Blues for Allah: More Blood in the Wake of the 'War on Terror'
By Chris Floyd, Empire Burlesque
March 23 2007
Has anyone noticed that yet another "regime change" accomplished with U.S. military assistance is now collapsing into savage – and entirely predictable – internecine conflict?
The Washington Post has certainly noticed. They put this story about the growing insurgency in Somalia and the brutal reprisals against the Bush-backed, Bush-trained Ethiopian occupiers and the Somali government they installed way up near almost the very front, all the way to…page 15. But you can see why they would do that. It is actually an excellent story, written by Stephanie McCrummen, which exposes – with the hard facts of that "reality" thing that Bush and his sycophantic followers, like Fred Hiatt, have such a hard time getting a handle on – the bloodsoaked chaos that follows everywhere in the wake of Bush's "Global War on Terror." And we all know that excellent stories exposing the follies of Bush's reckless, blunderbuss militarism (no doubt the walls of the Oval Office are filled with buckshot from Bush's shotgun blasts at the occasional mosquito flitting by) are habitually buried deep in the Post's compost pit of inside pages – which was the fate of so many of the pre-war Dana Priest stories that revealed the grave weaknesses of the Bush gang's arguments for invading Iraq.
As noted here (and elsewhere), the Washington Post isn't really like Pravda (except when Hiatt gets all trembly while gazing at the portrait of the Generalissimo in his office). Pravda never would have published any story that reflected badly on the government, even one buried certain fathoms deep inside the paper. The Post has always provided stories in which crumbs of truth and reality – and sometimes whole chunks – could be unearthed from beneath the mounds of fawning spin and bogus "objectivity" of the "Matt Drudge rules our world!" school. And as the cesspool of Bush crime rises to such stenchful, overflowing levels that even a few of the Beltway barons have been forced to scratch their heads and say, "Hmm, looks like there might possibly be something slightly amiss here, if I may say so without appearing shrill or unserious," the Post is getting more and more bold in its placement of critical pieces. Why, they even put a story about the horrible neglect of wounded soldiers – a widespread scandal that had been going on for years, even as the Administration and their pom-pom boy Hiatt were excoriating war opponents for "not supporting the troops" – on the front page. And as the Scarlet Pimpernel used to say, Odd's fish, that's something, isn't it?
And to be fair, the Post has had several courageous and resolute reporters bringing home the reality of the vast war crime that Bush has instigated in Iraq. Often these stories have made it to the front page – although it's still a sad commentary on the state of our modern media when the Post must be praised for occasionally speaking the plain truth about a wretched misdeed whose monstrousness no sentient being could deny. But here too, these stories can still – just – be slotted into an acceptable Establishment narrative, a line of conventional wisdom that has slowly emerged over these years of mass murder and ruin: the charge that the Bush Administration has "mismanaged" the war, they "didn't do it right," they've made so many "blunders." The "Iraq Study Group" of heavily jowled worthies led by James Baker provided the final seal of Establishment approval for this line, which has been adopted by all the leading Democratic presidential candidates and most of the Party's power players. (It was also the basic theme of John Kerry's presidential campaign: "Hey, I can do this war better than Bush!" Wonder what a young Kerry would have thought of any Democrat who ran for president in 1972 on the theme: "I can fight this Vietnam War better than Nixon!")
And although this new narrative can encompass a good deal of genuinely harsh criticism against the government, the basic premise of the Establishment's long-running, bipartisan foreign policy remains unchallenged: "We have the right to intervene in any country in the world – covertly, overtly, with military force if need be – in order to advance the interests (and the ignorant prejudices) of our ruling cliques." The most any critic within the Establishment – especially one who aspires to high political office – is allowed to say is that a particular intervention has been "mismanaged," or ill-timed, or unproductive, or too expensive. To go beyond that, to say that a war launched by the United States is criminal and immoral, is to be cast into outer darkness, labeled "unserious," banished to the back benches with the cranks and the losers. (The current political situation gives proof to this: where are the Democratic leaders with institutional power or large national followings who will plainly say that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was an immoral act, a work of evil?)
But the underlying assumption of "unilateral action" is never seriously questioned. And it is this bipartisan assumption that drives the entire "War on Terror," which is simply a vast machine for perpetuating and expanding the military-industrialist complex. It obviously has nothing to do with combating terrorism – which it has demonstrably exacerbated – or with bringing peace and democracy to benighted lands.
And thus Somalia, a much-ravaged country that had at last won some measure of stability under its homegrown "Islamic Court" system has been plunged into murder and ruin again. (And to anticipate the tired and tiresome troll objections at this point: No, I wouldn't want to live under Somalia's Islamic Court system, any more than I would want to live under the rule of the hardline religious parties that Bush has installed in power through mass murder in Iraq. Or under the brutal religious tyranny of Bush's family friends and business partners, the Saudis. Hell, I might not even want to live in a dry county. But my lifestyle preferences don't give me the right to invade other countries (or counties!) and slaughter their people and arrange their way of life for them. One can criticize the war crime of military aggression against a country without endorsing that country's way of life in all particulars, or any of them. But I realize this is a logic beyond the dwindling band of Hiatt-like bootlickers who still keep their slavish faith in the Leader.)
