women to parade naked through Arab neighborhoods in America. That, he said (displaying an ignorance of Islam), would compel pious Muslim men who saw the women to commit suicide. Yuk, yuk.
On the torture story, Boortz was parroting spin from the Republican Party's Ministry of Big Lies, the same enterprise that manufactured bogus claims about supposed Iraqi-al-Qaeda links, Winnebago chemical factories, the Niger uranium deal and balsa wood toy aircraft that would supposedly deliver the WMDs to American soil. That's also the same canard machine that told us Bush had no prior warnings about the 9/11 attack.
America's airwaves -- courtesy of folks like Cox Enterprises and Clear Channel -- are dominated by the hateful lies of one side in the political debate, which is a big reason that Americans are so ill informed about Iraq and how the rest of the world perceives us.
There are many things one can say about Boortz. He's incredibly ill informed or incredibly dishonest or both (Saddam's armies, he avers, were more powerful than Hitler's; poverty is the result solely of people making bad choices, not the economy, job outsourcing, racism or other objective factors). And, he's a first-class chicken hawk who is happy for you or your children to get blasted, incinerated or perforated in Iraq, but when his country needed him, he showed his yellow backside.
Beyond all that, Boortz isn't very original. While he claims to be a Libertarian, his spin emanates from Republican National Committee and Heritage Foundation talking-point bulletins.
Now you can see where Boortz was going in blaming future deaths of our soldiers on England and her poorly trained, under-equipped colleagues. This, he and his fellow propagandists say, was just an isolated incident. It's all the grunts' fault. The generals and politicians didn't know.
Never mind that human rights groups had warned about ongoing abuse of Iraqis. Forget that official reports concluded the abuse was widespread and systemic. No matter that war consigliere Donald Rumsfeld had deep-sixed reports of torture until CBS' "60 Minutes II" broadcast the news. Or that defense experts -- including more than a few retired generals -- said this was precisely the kind of problem we'd run into if we overextended our military by invading Iraq.
For Boortz and the other right-wing bullhorns, the only real issue is that the Democrats might find political capital in the abysmal failure of Bush's invasion.
Boortz doesn't want to talk about that. We should return to really important topics such as: Was one of John Kerry's Vietnam wounds really just a scratch?
Bush promised an Arab TV network, "People will be brought to justice." If that promise has the teensiest element of truth to it, then Bush himself will someday stand in the defendant's box.
What's stunning, if Bush is telling the truth (always in doubt), is the void in his mind when it comes to history. America has fought two kinds of wars. Some were just wars, such as World War II. There were Allied atrocities during that conflict, but they were aberrations. I grew up in a military family, and my father and his friends deeply understood "their war" was one to defeat totalitarianism, and their conduct was steeped in honor.
We've had other types of wars, primarily those of conquest, and they have all been marred by actions Americans don't want to admit we're capable of committing. We savaged the Native American "savages" after breaking nearly every treaty we signed with them. We killed thousands -- perhaps hundreds of thousands -- of Filipino civilians when we conquered those islands a century ago. No accurate count has yet been made of the civilian casualties caused by Ronald Reagan's Hollywood-style 1989 invasion of Panama, when, as with Saddam Hussein, we deposed a client/tyrant because he had become inconvenient.
The man we have tapped as our viceroy in Iraq, John Negroponte, earned his spurs supporting the "contra" terrorism against Nicaragua and Honduran death/torture squads -- both of which killed thousands.
The list goes on and on, and I haven't yet got to Vietnam, where we infused our troops with the virus of lethal racism so they wouldn't question policies that led to torture, rape and mass murder of "gooks" and "slants," no matter how young, how elderly -- or how utterly innocent. It's worth recalling that Colin Powell first got on the military command escalator by trying to bury reports of the My Lai massacre.
Boortz last week was in a frenzy claiming that Kerry's congressional testimony three decades ago was an attempt to smear his former comrades. Kerry repeated the eyewitness accounts of soldiers about atrocities they saw and in which they participated. But the fault was not entirely the troopers'. It belonged to the generals and political leaders. Their lies to the American public, their decision to wage war against civilian populations led to the horror of Vietnam -- just as has happened in Iraq.
Torture? You don't have to look further than the School of the Americas (now with a euphemistic, public relations-friendly name) at Fort Benning in Columbus. There we taught torture and despotism to generations of Latin American killers.
Prominent among the documents Iranians displayed in 1979, after seizing the American embassy in Tehran, were CIA torture manuals used by the Shah's U.S.-backed secret police (one document dealt specifically and intimately with the torture of female prisoners).
As I write this, Rumsfeld appears to be taking the fall. At worst, he'll move from the Pentagon to a Pentagon contractor. At best, he'll muddle through a wrist slap.
The target was pinned on Rummy after the blame couldn't be contained at the level of Pvt. England. The lid popped off, and the world learned of repeated violations of international law. Our lethargic press, now smelling blood, is finally looking at reports of abuse and torture at Guantanamo, and at other prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, our soldiers continue to die. Thousands of Iraqis are being killed. Our press may not choose to run the photos of decapitated children, slain women and old men. But the rest of the world sees them.
One administration official promised us a "cakewalk." Another said we'd be welcomed as liberators. We got a blood-drenched quagmire. The only way for America to regain the world's respect is to withdraw our troops, and to allow the United Nations to lead reconstruction.
Propagandists like Boortz have tried to distract attention from the conniving behind the war. Now, America pays the price.
Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and company planned the Iraqi invasion in 1998, well before 9/11. They, along with John Ashcroft, authored the un-American PATRIOT Act before 9/11. And, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz stated in a document drafted before the 2000 election (for the Project for a New American Century) that all they needed to get their plan going was a "new Pearl Harbor." They got what they craved.
It's not far-fetched -- indeed, it's very reasonable -- to conclude that these guys have an October Surprise in mind to panic Americans into re-electing Bush or (as Fox prevaricator Sean Hannity happily suggests) canceling the election.
But, of course, those aren't the real issues, according to Hannity, Boortz and the disinformation brigade. It's John Kerry's alleged flip-flops. Or maybe it's Hillary Clinton's secret plan to steal the White House. Yeah, that's it, Clinton, Clinton, Clinton. Scared yet? Here's some more: Clinton, Clinton, Clinton.
Senior Editor John Sugg -- who says, "Wow, I got this invitation from the Republican National Committee to an all-expenses paid vacation at a tropical resort called Gitmo" -- can be reached at 404-614-1241 or at email@example.com.
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