Whom To Believe

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On
June 1 Reuters reported: "The death toll for American troops
in Iraq rose in May to the highest level since January, with the
U.S. military saying on Tuesday insurgents have doubled their number
of daily attacks since April."

Dahr
Jamail, an unembedded reporter in Iraq, said on May 30: "Things
are getting worse by the day: The mayhem continues in Iraq, with
today at least 40 people dead, including five US soldiers in Diyala
province as the meltdown of the failed US-led occupation continues."

Sandwiched
between the two, on May 31 Vice President Cheney said on Larry King
Live that the insurgency in Iraq is "in the last throes,"
and predicted that the fighting will end before the Bush administration
leaves office.

Cheney’s
assertion should have been expected as damage control was needed.
At the end of May, ABC News reported that an unnamed Defense
Department official said the U.S. was no longer assured of victory.
And Newsday’s Washington Bureau Chief reported that no major
road was safe and Iraq was on the verge of civil war.

Hopefully,
for the sake of U.S. soldiers and the people of Iraq Vice President
Cheney is right. However, we should not forget that before the invasion
it was Cheney who predicted the U.S. would be welcomed as liberators
and who told the world on August 26, 2002: "Simply stated,
there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction."
More likely than not, Vice President Cheney’s comments will go down
in the annals of U.S. war leadership with the statements made by
the U.S. Commander in Chief that – "Peace is at hand"
– during the Vietnam War.

On
another front, President Bush called a report by Amnesty International
"absurd" for its charge that the United States is mistreating
terrorist suspects in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, saying accusations were
being made by "people who hate America." At a Rose Garden
press conference on May 31 the president exclaims: "It’s absurd.
It’s an absurd allegation. We’ve investigated every single complaint
against the detainees. It seemed like to me they based some of their
decisions on the word of – and the allegations – by people
who were held in detention, people who hate America …"

President
Bush’s comments were echoed by senior members of the administration
who all lined up to blast the report in a thou-protest-too-much
coordinated attack on Amnesty.

What
was the administration so defensive about? A thorough and damning
report demonstrating the ongoing abuses by the Bush Administration
in its treatment of prisoners. Dr. William F. Schulz, Executive
Director of Amnesty International USA, stated in response to President
Bush:

"What
is ‘absurd’ is President Bush’s attempt to deny the deliberate
policies of his Administration, which has detained individuals
without charge or trial in prisons at Guantanamo Bay, Bagram Air
Base and other locations. What is ‘absurd’ and indeed outrageous
is the Bush Administration’s failure to undertake a full independent
investigation, and that completed reports into human rights violations
in these prisons remain classified and unseen. The network of
secret detention centers operated by the US around the world must
be opened to scrutiny by independent human rights groups and those
responsible for torture, no matter how senior, must be held accountable.
It is also worth noting that this administration never finds it
‘absurd’ when we criticize Cuba, China, or when we condemned the
violations in Iraq under Saddam Hussein."

No
doubt the idea of holding U.S. officials accountable "no matter
how senior" and urging "scrutiny" of U.S. detention
centers did not please leaders of the Administration. President
Bush has been very successful at avoiding scrutiny by appointing
so-called ‘independent’ commissions with limited mandates, relying
on the Republican controlled Congress as well as internal DoD investigations
and not providing prisoners with due process so they can air their
grievances in court.

The
Amnesty
International Report
said of the United States:

"The
blatant disregard for international human rights and humanitarian
law in the ‘war on terror’ continued to make a mockery of President
George Bush's claims that the USA was the global champion of human
rights. Images of detainees in US custody tortured in Abu Ghraib
prison in Iraq shocked the world. War crimes in Iraq, and mounting
evidence of the torture and ill-treatment of detainees in US custody
in other countries, sent an unequivocal message to the world that
human rights may be sacrificed ostensibly in the name of security."

The
truth in this matter could be resolved merely by having a truly
independent commission investigate the allegations. Or, even more
appropriately having a special prosecutor investigate abuses as
senior
Republicans in the Senate promised
– John Warner, Lindsay
Graham and John McCain stated that everyone culpable would be held
accountable, no matter how senior when the torture photos were released
but have taken no action to live up to their promise.

Throughout
history "truth
has been the first casualty of war"
and this continues
to be the case in Iraq. The disconnect between realty and the statements
of the administration so far seems to be failing to convince the
U.S. public as support for getting out of Iraq is increasing and
the popularity of President Bush’s handling of the war is decreasing.
Indeed, as the credibility of the Administration fades their disconnect
from reality will undercut them further.

June
3, 2005

Kevin
Zeese [send him mail]
is a director of Democracy
Rising.US
. You can comment on this article by visiting
the blog
.

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