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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Iraq: As Free as They're Allowed to be

You ever notice that what George W. Bush says and what George W. Bush does are two different animals? It's often the case that what the man says makes a lot of good sense and in those cases it's an absolutely lead pipe cinch that he's doing the exact opposite. There are two Dubyas -- the guy he wants you to believe he is and the guy he is.

The guy he wants you to believe he is is a guy interested in justice and freedom and the rights of man. The guy he is isn't. It was the guy he wants you to believe he is who addressed World Economic Forum in Sharm Al Sheikh, Egypt.

New York Times:

After basking in a showy celebration of America’s close ties with Israel, President Bush criticized other Middle East leaders on Sunday, prodding them to expand their economies, offer equal opportunity to women and embrace democracy if they want peace to become reality.

"Too often in the Middle East, politics has consisted of one leader in power and the opposition in jail," Bush told the assembled wealthy. "The time has come for nations across the Middle East to abandon these practices and treat their people with the dignity and respect they deserve."

Pretty words made meaningless by Bush's actions in Iraq.

Associated Press has a great piece on the US and justice in Iraq -- spoiler alert: because of the US, there is no justice in Iraq.

In the eyes of Iraqi justice, Yahya Ali Humadi is a free man.

To the U.S. military, he's another of the detainees in yellow jumpsuits held at the sprawling Camp Bucca in southern Iraq.

Humadi -- ordered released nine months ago after an Iraqi judge dropped all charges -- now spends his days in a legal limbo. It's one that has confronted and confounded thousands of other Iraqis since 2003 who have been freed by their nation's courts but remained in U.S. custody.

"I don't know why the U.S. army brought him to an Iraqi court, if they intend to keep him for an unlimited time," said Humadi's lawyer, Samiya al-Baghdadi.

The American military, however, sees no contradiction.

Bush insists that Iraq is a sovereign nation, freed from the iron fist of a dictator. However, the truth is that there's a new dictator in Iraq, whose fist is just as ferrous, and that dictator's name is George W. Bush. Rulings of the Iraqi courts are rendered meaningless by the occupying force. Iraq governs when it's allowed to govern. In all other cases, Iraq can damned well sit down and shut up.

When the Iraqi courts throw out charges against one of their citizens, the US often ignores the ruling. "Commanders say the current international mandate in Iraq, as well as general codes of war, allow them to hold any prisoner until the detainee is no longer considered a threat to U.S. forces," AP reports. "Local law and court rulings do not apply, they add."

Not surprisingly, Iraq reflects Bush; the Iraq that exists and the Iraq that Bush wants you to believe exists are two different things. Looking back at the occupation of Iraq is a pretty mind-bending mix of history and BS. That Bush could lecture the WEF on human rights is a maddening bit of hypocrisy. He's lucky they didn't throw rotten vegetables at him.

According to the AP, Iraqi courts have cleared somewhere around 3,000 people that the US keeps imprisoned. Justice and law are meaningless in Iraq, the courts apparently are shams. There is no justice in Iraq, because the US stands in the way. "The U.S. army's refusal to release my husband shows that the Americans do not care about how Iraqis suffer," Humadis' wife told AP. It's hard to dispute her claim.

And the situation's about to get worse. Iraqi authorities are on the verge of instituting a massive amnesty program. This would affect as many as 27,000 prisoners held by Iraqis and 22,000 held by the US. For the record, the Bush administration "strongly supports" the amnesty. But what the Bush administration says on the record and what it supports in practice are also two different animals. Given history, you have to take Bush's words with a bucket of salt.

After all, ask Bush about Iraq and he'll tell you it's a free democracy. But peel the edges and you'll find very little freedom and very little democracy. Iraq is a nation on a very short leash and her government is free to make meaningless rulings and laws which the US feels free to ignore. "Freedom" doesn't mean squat in Iraq.

"There are basic issues of access to judicial review and access to due process rights that are not being met," says Joseph Logan of Human Rights Watch. Like detainees at Guantanamo Bay, prisoners in Iraq exist in a basically lawless state where there is no court system, to appeals, no way out. Iraqi court rulings are merely insult in addition to injury -- pointless and meaningless promises of justice that are rarely, if ever, kept.

Imagine this being your state. Imagine living in a nation where every trial is a show trial, where being arrested is a de facto finding of guilt, and every step in the legal process after arrest is a futile, useless pretense. Whose side would you be on?

This is just one more example of how Bush and the neocons are always wrong, of how their great visions of a superman future ignore a present populated by ordinary people. You can't treat people so poorly and expect them to thank you for it. Hell, you can't even expect them not to fight you. And, when you talk about freedom and democracy and respect for human rights and justice, you can't expect them not to laugh in your damned face.

When Bush addressed the Word Economic Forum in Egypt, he spouted the purest BS known to man. No one believed a damned thing he said and no one recognized his authority to speak on the subject of justice. Those weren't stupid people -- as much as Bush hoped they would be -- and neither are you.

Maybe that's what this whole neocon world domination dream requires -- very stupid people. God knows the neocon dreamers are stupid, maybe the whole thing would work if we all were too.


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