Now Somalia's brief moment of stability is gone. Now the nation is occupied by a foreign power, helped in their invasion not only by American training and money but also by extensive U.S. air raids on fleeing refugees who supposedly had "al Qaeda terrorist leaders" among their ranks. (And even turning fleeing Americans, uncharged with any crime, over to the tender mercies of the Ethiopian regime. More on this story after the jump.) But goldang it, wouldn't you know the bombs missed them Qaeders and just killed a bunch of unimportant innocent black nobodies instead. Oh well, as Stalin always said: "When wood is chopped, chips fly." That's pretty much the motto of Bush's "War on Terror."
From McClatchy Newspapers (Knight-Ridder as was), which has probably been the best, most forthright mainstream service covering the Bush Imperium's wars, comes the story of a U.S. citizen who fled the violence spread by the Bush-backed Ethiopian invasion of Somalia, only to find himself thrust back into captivity in Ethiopia by American agents.
Of course, he wasn't a "real" American, in the Bushist sense. He was one of "them" -- Amir Mohamed Meshal, 24. And he committed three cardinal sins in the eyes of the Imperium: he happened to be in a "regime change" target country when the Bushists pulled the trigger; he was a Muslim; and he refused to confess to being a member of al Qaeda -- even though FBI agents in Kenya strongarmed him with the threat of turning him over to torture chambers in Ethiopia. And true to the spirit of that great American cross-dresser, J. Edgar Hoover, they were men of their word -- they gave him, a fellow American, to Ethiopia, despite admitting that there were "no outstanding charges" against him and no plans to arrest him. There is another term for that condition: "innocent," as we used to say in the old days, before the Unitary Executive descended from the Holy Crawford Cowpat and delivered us from the rule of law. Here's how McClatchy tells it:
American's jailing in Ethiopia raises questions about U.S. role
[This is the kind of context, the kind of reality that you might find -- sometimes -- in the 27th paragraph of a typical Washington Post story, yet here it is in the third paragraph. This kind of thing too had a name in the old days: we called it "journalism."]
Excerpts: A U.S. citizen who was caught fleeing the recent fighting in Somalia was questioned about links to al Qaida by the FBI in Kenya, then secretly sent back to the war-ravaged country, where he was turned over to Ethiopian forces.
Amir Mohamed Meshal, 24, is now imprisoned in Ethiopia, where the State Department's 2006 human rights report says "conditions in prisons and pre-trial detention centers remain very poor" and "there were numerous credible reports that security officials often beat or mistreated detainees."
The fact that Meshal has landed in an Ethiopian prison without any semblance of due process raises new questions about what role the rule of law plays in the Bush administration's war on terrorism. Other suspected terrorists or "enemy combatants" have been exposed to extreme interrogation methods, secretly sent to countries that practice torture, held for extended periods without charges or lawyers, or put under surveillance without court warrants.
An American official who met Meshal in Kenya but wasn't authorized to discuss his case publicly told McClatchy Newspapers that the U.S. Embassy asked Kenya to release Meshal so he could return to the United States. There are no outstanding charges against Meshal, and U.S. law enforcement officials weren't planning to take him into custody, the official said. "The Kenyan authorities decided otherwise. It's not something we have control over," the official said. State Department spokesman Tom Casey said the U.S. has protested Meshal's deportation.
Maybe the Ethiopians will be able to persuade him into confessing. If not -- well, he'll just be one more wood chip on Bush's growing pile. But who's counting? And who cares?
Human rights groups in Kenya and the United States, however, disputed the contention that the U.S. was powerless to win Meshal's release from Kenyan custody before he was deported. "Anyone who tells you that the United States doesn't have the clout to convince the Kenyans to return an American citizen is either misinformed or lying," said John Sifton of Human Rights Watch, in New York.
Kenya and Ethiopia are key allies in the Bush administration's battle against Islamic extremism in Africa, and President Bush has requested a total of more than $1 billion in aid for the two countries in fiscal 2008, making them among the largest recipients of U.S. aid in Africa....
Meshal's saga appears to have begun began late last year, when Ethiopia sent troops into Somalia to help crush the Islamic Courts Council, an alliance of militias that the Bush administration alleges is an al Qaida front. The administration backed the Ethiopian operation with training, intelligence, special forces, and aerial surveillance, and worked closely with Kenya, Ethiopia and the interim Somali government to capture suspected al Qaida members and other potential terrorists....
While Meshal was jailed in Kenya [for immigration violations after crossing the border in flight from the war], he told other detainees and Muslim human rights activists who visited the group that FBI agents had threatened to send him back to Somalia if he didn't admit he was an al Qaida member. Meshal said he was an American citizen from New Jersey, that he'd recently been in Dubai, and that he'd gone to Somalia to practice Islam under the Courts regime, which had imposed Islamic law on much of the country.
Meshal told the human rights activists that FBI agents drove him to a hotel in a U.S. Embassy car for an interview on Feb. 5. He said the agents told him to confess to being a member of al Qaida or they'd send him to Mogadishu, the Somali capital, according to Omar Mohammed of the Nairobi-based Muslim Human Rights Forum, who spoke regularly with Meshal in prison. "He was informed that he was in a lawless country and had no right to legal representation," Mohammed said. "He was being treated as a terrorist."
Mohammed said that Meshal had told him that the FBI agents had showed him photos of several people and told him they'd been taken at terrorist training camps in Somalia. Meshal said that when he denied knowing the people, the agents threatened him with torture and said they'd come back the next day, according to Mohammed...Two U.S. officials in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Meshal was turned over to Ethiopian forces in Somalia and is being held in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
Chris Floyd is the author of Empire Burlesque: The Secret History of the Bush Regime.
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