Out, Vile Jelly: The Blinding of America

"I carry a wounded horizon/In the seasons of my eye."
-- Marty Matz

I."Who's Your Baghdaddy?"

New York Times Journalist Killed in Baghdad (NYT)
Khalid W. Hassan, 23, an interpreter and reporter in the New York Times’s news bureau in Baghdad, was shot and killed today, John F. Burns, the bureau chief, reported...Mr. Hassan was shot in the Seiydia district of south central Baghdad while driving to work under unclear circumstances, Mr. Burns said. He had called the bureau earlier and said his normal route to the office had been blocked by a security checkpoint. “I’m trying to find another way,” he told the bureau staff. About a half an hour he called his mother, with whom he lived, telling her, “I’ve been shot.”His family later called the bureau to report that he had been killed.

I guess that'll teach them not to write editorials calling for the end of L'il Pretzel's big adventure in Babylon.

We're told that Hassan was killed "under unclear circumstances" while driving to work. Perhaps the circumstances were similar to this:

“This unit sets up this traffic control point, and this 18-year-old kid is on top of an armored Humvee with a .50-caliber machine gun,” he said. “This car speeds at him pretty quick and he makes a split-second decision that that’s a suicide bomber, and he presses the butterfly trigger and puts 200 rounds in less than a minute into this vehicle. It killed the mother, a father and two kids. The boy was aged 4 and the daughter was aged 3. And they briefed this to the general. And they briefed it gruesome. I mean, they had pictures. They briefed it to him. And this colonel turns around to this full division staff and says, ‘If these fucking hajis learned to drive, this shit wouldn’t happen.’”

That's from the remarkable new Truthdig/Nation article by Chris Hedges and Laila Al-Arian: Iraq Vets Break Silence on Devastating Realities of War. The authors interviewed "fifty combat veterans of the Iraq War from around the United States in an effort to investigate the effects of the four-year-old occupation on average Iraqi civilians." The result is a shattering portrayal of the true nature of the ongoing atrocity launched by George W. Bush and his multitude of willing executioners in the American Establishment:

From these collected snapshots a common theme emerged. Fighting in densely populated urban areas has led to the indiscriminate use of force and the deaths at the hands of occupation troops of thousands of innocents. Many of these veterans returned home deeply disturbed by the disparity between the reality of the war and the way it is portrayed by the US government and American media. The war the vets described is a dark and even depraved enterprise, one that bears a powerful resemblance to other misguided and brutal colonial wars and occupations, from the French occupation of Algeria to the American war in Vietnam and the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.

Hassan, killed while driving to work, was probably "lit up" at one of the impromptu checkpoints thrown up at anytime, anywhere, around the city. Or perhaps he ran afoul of a convoy:

When these columns of vehicles left their heavily fortified compounds they usually roared down the main supply routes, which often cut through densely populated areas, reaching speeds over sixty miles an hour. Governed by the rule that stagnation increases the likelihood of attack, convoys leapt meridians in traffic jams, ignored traffic signals, swerved without warning onto sidewalks, scattering pedestrians, and slammed into civilian vehicles, shoving them off the road. Iraqi civilians, including children, were frequently run over and killed. Veterans said they sometimes shot drivers of civilian cars that moved into convoy formations or attempted to pass convoys as a warning to other drivers to get out of the way...

Sergeant Flatt recalled an incident in January 2005 when a convoy drove past him on one of the main highways in Mosul. “A car following got too close to their convoy,” he said. “Basically, they took shots at the car. Warning shots, I don’t know. But they shot the car. Well, one of the bullets happened to just pierce the windshield and went straight into the face of this woman in the car. And she was--well, as far as I know--instantly killed. I didn’t pull her out of the car or anything. Her son was driving the car, and she had her--she had three little girls in the back seat. And they came up to us, because we were actually sitting in a defensive position right next to the hospital, the main hospital in Mosul, the civilian hospital. And they drove up and she was obviously dead. And the girls were crying.”

