When the time eventually comes to make historic documentaries about the Iraq war, there is one scene that will leave no doubt about the dark and sinister nature of George W. Bush. The timing is a week before mid-term elections. Along with his senior aides, the president is holding a videoconference with Nouri Al-Maliki, the Prime Minister of Iraq. After an extraordinary public feud, the two men kiss and make up in front of the cameras. But both walk away from the encounter -- which was initiated at the request of Maliki -- with the understanding that the United States will abandon efforts to tackle the death squads in Iraq.
The hastily arranged meeting was the result of a little spat between the administration and the Iraqi government on how best to deal with reign of terror in Iraq, largely attributed to Iranian trained and indoctrinated Shia militants that have infiltrated Maliki’s security forces.
A week earlier, the American military had attempted to arrest a notorious death squad leader by the name of Abu Deraa. But because the Prime Minister’s political allies are also the parties and militias that field the death squads, Maliki intervened to prevent similar ‘violations of Iraqi sovereignty’ from taking place in the future. As the Commander In Chief of the Iraqi Armed Forces, Maliki was making a power play and exercising his ‘right’ to protect his death squad allies from any interference by Bush’s troops.
But Maliki didn’t stop there. He demanded more American funding and accelerated training of the very same Iraqi security forces that moonlight as death squads. And, of course, Bush had no other option but to comply with the absurd request to provide American tax dollars to further enhance the criminal capabilities of the militia-infested police and army.
There is no exaggerating the extent to which Iraqi security forces -- especially the police -- have become auxiliary forces that owe their allegiances to the Shia militias and parties that engineered Maliki’s rise to power. Even War Party media operatives like the Washington Post can no longer hide the fact that there is little that distinguishes the Iraqi police from the Shia death squads. “The American soldiers and civilians who train the Iraqis are constantly on guard against the possibility that the police might turn against them. Even in the police headquarters for all of western Baghdad, one of the safest police buildings in the capital, the training team will not remove their body armor or helmets. An Armed soldier is assigned to protect each trainer.” (Washington Post, 10/31/2006)
An exasperated American trainer, John Moore, is quoted as saying, “We don’t know who the hell we’re teaching: Are they police or are they militia.”
We now have Judith Miller’s New York Times acknowledging that “much of Iraq is a place without rules or laws, in which armed gangs, sometimes dressed as police officers, can come into any house and do exactly as they please.” (Sabrine Torernice, NYT, 10/29/2006).
Of course, to get a clearer picture of the nature of the evil that stalks Iraq, we can’t be entirely dependent on the American media moguls who played a pivotal role in marketing this murderous venture. To measure the extent of the blank evasive space one regularly encounters in the America’s mainstream media, contrast their coverage to a recent article by Kim Sengupta, “Operation Enduring Chaos: The Retreat of the Coalition and the Rise of the Militias” (The Independent, 10/31/2006).
This is a shadowy struggle, which involves tortured prisoners huddled in dungeons, murder victims mutilated with knives and electric drills, and distraught families searching for relations who have been “disappeared.” Iraq’s savage sectarian war is now regarded as a greater obstacle to any semblance of peace returning than the insurgency. Yet, ironically, the death squads are the result of US policy. At the beginning of last year, with no end to the Sunni insurgency in sight, the Pentagon was reported to have decided to train Shia and Kurdish fighters to carry out “irregular missions.” The policy, exposed in the US media, was called the “Salvador Option” after the American-backed counter-insurgency in Latin America more than 20 years ago, which led to 70,000 deaths and countless instances of human rights abuse.
As the US and British policies in Iraq reach the last stages of unraveling, there are increasingly frantic calls to the Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, from Washington and London to rein in the government-sponsored death squads. The problem is that the militias, well armed and entrenched, are connected to political parties who know that Mr. Al Maliki is dependent on their support.
Just one little correction needs to be made to Sengupta’s account. It wasn’t the “US media” that exposed the Salvador option, it was Seymour Hersh, the legendary journalist who broke the story on the My Lai massacre and prison abuse at Abu Ghraib. For every new exposé, the mass media moguls reward Hersh with an extended exile to the wilderness of the alternative press.
From the earliest days of the American occupation, rumors began to emerge that operatives recruited from the ranks of the Badr Brigades were systematically infiltrating Iraqi Security Forces. For those who haven’t being paying attention, Badr is an Iraqi Shia militia that was trained in exile by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. It is the armed wing of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), a political creature that was established and financed by the theocratic regime in Tehran. Aside from SCIRI operatives, the Iraqi Security Forces recruited militia members from Moqtada Sadr’s Mahdi Army and militants from Maliki’s Dawa party.
