James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Little Bush of Horrors 2

Here are a few more items demonstrating the malfeasance of the Bushies that have accumulated on my desk. They are beyond my scope for more complete reporting or simply aren’t likely to make it to the top of my to-do pile. This one focuses mainly on actions of the Bushies as they relate to the claim that the nominal president and his crowd are busily spreading democracy around the world.

* Amnesty International reports that the Bushies (as represented by the Pentagon) have refused to allow several human rights groups to sit in on the military trials of prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp. It is going to let a handful of carefully chosen “reporters” (Robert Novak maybe?) and a representative or two of the Red Cross attend, but that’s not exactly the same thing. The reporters, as I said, will be chosen by the Pentagon – and we can safely say that a passion for justice won’t be one of the criteria used in the choosing. The Red Cross has no experience in witnessing trials and no knowledge of international law as it relates to such cases; it also is well known for playing footsie with the military brass. Human rights groups that applied to attend and were rejected have solid experience in such activities and are greatly respected around the world.

* In case you missed it – most main stream newspapers did publish the story – the Associated Press reported just a few days ago that a new report by Human Rights Watch showed that U.S. operations in Afghanistan “are marred by needless civilian casualties, lawless arrest and the alleged torture of prisoners.” The report carries details of such activities, such as one in which the army raided a homestead, killing a farmer while arresting another farmer and his two sons – all of whom were found to be innocent of any wrongdoing and released. There also have been several operations that resulted in the death of children, the worst of which killed six kids.

The report points out that many people are being held without charge by U.S. troops and various nasty warlords allied to our military. Further, Human Rights Watch says, many of those prisoners are beaten, deprived of sleep and otherwise ill treated. The Bushies have declared that we brought peace and democracy to Afghanistan, but the American military scoffed at the Human Rights Watch report on the grounds that strife in the country is such that it can’t use “peacetime methods” of operation. The rights organization points out that – what a surprise! – that Afghans are increasingly unwilling to cooperate with U.S. forces because of such actions.

* This one was reported by the New York Times and picked up by some other mainstream newspapers: Remember all the talk of the horrors of people in Iraq having been disappeared under Saddam? Well guess what? One of the big problems in that sad country now is the thousands of Iraqis disappeared by the U.S. military. In some areas, the Times, reported “entire swaths of farmland have been cleared of males – fathers, sons, brothers, cousins...There are no men to do men’s work. Women till the fields, guard the houses and hoist sacks of grapefruit on their backs.” In fact, the Times said, “Iraq has a new generation of missing men.”

At least most of the disappeared individuals aren’t being murdered and dumped into the Tigris, the Times writer says. They’re simply being held in American-run jails, incognito; their families aren’t informed where they are, they have no recourse to law and no charges are filed against them. They’re just held. The military acknowledged to the Times reporter, Jeffrey Gettleman, that most of the detainees are not dangerous. More than 10,000 Iraqi men are being held.

*On another subject, here’s one that was widely reported, but not prominently in all areas: The Bushies pushed through the “no child left behind” standards – which most educators say are terrible – and promised to fully fund the program. Then, as it has done with so many similar promises, the administration budgeted $9.4 billion less for schools than it had pledged.

Rod Paige, the secretary of education, labeled the National Education Association “a terrorist organization” when it called on Bush to live up to his promises. There’s a petition drive on to get Paige fired, but it is doomed to failure. Paige, like most Bush appointees, is a darling of the extreme right.