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    Mai Lai and Colin Powell American Politics Journal Feb. 6, 2003 - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - Colin Powell, Pod Person?
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      Mai Lai and Colin Powell

      American Politics Journal
      Feb. 6, 2003

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      Colin Powell, Pod Person?
      by Alan Bisbort

      Feb. 6, 2003 -- HARTFORD (apj.us) -- Has Colin Powell
      been taken over by the pod people? Is this Invasion of
      the Body Snatchers, The Sequel to The Sequel?

      One can't help but wonder this while watching the
      retired general in front of the United Nations with
      his little spools of film and vials of
      "evidence," his eyes as rheumy and beady and bloodshot
      as Rumsfeld's or Cheney's. Has he "gone over"? This
      is the Secretary of State, mind you, the
      president's presumed chief diplomat and global
      peacekeeper. And here he is beating the drums for war,
      queasily holding his little cannisters the
      way one holds a stool sample or urine specimen at the
      doctor's office.

      Maybe those initial fears -- which sounded like
      partisan grumbling at the time of his confirmation
      hearings -- about handing the job of maintaining peace
      to a warrior were well-grounded. Maybe what seemed
      to be marginalized grouses about giving this soldier
      such a delicate diplomatic duty as the Secretary of
      State were actually quite justified.

      Let us never forget what happened on March 16, 1968,
      in the village of My Lai in Vietnam, where between 172
      and 347 people were systematically executed by
      American soldiers. All of the victims were unarmed
      elderly, women and children (some little babies), even
      while the American press officer -- the proto-Ari
      Fleischer -- filed a release that reported
      128 Viet Cong had been killed and 13 suspects had been
      detained. The reason the numbers of dead above wavered
      so widely was that, by the time Seymour Hersh did what
      great American reporters used to feel was
      their job -- investigate and expose crimes -- the
      bodies were rotted in their ditches and some remains
      had been disturbed and dispersed by the
      continued traumas of war. But it was a massacre, plain
      and simple.

      Colin Powell, then Major Powell, was put in charge of
      investigating it. Actually, he was told by his
      commanding officer to handle the matter
      of a letter that had been sent by one of the soldiers
      who'd been at My Lai on March 16, and whose conscience
      was tormented by the experience. Rather than
      investigate what the soldier told him, Powell
      investigated the soldier and concluded, in his report,
      that only "isolated incidents" had occurred and that
      "[i]n direct refutation of this portrayal is
      the fact that relations between American soldiers and
      the Vietnamese people are excellent."

      The case was closed. Major Powell handled his first
      diplomatic duty with great aplomb and delicacy. He, of
      course, has never adequately addressed My Lai to this
      day and avoids all questions related to it.

      So, maybe Colin Powell didn't have his body and soul
      snatched by Rove's Pod People. Maybe he was like this
      all along, a conscienceless lackey who would do
      whatever his commanding officer told him to do. Sure
      fooled me, though. I thought the guy had some stature
      and decency. Or maybe Colin has simply cracked under
      the pressure from these other guys in
      the Bush Adminstration who have pus and petroleum and
      bile running through their veins and ducts instead of
      blood and sweat and tears.

      But here he is, America's peacekeeper, begging for war
      on the world's largest stage, at the world's biggest
      venue. There is a palpable sense of desperation to
      Colin Powell now. He is not only becoming the beard
      for the Boy Who Cried Wolf, he is watching his legacy
      slowly gurgle down the commode of history, stuffed in
      with all the other unflushable excrement from the Bush

      Partly because I had mistakenly thought Powell was a
      voice of moderation, I am really feeling desperate
      now. Nightly my dreams are of incinerated cities with
      stick-like Giacometti figures lurching
      through smoldering landscapes, bloated corpses splayed
      in ditches with vultures pecking at their entrails,
      ribbons of pink viscera strewn between
      trees. The other night Nixon's cobwebbed corpse rose
      from his tomb to do battle with Kim Il Sung. It seemed
      like comic relief after my dreams about Bush and

      My letters to my Senators and Congresswoman were, not
      so long ago, well-reasoned (I thought), unhysterical
      and bullet-pointed arguments about why so and so
      should not vote for such and such piece of
      legislation favored by Bush. Now my letters are abject
      pleas that contain sentences like, "My wife and I are
      terrified of the Bush Adminstration. We are seriously
      considering taking our 19-month-old son
      and moving to another country to get out of harm's
      way. We do not want to be incinerated. Please do
      something. Anything. The situation is
      desperate." Or rhetorical questions like, "Honorable
      Sir, do you wake up in the middle of the night, sit up
      blinking your eyes in horror, knowing that you gave
      this fake cowboy and sociopathic ex-governor unlimited

      power? Do you regret this? If not, what fucking planet
      are you living on that my family and I are definitely
      not living on?"

      And there's Colin Powell, the former last great hope
      of the American people, the guy that poll after poll
      show is more trusted than any other Bush staffer (in
      the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, he was trusted
      by 63% of respondents to 24% for Bush), there he is
      begging, pleading, cajoling for carnage.

      Will we ever have another day in this once great
      nation when we are not being whipped into war frenzy
      and terrorist fear by even the likes of Colin Powell?

      Showdown With Saddam my ass. It's more like Invasion
      of the Bush Body Bag Snatchers.

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      Alan Bisbort is a columnist for the Hartford Advocate.
      His most recent book, co-written with Parke
      Puterbaugh, is California Beaches, the 3rd
      edition of which will be published in April by

      War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.
      --Major General Smedley Butler, USMC

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