Home and Away: Spreading the Seed of Torture and Tyranny

Seen the arrow on the doorpost
Saying, "This land is condemned
All the way from New Orleans
To Jerusalem."

-- Bob Dylan, "Blind Willie McTell"

Truthteller Chris Hedges shines the torchlight on one of the ugliest corners of the "
Terror War" being carried out by George W. Bush and his willing executioners in Congress: the rendition pipeline of Bush's captives to the torture chambers of Egyptian despot Hosni Mubarak. While the war of aggression in Iraq has killed a million people in the name of "bringing democracy to the Middle East," the United States has continued its long-running, unstinting support for the brutal tyranny in Egypt. As always, Hedges should be read in full, but here is an excerpt from "Outsourcing Torture":

The extraordinary-rendition program, which sees the United States kidnap and detain terrorist suspects in secret prisons around the world, fits neatly with the Egyptian regime’s contempt for due process.  Those rounded up by American or Egyptian security agents are never granted legal rights.  The abductors are often hooded or masked.  If the captors are American the suspects are spirited onto a Gulfstream V jet registered to a series of dummy American corporations, such as Bayard Foreign Marketing of Portland, Ore., and whisked to Egypt or perhaps Morocco or Jordan.  When these suspects arrive in Cairo they vanish into black holes as swiftly as dissident Egyptians.  It is the same dirty and seamless process.  

We have nothing to say to Mubarak.  He is us.  The general intelligence directorate in Lazoughli and in Mulhaq al-Mazra prison in Cairo allegedly holds many of our own detained and “disappeared.” The more savage the torture techniques of the Mubarak regime the faster the prisoners we smuggle into Egypt from Afghanistan and Iraq are broken down.  The screams of Egyptians, Iraqis, Pakistanis and Afghans mingle in these prison cells to condemn us all....

The United States has subsidized Egypt’s armed forces with over $38 billion in aid.  Egypt receives about $2 billion annually—$1.3 billion in foreign military financing and about $815 million in economic and support fund assistance—making it the second largest regular recipient of conventional U.S. military and economic aid, after Israel..

We have nothing left to say to the Mubarak regime.  The torture practiced in Egypt is the torture we employ for our own ends.  The cries that rise up from these fetid cells in Egypt condemn not only the Mubarak dictatorship but the moral rot that has beset the American state.  

We are losing the war in Iraq.  We are an isolated and reviled nation. We are pitiless to others weaker than ourselves.  We have lost sight of our democratic ideals. Thucydides wrote of Athens’ expanding empire and how this empire led it to become a tyrant abroad and then a tyrant at home.  The tyranny Athens imposed on others, it finally imposed on itself.  If we do not confront our hubris and the lies we tell to justify the killing and mask the destruction carried out in our name in Iraq, if we do not grasp the moral corrosiveness of empire and occupation, if we continue to allow force and violence to be our primary form of communication, if we do not remove from power our flag-waving, cross-bearing versions of the Taliban, the despotism we empower abroad will become the despotism we soon experience at home.

Here we must demur slightly from Hedges' conclusion. For as Naomi Wolf reports, the despotism we are empowering abroad is already stalking free-footed in the United States. Bush and the gang are bringing it all back home, the full panopoly of the police state -- including the ever-present threat of violent death for those who threaten the usurpers' illegitimate hold on power. Here are some excerpts from "American Tears":

It is clear from this inundation of personal stories of abuse and retribution against ordinary Americans that a network of criminal behavior and intention is catching up more and more mainstream citizens in its grasp. It is clear that this is not democracy as usual -- or even the corruption of democracy as usual. It is clear that we will need more drastic action than emails to Congress.

The people I am hearing from are conservatives and independents as well as progressives. The cardinal rule of a closing or closed society is that your alignment with the regime offers no protection; in a true police state no one is safe.

I read the news in a state of something like walking shock: seven soldiers wrote op-eds critical of the war -- in The New York Times; three are dead, one shot in the head. A female soldier who was about to become a whistleblower, possibly about abuses involving taxpayers' money: shot in the head. Pat Tillman, who was contemplating coming forward in a critique of the war: shot in the head. Donald Vance, a contractor himself, who blew the whistle on irregularities involving arms sales in Iraq -- taken hostage FROM the U.S. Embassy BY U.S. soldiers and kept without recourse to a lawyer in a U.S. held-prison, abused and terrified for weeks -- and scared to talk once he got home. Another whistleblower in Iraq, as reported in Vanity Fair: held in a trailer all night by armed contractors before being ejected from the country.

Last week contractors, immune from the rule of law, butchered 17 Iraqi civilians in cold blood. Congress mildly objected -- and contractors today butcher two more innocent civilian Iraqi ladies -- in cold blood.

It is clear yet that violent retribution, torture or maybe worse, seems to go right up this chain of command? Is it clear yet that these people are capable of anything? Is it obvious yet that criminals are at the helm of the nation and need to be not only ousted but held accountable for their crimes?

Is it treason yet?

The answer, of course, is "Yes." It's been treason for a long, long time. And as we have said here over and over, the time has come to draw the line. Any public official, any politician who will not call this treason by its rightful name -- and will not dedicate themselves to the immediate removal of Bush and Cheney from power -- is not fit to hold office. Let them take action -- or if they cannot, let them resign from any association with the bloodstained wretches in the White House -- or let them be damned as accomplices to evil.

There is no third way, there is no accomodation or negotiation or compromise to be made with this kind of filth. We have come now to the winnowing ground. Choose where you will stand.

Well, God is in His heaven;
And we all want what's his.
But power and greed and corruptible seed
Seem to be all that there is.