Back to the Hell-Hole: Bush is Not Closing Abu Ghraib

You know the big story about how Bush was going to (finally) close Abu Ghraib prison? Well, it turns out that it was all a lie. Who says? The Pentagon -- the same people who were peddling the false story just last week, generating lots of nice headlines about how U.S. forces were putting all the prison's "unseemly associations" behind them, etc.

That was then; this is now. Here's the new word from the American Forces Information Service of the U.S. Department of Defense: U.S. Has No Immediate Plans to Close Abu Ghraib Prison: "The United States always has planned to transfer authority for all detention facilities in Iraq to the Iraqis, but announcements regarding the imminent closure at the Abu Ghraib prison are premature, defense officials said today. News reports that the U.S. military intends to close Abu Ghraib within the next few months and to transfer its prisoners to other jails are inaccurate, officials said.

"There's no specific timetable for that transfer or for closure of the Baghdad prison, they said. Decisions regarding Abu Ghraib and other detention facilities in Iraq will be based largely on two factors: the readiness of Iraq's security forces to assume control of them and infrastructure improvements at the facilities…"

So Bush will continue to operate the hellhole he took over from Saddam Hussein – despite his long-ago promise to tear it down, despite the prison's pre-war, long-time, Lubyanka-like association with torture and injustice. Honestly, at some level, Bush's murky and blood-choked unconscious is constantly leaping out to play merry hell with his public policies. Why else would he take over a monstrous facility like Abu Ghraib, and immediately begin using it as his own center of torture and injustice, thus identifying himself with Saddam in the minds of the Iraqi public – do something that was so completely counterproductive to all of his stated, conscious objectives -- unless there was some part of his psyche that was trying to make manifest the addled moral corruption within?

Or maybe he – and his whole sick crew – were just too goddamned stupid to see how taking over Abu Ghraib and running it as a detention-and-torture center would play with the Iraqi public. Generally, when dealing with this gang of thugs, it is better to dispense with psychological theorizing or even political analysis – however fascinating it might be – and strip the situation down to the crudest motivations and causes: greed, stupidity, aggression and fear.

I first wrote about Abu Ghraib back in August 2003 -- those heady days when victory against the "handful of dead-enders" was just around the corner. (Die Laughing: Bush Buys Muscle for the Headbanger's Ball.) Here are some excerpts:

Here's a headline you don't see every day: "War Criminals Hire War Criminals to Hunt Down War Criminals."

Perhaps that's not the precise wording used by the Washington Post this week, but it is the absolute essence of its story about the Bush Regime's new campaign to put Saddam's murderous security forces on America's payroll...The logic, if that's the word, seems to be that these bloodstained "insiders" will lead their new imperial masters to other bloodstained "insiders" responsible for bombing the UN headquarters in Baghdad – and killing another dozen American soldiers while Little George was playing with his putts during his month-long Texas siesta.

Naturally, the Iraqi people – even the Bush-appointed leaders of the Potemkin "Governing Council" – aren't exactly overjoyed at seeing Saddam's goons return, flush with American money and firepower. And they're certainly not reassured by the fact that the Bushists have also re-opened Saddam's most notorious prison, the dread Abu Ghraib, and are now, Mukhabarat-like, filling it with Iraqis – men, women and children as young as 11 – seized from their homes or plucked off the street to be held incommunicado, indefinitely, without due process, just like the old days. As The Times reports, weeping relatives who dare approach the gleaming American razor-wire in search of their "disappeared" loved ones are referred to a crude, hand-written sign pinned to a spike: "No visits are allowed, no information will be given and you must leave." Perhaps an Iraqi Akhmatova will do justice to these scenes one day.
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