Monday, February 27, 2006

Fisk on Rumsfeld

Just a quick cut and paste job I'm afraid. It's an angry broadside from Robert Fisk, focusing on the obscenity of the Neo-Cons' claims to be spreading democracy and liberty to the Middle East - lies circulated and maintained by a largely compliant US media apparatus (and, it might be added, a gaggle of 'left' and 'liberal' UK and US 'humanitarians' prostrating themselves before the seductive altar of US military might).

"[Rumsfeld has] ...been taking a leisurely trip around North Africa to consult some of America's nastiest dictators, among them President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia, the man with the largest secret service in the Arab world and whose policemen have perfected the best method of gleaning information from suspected "terrorists": to hold them down and stuff bleach-soaked rags into their mouths until they have almost drowned.

The Tunisians learned this from the somewhat cruder methods of the Algerians next door whose government death squads slaughtered quite a few of the 150,000 victims of the recent war against the Islamists. The Algerian lads - and I've interviewed a few of them after their nightmares persuaded them to seek asylum in London - would strap their naked victims to a ladder and, if the "chiffon" torture didn't work, they'd push a tube down the victim's throat and turn on a water tap until the prisoner swelled up like a balloon. There was a special department (at the Chateauneuf police station, in case Donald Rumsfeld wants to know) for torturing women, who were inevitably raped before being dispatched by an execution squad.

All this I mention because Rumsfeld's also been cosying up to the Algerians. On a visit to Algiers this month, he announced that "the United States and Algeria have a multifaceted relationship. It involves political and economic as well as military-to-military co-operation. And we very much value the co-operation we are receiving in counter-terrorism..." Yes, I imagine the "chiffon" technique is easy to learn, the abuse of prisoners, too - just like Abu Ghraib, for example, which now seems to have been the fault of journalists rather than America's thugs.

Rumsfeld's latest pronouncements have included a defence of the Pentagon's system of buying favourable news stories in Iraq with bribes - "non-traditional means to provide accurate information" was his fantasy description of this latest attempt to obscure the collapse of the American regime in Baghdad - and an attack on our reporting of the Abu Ghraib tortures. "Consider for a moment the vast quantity of column inches and hours of television devoted to the detainee abuse [sic] at Abu Ghraib. Compare that to the volume of coverage and condemnation associated with, say, the discovery of Saddam Hussein's mass graves, which were filled with hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis."

Let's expose this whopping lie. We were exposing Saddam's vile regime, especially his use of gas, as long ago as 1983. I was refused a visa to Iraq by Saddam's satraps for exposing their vile tortures at - Abu Ghraib. And what was Donald Rumsfeld doing? Visiting Baghdad, grovelling before Saddam, to whom he did not mention the murders and mass graves, which he knew about, and pleading with the Beast of Baghdad to reopen the US embassy in Iraq."

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