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Fisk: America's Double Standards

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  • World View <ummyakoub@yahoo.com>
    Robert Fisk: The double standards, dubious morality and duplicity of this fight against terror Meanwhile, we are ploughing on to war in Iraq, which has oil,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 13, 2003
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      Robert Fisk: The double standards, dubious morality and duplicity of
      this fight against terror

      Meanwhile, we are ploughing on to war in Iraq, which has oil, but
      avoiding war in Korea, which does not have oil
      04 January 2003

      I think I'm getting the picture. North Korea breaks all its nuclear
      agreements with the United States, throws out UN inspectors and sets
      off to make a bomb a year, and President Bush says it's "a
      diplomatic issue". Iraq hands over a 12,000-page account of its
      weapons production and allows UN inspectors to roam all over the
      country, and – after they've found not a jam-jar of dangerous
      chemicals in 230 raids – President Bush announces that Iraq is a
      threat to America, has not disarmed and may have to be invaded. So
      that's it, then.

      How, readers keep asking me in the most eloquent of letters, does he
      get away with it? Indeed, how does Tony Blair get away with it? Not
      long ago in the House of Commons, our dear Prime Minister was
      announcing in his usual schoolmasterly tones – the ones used on
      particularly inattentive or dim boys in class – that Saddam's
      factories of mass destruction were "up [pause] and running [pause]
      now." But the Dear Leader in Pyongyang does have factories that
      are "up [pause] and running [pause] now". And Tony Blair is silent.

      Why do we tolerate this? Why do Americans? Over the past few days,
      there has been just the smallest of hints that the American media –
      the biggest and most culpable backer of the White House's campaign
      of mendacity – has been, ever so timidly, asking a few questions.
      Months after The Independent first began to draw its readers'
      attention to Donald Rumsfeld's chummy personal visits to Saddam in
      Baghdad at the height of Iraq's use of poison gas against Iran in
      1983, The Washington Post has at last decided to tell its own
      readers a bit of what was going on. The reporter Michael Dobbs
      includes the usual weasel clauses ("opinions differ among Middle
      East experts... whether Washington could have done more to stop the
      flow to Baghdad of technology for building weapons of mass
      destruction"), but the thrust is there: we created the monster and
      Mr Rumsfeld played his part in doing so.

      But no American – or British – newspaper has dared to investigate
      another, almost equally dangerous, relationship that the present US
      administration is forging behind our backs: with the military-
      supported regime in Algeria. For 10 years now, one of the world's
      dirtiest wars has been fought out in this country, supposedly
      between "Islamists" and "security forces", in which almost 200,000
      people – mostly civilians – have been killed. But over the past five
      years there has been growing evidence that elements of those same
      security forces were involved in some of the bloodiest massacres,
      including the throat-cutting of babies. The Independent has
      published the most detailed reports of Algerian police torture and
      of the extrajudicial executions of women as well as men. Yet the US,
      as part of its obscene "war on terror", has cosied up to the
      Algerian regime. It is helping to re-arm Algeria's army and promised
      more assistance. William Burns, the US Assistant Secretary of State
      for the Middle East, announced that Washington "has much to learn
      from Algeria on ways to fight terrorism".

      And of course, he's right. The Algerian security forces can instruct
      the Americans on how to make a male or female prisoner believe that
      they are going to suffocate. The method – US personnel can find the
      experts in this particular torture technique working in the basement
      of the Château Neuf police station in central Algiers – is to cover
      the trussed-up victim's mouth with a rag and then soak it with
      cleaning fluid. The prisoner slowly suffocates. There's also, of
      course, the usual nail-pulling and the usual wires attached to
      penises and vaginas and – I'll always remember the eye-witness
      description – the rape of an old woman in a police station, from
      which she emerged, covered in blood, urging other prisoners to

      Some of the witnesses to these abominations were Algerian police
      officers who had sought sanctuary in London. But rest assured, Mr
      Burns is right, America has much to learn from the Algerians.
      Already, for example – don't ask why this never reached the
      newspapers – the Algerian army chief of staff has been warmly
      welcomed at Nato's southern command headquarters at Naples.

      And the Americans are learning. A national security official
      attached to the CIA divulged last month that when it came to
      prisoners, "our guys may kick them around a little in the adrenaline
      of the immediate aftermath (sic)." Another US "national security"
      official announced that "pain control in wounded patients is a very
      subjective thing". But let's be fair. The Americans may have learnt
      this wickedness from the Algerians. They could just as well have
      learned it from the Taliban.

      Meanwhile, inside the US, the profiling of Muslims goes on apace. On
      17 November, thousands of Iranians, Iraqis, Syrians, Libyans,
      Afghans, Bahrainis, Eritreans, Lebanese, Moroccans, Omanis, Qataris,
      Somalis, Tunisians, Yemenis and Emiratis turned up at federal
      offices to be finger-printed. The New York Times – the most chicken
      of all the American papers in covering the post-9/11 story –
      revealed (only in paragraph five of its report, of course)
      that "over the past week, agency officials... have handcuffed and
      detained hundreds of men who showed up to be finger-printed. In some
      cases the men had expired student or work visas; in other cases, the
      men could not provide adequate documentation of their immigration

      In Los Angeles, the cops ran out of plastic handcuffs as they herded
      men off to the lockup. Of the 1,000 men arrested without trial or
      charges after 11 September, many were native-born Americans.

      Indeed, many Americans don't even know what the chilling acronym of
      the "US Patriot Act" even stands for. "Patriot" is not a reference
      to patriotism. The name stands for the "United and Strengthening
      America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and
      Obstruct Terrorism Act". America's $200m (£125m) "Total Awareness
      Programme" will permit the US government to monitor citizens' e-mail
      and internet activity and collect data on the movement of all
      Americans. And although we have not been told about this by our
      journalists, the US administration is now pestering European
      governments for the contents of their own citizens' data files. The
      most recent – and most preposterous – of these claims came in a US
      demand for access to the computer records of the French national
      airline, Air France, so that it could "profile" thousands of its
      passengers. All this is beyond the wildest dreams of Saddam and the
      Dear Leader Kim.

      The new rules even worm their way into academia. Take the friendly
      little university of Purdue in Indiana, where I lectured a few weeks
      ago. With federal funds, it's now setting up an "Institute for
      Homeland Security", whose 18 "experts" will include executives from
      Boeing and Hewlett-Packard and US Defence and State Department
      officials, to organise "research programmes" around "critical
      mission areas". What, I wonder, are these areas to be? Surely
      nothing to do with injustice in the Middle East, the Arab-Israeli
      conflict or the presence of thousands of US troops on Arab lands.
      After all, it was Richard Perle, the most sinister of George Bush's
      pro-Israeli advisers, who stated last year that "terrorism must be

      Meanwhile, we are – on that very basis – ploughing on to war in
      Iraq, which has oil, but avoiding war in Korea, which does not have
      oil. And our leaders are getting away with it. In doing so, we are
      threatening the innocent, torturing our prisoners and "learning"
      from men who should be in the dock for war crimes. This, then, is
      our true memorial to the men and women so cruelly murdered in the
      crimes against humanity of 11 September 2001.

      12 January 2003 11:39




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