White House a den of 'fowl t'iefs'
March 19, 2006
By Raffique Shah
LAST week, on several occasions, in typical Trini-style, "ah laugh till mih belly nearly buss". That was welcome relief from the serious topics I sought to address recently, from the Government's over-use of our oil and gas reserves to our myopia in planning for the future of the country. Not surprisingly, my hearty laughs were at the expense of God's chosen Apostle, George "Dubya" Bush, or more accurately, the latter's God-fearing agents and agencies. After all, with God dictating-and presumably condoning-everything that Bush and his accomplices do (well, the man himself said God has spoken to him on several occasions!), I really need to consult with my religious brethren here to find out what the hell (pardon the word, Bro) is happening.
There was a report from some US body on human rights that apparently issues its appraisals of the state of human rights in every country-other than the USA. Well, that, for me, was the first joke. If any country in the world today needs to examine its stance on human rights it's the USA. But the report criticised prison conditions in Trinidad and Tobago, and lambasted almost every other country in the world, with Iran and North Korea at the top of their list (any surprise there?). I know Bush won't read this; he is too occupied communicating with God, so why should he bother with an agnostic pipsqueak in the Caribbean? But I'm certain his man of business here, Roy Austin, must peep at my column every Sunday though he'll never admit to it.
Tell me, Roy, have you ever seen prisoners in T&T wearing shackles (leg irons a la chain gangs) the way those 500 prisoners of yours do at Guantanamo? Have you seen or even heard complaints about our prisons officers sexually abusing or taunting prisoners?
Do you know of prisoners in our jails who are there without being charged with an offence? Do you know of prisoners here being "baked" in the sun as punishment that you Americans dish out at Abu Ghraib? Your own Civil Liberties Union has condemned Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, as well as your government for "rendering" suspects to countries that are noted for torturing prisoners.
Look, Roy, I have the distinction (yeah, it's a kind of badge we ex-prisoners wear) of having been on both sides of the prison walls, and I'll tell you this much. Prison is no paradise, not even a damn one-star hotel. It was never intended to be.
And I have no doubt there are officers who abuse prisoners, or that prisoners are hurt or die under mysterious circumstances. But your prisons, not just Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, are far more primitive than ours.
Besides anyone with Muslim names that you abuse only because they are Muslims (and some be-turbaned Sikhs pass in the rush), you are barbaric to your own people! Recently, an 80-something-year-old geezer was wheelchaired to the electric chair at a California jail. And you dare criticise us, our prisons, our human rights record?
But if that was a joke, better was to come. Last week, a young, Black, Republican conservative (much like Roy, but younger), Claude Allen, appeared in court charged with stealing thousands of dollars in merchandise from several stores. Allen, described as a "good Christian" (aren't all the President's men and women God-fearing?), allegedly tried on at least 25 times over the past five months to return and collect refunds for goods he never purchased. In one instance, it was for an item worth $2.50!
The attorney is a close associate of Justice Clarence Thomas, as well as Black journalist Armstrong Williams who, it was revealed last year, accepted money from the Bush administration to write favourable columns. Allen was a domestic policy advisor to Bush until the day he was arrested. Now this fella is clearly a petty thief. In Trini-speak, we'd call him a "fowl t'ief". In fact, the White House is now a haven for thieves of all categories. Bush's friend Jack Abramoff has implicated Tom De Lay, Karl Rove and others close to the God-son in what has been described as "the largest billing fraud in the history of corporate lobbying".
VP Dick Cheney has benefited by some US$10 million through stocks he holds with Halliburton, a US$7 billion "contractor" in Iraq. Then "Scooter" Libby admitted that it was Cheney who virtually instructed him to expose CIA agent Valerie Palme, a criminal offence in any country. Iraq has become not only a war quagmire, but a cesspool of corruption. Even hurricane-stricken Louisiana is a bed of dollars for corrupt Republicans-they t'iefing from their own people!
Now, tell me, what moral authority does the American government have to pronounce on human rights or corruption or democracy in any country on Earth? None! I trust that before God smites His fake-son in that den of thieves called the White House, he issues this reprobate a ringside seat so "ah could laugh till mih belly really buss".