The man responsible for masterminding the recruitment and integration of death squads into the new Iraqi security forces was Bayan Jabr, a SCIRI leader who first appeared on the scene on Emperor Paul Bremer’s task force assigned to implement a purification program targeting Baathist military officers and bureaucrats
In April 2005, Bayan Jabr was appointed interior minister in Iraq’s transitional government. Ten thousand miles away, Professor Juan Cole, an expert on the Middle East from the University of Michigan, had Jabar on his radar screen. He set off the alarm bells. “Bayan Jabar is clearly an old time revolutionary deeply committed to SCIRI’s paramilitary actions. I’d say there is likely to be some trepidation among Iraqi moderates about his now taking over Interior.” I mention Juan Cole because he is exactly the kind of seasoned well informed Middle Eastern analyst whose talents could have been deployed to chart more rational policies in Iraq. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the neo-con seal of approval to qualify as a mainstream pundit.
Sure enough, within one month of his appointment, Bayan Jabr, technically Iraq’s senior police officer, put his death squads out on the streets of Baghdad and started a purge of Sunni officers.
“In May 2005, Shiite militia groups in Iraq began depositing corpses into the dumps of Baghdad. The victims, overwhelmingly Sunni, were typically handcuffed, their corpses showing signs of torture -- broken skulls, burn marks, electric drill holes; by that October, the death toll attributed to such groups had reached 500.” (Harper’s Magazine, 08/06/2006.)
Where is Bayan Jabr today? He’s the Iraqi finance minister and a key ally of Maliki.
The latest media farce is to portray Nouri Al-Maliki as a man out to curb the violence and chaos in our Mesopotamian colony. According to this fable, The Prime Minister is caught between Iraq and a hard place, forced to navigate a treacherous path between a desire to assert the Iraqi State’s monopoly of violence over ‘rogue’ elements in the security forces and the Shia parties that engineered his ascension to power.
There is only one problem with this tale of Maliki’s woes. The Prime Minister is the defacto chairman of the death squads, a radical partisan leader who is out to insure Shia supremacy in the new Iraq. Maliki, Bayan Jabr and Moqtada Sadr are cut of the same ideological cloth. They are men who have spent a lifetime in the quest to convert Iraq into a Shia theocracy -- by any means necessary.
The Maliki/Bush videoconference will go down as one of the single most important events that will shape the future of that tormented nation. It was at once a surrender ceremony and a coup d’etat. Maliki walked away with a license to continue operating his death squads and Bush was forced to accept the burden of training more rank and file assassins.
What makes the American hand so weak is Bush’s face. The president can’t very well go public with an announcement that Iraq’s new management is made up of the same parties and militias that are in command and control of the death squads. Because then he would have to explain why the Pentagon and CIA didn’t notice that they were building and training sectarian security forces. Which in turn would lead to questions as to whether the administration gave early sanction to this army of grim reapers in the belief that they could later be controlled after completing their assigned ‘Salvador Option’ chores.
Losing face is a huge deal for a guy like Bush. He is a media phenomenon created entirely out of a single substance: image. So, when the day came for him to decide how to negotiate new arrangements with the CEO of the Iraqi death squads, his only concern was to make sure he could walk away with his ‘Victory’ talking points intact. It’s hard to imagine that Maliki didn’t understand that he had Bush in a vice grip. The Prime Minister’s aides said as much.
So here we sit, one week before a pivotal mid-term election that might or might not curb the power of the pathetic monster in the White House and Dick ‘Waterboarding’ Cheney -- the vice president of torture. Even at this late hour, the vagaries of domestic politics allow this loser -- the scrawniest most inept commander in chief in American history -- to go about making all kinds of rash promises about a secret plan for victory in Iraq.
Will Americans ever wake up and smell the stench of the carnage in Iraq? Maybe it would help if the Baghdad morgue delivered a few disfigured victims of Maliki’s death squads for public display in the Rose Garden. Let Laura go down and inspect the skulls for drill holes after morning coffee. Imagine if George Bush had to jog around the physical evidence of last night’s Iraqi death toll before making another victory speech. Would it cause the man to reflect on the mayhem he has unleashed? Probably not, but it’s worth a try.
A few dead samples from the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi victims might however effect the tender sensibilities of the American public -- a population that has been rendered complacent by the media’s sanitized coverage and complicit by a collective lack of curiosity.
Americans need visual and tangible evidence of the tragedy in Iraq. So far, the death squads roaming the streets of Baghdad have failed to pass the smell test -- their odor is scentless. If the stench of mutilated Iraqi corpses could invade American nostrils, Bush would have some explaining to do.
Iraq’s victims are not real because we don’t have to step over them on the way to work. If high school kids had to memorize the names of the hundred youngest American soldiers to die in this war of choice, they’d notice the other 2,700. America’s indifference to carnage in Iraq is a unique psychosis the world wouldn’t understand. It is a collective malady induced by legions of willing media collaborators.
Bush will encounter little resistance in synchronizing his ‘victory in Iraq’ campaign with a deal to surrender Mesopotamia to Maliki’s death squads. Because very few Americans will notice enough to care.
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