Sunday, August 14, 2011

Editorial: It started out illegal, it remains illegal

Last Monday, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released [PDF format warning] "2010 Report on Human Rights in Iraq." It follows on the heels of SIGIR Stuart Bowen's report which found Iraq is more dangerous today than it was a year ago with violence on the rise.

This in spite of the fact that every time he opens his mouth, Barack Obama's signing the "Progress In Iraq" song -- the same one Bully Boy Bush used to sing. It was meaningless then and it's meaningless now.


And yet the US government is in negotiations with the Iraqi government to keep US forces on the ground in Iraq beyond 2011.

For what?

For how long?

Nothing has been accomplished with this illegal war, nothing good.

March 2012? If the US military is still in Iraq, it will have been in Iraq for nine years.

And there's no democracy. And there's no improved lives for Iraqis.

There's no stability. In fact, the whole reason for the US military staying would be to prop up the thug Nouri al-Maliki. The thug the US installed embraces torture and secret prisons and corruption and theft and you name it. And that's who the US wants to keep in power.

He orders attacks on peaceful protesters, he orders attacks on journalists. He looks the other ways as Iraqi Christians are attacked, he looks the other way as Iraq's LGBT community is attacked.

This is who the US government installed, this is the puppet they continue to protect. So stop pretending it's about democracy or liberation or anything noble. It's an illegal war. Changing the guard at the White House didn't change the illegal war.

This is especially clear in the United Nations report and especially in the section on Iraqi prisons:

Through various visits to detention centres and prisons, UNAMI found evidence that detainees and prisoners had been threatened with beatings if they raised concerns with UN staff. Overcrowding was seen to be a major problem in many facilities. UNAMI obtained information that some prisoners would be removed from their cells before the arrival of UNAMI in order to prevent them from being seen, in particular detainees who had visible marks of torture or abuse. Furthermore, UNAMI obtained evidence that torture and ill treatment routinely takes place at the time of arrest and while in detention. UNAMI staff seeing marks on some prisoners and detainees were threated with the death or rape of their female family members if they refused to sign confessions. Evidence gathered by UNAMI indicated that some detainees had been held for long periods of time -- some up to two years -- without being told of the charges against them and without access to family members, lawyers, or the courts. Conditions within facilities were often observed to be cramped, with no natural light, and no ventilation. Often there are no toilets in the cells, prisoners being let out intermittently to relieve themselves -- adding to the unhygienic condition of the facilities.
UNAMI had information that on some visits prisoners would be removed from cells and concealed by the authorities to give the impression that over-crowding had been resolved but also to remove from view prisoners who had signs of physical injury. It was observed that prisoners and detainees were often not provided with adequate food, sometimes only being fed a handful of dates on some days, and many showed skin disorders caused from unhygienic conditions. More significantly, there was substantial evidence that prisoners and detainees had been physically mistreated and beaten following previous visits by UNAMI in order to comple them to disclose the nature and substance of their discussions with UNAMI. Further visits to detention centres in Baghdad, were suspended from mid December 2010 until unfettered, private access is permited by the authorities to the inmates, and satisfactory guarantees have been given by the Government of Iraq that prisoners will not be harmed as a result of such visits which UNAMI is able to verify. Visits had not resumed by the end of the year.

The response from US outlets to the report was to ignore it (most outlets) or to pretty it up by ignoring the report and going with spin from a spokesperson instead (IPS -- click here for a critique of that bad coverage).

The reality of press coverage of Iraq is that they can never say Nouri is a thug -- not even when a US senator states that in an open hearing -- and they can never talk about the way Iraqis are treated in their own country now ruled by exiles.

The reality is that if the US press ever told the truth about the Iraq War, it would be highly embarrassing for many, many members of the press -- the ones who've lied or 'shaved the truth' repeatedly. But if they ever did get the guts to tell the truth, the complete truth, Barack Obama would never be able to blather on about 'progress' in Iraq without being loudly boo-ed. Press coverage of the Iraq War has never been about the Iraqi people. It really hasn't been about the American soldier. Instead, it's repeatedly been about protecting the politicians who lied us into this war.

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