Gitmo Sings the Tombstone Blues

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I was going
to write something about the
prisoner suicides
at Bush’s Cuban concentration camp, and the
Pentagon’s ludicrous "explanation"
that the deaths
were, simultaneously, both a carefully planned act of "asymmetric
warfare" and also an outburst of pure mumbo-jumbo among primitive
darkies who had somehow concocted the mystical belief that if three
of them died then all the prisoners would be freed.

(Sidenote:
The utter contempt in which the Bush Regime holds the American people
was clearly on display here: they’re not even trying to make
a coherent, plausible defense of the torturous limboland they’ve
devised in Gitmo anymore. They just say anything, even if it contradicts
itself, anything to muddy the waters, knowing that people –
or at least the ever-servile media – will swallow it and move
on to the next news cycle. But they also don’t care if people don’t
swallow it; the blatant Bushist attitude toward public relations
now is: "This is our story, we’re sticking to it – and
what are you going to do about it if you don’t like it? Nothing,
punk." The self-contradictory explanation of the Gitmo suicides
– rational, deliberate, intelligent act of guerilla warfare
and crack-brained hoodoo from exotic lands – is strangely reminiscent
of the Regime’s take on the 9/11 attacks: an act of war so rationally
and intelligently planned that not even the world’s largest intelligence
apparatus could detect it, much less stop it – and a lucky
shot from a bunch of half-baked kooks dreaming about 72 virgins
in Heaven.)

So I was going
to write about all this, and how the suicides bring home the morally
corrosive nature of torture and inhumane treatment, and how the
aggressive, hyper-macho bluster of insecure national leaders create
the noxious atmosphere in which atrocity and dehumanization thrive….but
then I remembered that Bob Dylan had covered all this more than
40 years ago, in the middle of another godforsaken military adventure
that saw torture, murder and mass destruction wielded in the name
of democracy and freedom, way back when George W. Bush was still
a high-school creep chugging brewskis and chasing tail, long before
his apotheosis as the law-transcending War Leader. It was these
lines from "Tombstone
Blues
," from the 1965 album, Highway
61 Revisited
:

Well, John
the Baptist after torturing a thief
Looks up at his hero the Commander-in-Chief
Saying, "Tell me great hero, but please make it brief,
Is there a hole for me to get sick in?"

The Commander-in-Chief
answers him while chasing a fly,
Saying, "Death to all those who would whimper and cry!"
And dropping a bar bell he points to the sky,
Saying, "The sun’s not yellow, it’s chicken."

What more can
you say about our current situation? Those who are given the illegal
orders from the leaders of a government they have been taught to
respect and believe are
the only ones who might feel troubled
at the moral hell they’ve
been plunged into; but the Commander-in-Chief is too full of pseudo
he-man blather and sexually anxious swagger to notice or care.

But of course,
Dylan wrote these lines four decades ago; this stain goes deep in
our republic, it’s been around a long time: the bellicose liars
of the Bush Regime are only its latest manifestation.

June
14, 2006

Chris
Floyd, Global Eye columnist for the Moscow Times, is the
author of Empire
Burlesque: The Secret History of the Bush Regime
.

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