Closing the Gap Between Torturer and Victim

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Andrew Cockburn’s new book, Rumsfeld,
the gap between rampant power and its faraway victims is closed.
Donald Rumsfeld, US secretary of defense until last year and a designer
of the Iraq bloodbath, is revealed as personally directing from
his office in the Pentagon the torture of fellow human beings, exploiting
"individual phobias, such as fear of dogs, to induce stress"
and use of "a wet towel and dripping water to induce the misperception
of suffocation." Cockburn’s documented evidence shows that
other Bush mafiosi, such as Paul Wolfowitz, now president of the
World Bank, "had already agreed that Rumsfeld should approve
all but the most severe options, such as the wet towel, without

In Washington,
I asked Ray McGovern, formerly a senior CIA officer, what he made
of Norman Mailer’s remark that America had entered a pre-fascist
state. "I hope he’s right," he replied, "because
there are others saying we are already in a fascist mode. When you
see who is controlling the means of production here, when you see
who is controlling the newspapers and periodicals, and the TV stations,
from which most Americans take their news, and when you see how
the so-called war on terror is being conducted, you begin to understand
where we are headed … It’s quite something that the nuclear threat
today should be seen first and foremost as coming from the United
States of America and Great Britain."

McGovern was
the author of the president’s daily CIA intelligence brief. I interviewed
him more than three years ago, and his prescient words are as striking
today as Cockburn’s revelation of Rumsfeld’s secret life is illuminating.
His description of fascism within a nominally free society recalls
George Orwell’s warning that totalitarianism does not require a
totalitarian state.

The lies that
have caused this extremely dangerous time are understood and rejected
by the majority of humanity. This was illustrated vividly on 15-16
February 2003 when some 30 million people took to the streets of
cities around the world, including the greatest demonstration in
British history. It was illustrated again the other day in Latin
America, which George W Bush on tour sought to reclaim for America’s
lost "backyard." "The distinguished visitor,"
noted one commentator in Caracas, "was received with fear and

There are many
connections in Latin America to the suffering in the Middle East.
The crushing of popular, reformist governments by the US and the
setting up of torture regimes, from Guatemala to Chile, have echoes
from Iran to Afghanistan. The current attacks on the Chávez
government in Venezuela by the media, which Ray McGovern describes
as being "domesticated by their wish to serve," are essential
in disclaiming the right of the poor to find another way.

Elected last
December with a record landslide of votes cast by three-quarters
of the eligible population — his 11th major election victory — Hugo
Chávez expresses the kind of genuine exuberant democracy
long ago abandoned in Britain, where the political class offers
instead the arthritic pirouetting of Tony Blair, a criminal, and
treasurer Gordon Brown, the paymaster of imperial adventures fought
by 18-year-old soldiers who, on their return home, are so ill treated
that there is no one to change their colostomy bag.

having all but got rid of the deadly IMF from Latin America, dares
to use the wealth from Venezuela’s oil to unite the Latin peoples
and to expel a foreign economic system that calls itself liberal
and is the source of historic suffering. He is supported by governments
and by millions across South America from whom he derives his mandate.

You would not
know this on either side of the Atlantic unless you studied carefully.
The propaganda that converts a lively, open democracy to an "authoritarian"
dictatorship is written on the rusted crosses of Salvador Allende’s
comrades, of whom the same was said. It is disseminated by the embittered
effete whose liberal hero was Blair, until he made an embarrassing
mess, and who now claim the respectability of "the left"
in order to disguise their mentoring by the likes of Wolfowitz,
their promotion of Dick Cheney’s ludicrous "world Islamic empire"
and, above all, their passion for wars whose spilt blood is never

15, 2007

was born and educated in Sydney, Australia. He has been
a war correspondent, filmmaker and playwright. Based in London,
he has written from many countries and has twice won British journalism’s
highest award, that of "Journalist of the Year," for his
work in Vietnam and Cambodia. His new book, Tell
Me No Lies: Investigative Journalism and Its Triumphs
, is
published by Jonathan Cape in June. This article was first published
in the New Statesman.

John Pilger 2007

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