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America's soul is tortured 

Pentagon propagandists prop up presidential prevarications

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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.

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