Even though the Bush administration is now in full spin-and-smear mode, the truly striking thing about their languorous response to Katrina is how little they disguised their lack of concern for residents of the Gulf Coast. That picture of Bush playing the guitar in San Diego during the magic 72-hour window of opportunity for saving lives just doesn’t compute as a lapse in judgment. This administration is nothing if not media- and image-conscious. They do not lose control of the visual.
Their slow-walking of aid to Louisiana, the continuing focus on law and order over search and rescue, the alternately stern -- “zero tolerance for lawlessness” -- and forgetful attitudes toward people who were literally dying for want of help: all this was right out in the open. As far as I’m concerned, it reads like a warning.
What it says is we are entering a new phase in this rightwing takeover, a phase that is marked, appropriately enough, by a new, glitzier approach to the anniversary of 9/11. While the Bushitters have been shameless in their exploitation of this catastrophe from the first, this year they finally busted out with a real celebration in the form of the so-called Freedom March, culminating in a performance by Clint Black, who sang his pro-war anthem, “I raq and roll.” The march’s stated purpose is to support our troops, but the obvious intention is to reinforce the false, discredited, and disavowed link between 9/11 and the war in Iraq.
What we really need is a Truth March. Wouldn’t it be great if we saw a march designed to show the truth about what’s been going on?
We could step off with little children tossing flower petals and chocolate kisses to our soldiers to commemorate how the Iraqis, those ingrates, were supposed to greet us. The first ranks of soldiers should be those who’ve lost limbs and faculties in the war, those who’ve been exposed to depleted uranium, the long-term, uncounted casualties.
We should have a float that continuously loops George W. Bush admitting that there is no connection between 9/11 and Iraq.
Here’s a float with a portable jail. Who’s inside? Judy Miller, the New York Times reporter who relied on Iranian double-agent Ahmed Chalabi as her source for all those front-page stories about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And outside the jail, trying unsuccessfully to hide behind Judy, stands none other than master-leaker Karl Rove! Speaking of leaks, if I had my way, the next float would contain speakers blasting the shrieks of young boys being raped at Abu Ghraib prison while video cameras were rolling. Seymour Hersh says, “The worst about all of them is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They [the Bush administration] are in total terror it’s going to come out.”
What could follow that? How about a float celebrating the Iraqi elections? That’s what makes it all worthwhile, right? The screens on this float show proud Iraqis holding up purple fingers to celebrate their very first democratic elections, fading into Safia Taleb al-Suhail, Iraqi ambassador to Egypt, sitting next to Laura Bush during the 2005 State of the Union address, then standing and holding up her own index finger, purple from the ink used to vote in the elections. That image, in turn, fades into Suhail a few weeks ago saying, “When we came back from exile, we thought we were going to improve rights and the position of women. But look what has happened -- we have lost all the gains we made over the last 30 years. It’s a big disappointment.”
Walking the parade route, in addition to the troops, would be CACI civilian intelligence contractors, who broke the chain of command and managed torture without facing any penalties whatsoever. No hoods for them: let’s see their corporate middle-manager faces. The crowd should feel free to throw rotten eggs and tomatoes. And right behind them let’s see a crowd of psychologists from the biscuit teams at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.
They could be carrying a banner that says “Making the world just a little bit safer through torture.” (Recent studies that suggest that exposing them to crowds might be most effective in helping them overcome their overwhelming fear of authority and renouncing their criminal complicity.)
But the real stars in this parade would be the new weapons. This gang has concentrated on researching, creating, and stockpiling the most terrifying arsenal in the history of the human race. We could show a few of those lovable little bunker-buster mini-nukes that Junior is so hot for. The beautiful thing about these babies, also known as suitcase nukes, is that they’re portable, which makes them prime targets for entrepreneurial terrorists who want to move up in the world.
Closer to home, we have the new Taser electrical weapons. The Taser is billed as a non-lethal weapon, a safer way for police to exercise control, and yet the company has been sued 14 times since 2003 by police officers who have suffered terrible injuries in training. Jacob Herring, the police chief in Hallsville, Missouri, claims he suffered at least two strokes, loss and impairment of his vision and hearing, neurological damage, a head injury, and cardiac damage after he was shocked by a Taser.
And that’s the baby Taser. Here comes daddy: an electric shock weapon that can fire across a city street or a sports stadium. The design, which is being developed for the government by a Texas company called Lynntech, is for a projectile that can be lobbed from a grenade launcher or shotgun. The projectile sticks to its target and delivers an 80,000-volt shock for seven seconds. Seven seconds seems like an awfully long time to take that much juice. Nevertheless it comes with a remote that can trigger further shocks if you don’t lie down after the first one.
But best of all, and most important for any of you who still have silly ideas about resisting these new masters of the world, are plans for militarizing space. With the use of sophisticated satellite surveillance technology and laser guns mounted in space, this administration hopes to be able to hold the entire world hostage. The magnification of the satellite images is so high that there will be no place on the planet to hide from their targeting systems.
Our enemies in the White House think big. And they have long-term plans. If you don’t think so, consider the fact that the military-industrial complex has now extended its reach into birthday party videos for three-year-olds at Chuck E. Cheese. In the middle of a 15-minute movie full of animated creatures, “the MTV segment shifted to a promotional piece by the Department of Defense! The promo showed happy, smiling soldiers in Iraq handing out toys and candies to delighted children. This was followed by a series of scenes showing war planes, tanks and more happy soldiers. This production lasted for five minutes . . .” These people see no end to their power and no end to war.
It’s time for us to take a page from Mr. Bush’s book and adopt a policy of zero tolerance, with the goal of driving these criminals from office before the next anniversary of September 11.
Patricia Goldsmith is a member of Long Island Media Watch, a grassroots free media and democracy watchdog group. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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