...“We’re using these vulnerable, vulnerable convoys, which probably piss off more Iraqis than it actually helps in our relationship with them,” Sgt. Flanders said, “just so that we can have comfort and air-conditioning and sodas--great--and PlayStations and camping chairs and greeting cards and stupid T-shirts that say, Who’s Your Baghdaddy?”

In any case, one more set of eyes and ears for the Western media -- whose overwhelmingly white representatives are unable to move freely in the occupied land -- has been destroyed.

II. Only One Way Out
But Hassan was not the only Western-employed journalist killed in Iraq this week. Just yesterday, two Reuters employees -- photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen and driver Saeed Chmagh -- were killed in what the Iraqi police called "a random American bombardment" of a Baghdad neighborhood, the Washington Post reports.

The Reuters men were among 11 people killed in an "intense" six-hour attack on the neighborhood by "240 U.S. soldiers in 65 Humvees, several Bradley Fighting Vehicles and two Apache attack helicopters," the Post said. Two children were also injured in the attack on the residential area. A camera believed to belong to Noor-Eldeen was found at the scene of the assault, but it was "taken away to be processed by military authorities." U.S. military officials said the operation was launched to root out Shiite militamen from the Mahdi Army of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr -- whose party is one of the mainstays of the Bush-backed Iraqi government of Nouri al-Maliki.

But that was not the only American attack on Shiite positions in Baghdad in the last 24 hours. In a bizarre firefight in Baghdad early on Friday, American forces battled Iraqi policemen -- yes, the very Iraqi police that American forces are arming and training -- after capturing an Iraqi police lieutenant who was allegedly leading a cell of Shiite militiamen attacking U.S. forces, the Washington Post reports. American forces called in an airstrike to help quell the assault from the Iraqi police squad and unidentified "gunmen" -- presumably Shiite militiamen. In the end, U.S. troops killed six of their Iraqi police proteges, and seven of the "gunmen."

Now here comes the twist. U.S. officials said the bad lieutenant was actually an Iranian agent, "linked to the Quds Force, a branch of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards," the Post reports. This is yet another staccato pounding of the wardrums against Iran, which has reached a new, deafening crescendo this week, with the U.S. Senate smearing its collective chest with blood-red ochre and joining the frenzied war dance.

Note well the careful calibration of propaganda that's going on. As Glenn Greenwald and others have noted, every Sunni insurgent is now "al Qaeda." And now, every Shiite militiaman -- i.e., the majority of the military and police forces of the Bush-backed Iraqi government -- is being morphed into an "Iranian agent." Americans are clearly being conditioned to believe that all the violence in Iraq, all resistance to the Dear Leader's gentle liberation,  comes solely from the dastards who attacked us on 9/11 and the evil mullahs who held our embassy people hostage way back when. Thus, by extension, anyone who opposes the Dear Leader's war in Iraq is in fact a tacit -- if not active -- supporter of al Qaeda and Iran.

There is a persistent belief -- or rather, delusion -- that Bush and his minions and keepers have somehow been chastened by the catastrophic failure of their criminal enterprise in Iraq, or by the plunging poll numbers of the Administration, or by criticism from Republican mandarins, or by losing control of both houses of Congress last November. It is thought in some quarters that these setbacks and humiliations will at last force the Bush Faction to modify its modus operandi in some way, or rein in some of their radical ambitions for "projecting dominance" abroad and transforming America into an authoritarian "Commander-in-Chief" state. But the Bushists have not changed their M.O. or diminished their ambitions by a single iota. They are employing the same blunt, crude propaganda tactics that led to the invasion of Iraq, while accelerating their ambitions -- first by escalating the war in Iraq with the "surge," and now by seeking to spread the conflict to Iran.

As noted earlier, the White House has officially notified Congress that it will not accept any legislative restrictions on the president's power to wage unrestricted war in Iraq and Iran. By Bush's own admission then, there is no "room for compromise," no basis for "negotiations" with Congress, no "middle ground" to be reached by good will and bipartisanship; it is, as it has always been, his way or the highway. There is only one avenue left for ending the war crime in Iraq and stopping another one in Iran: the removal of the president and vice president from office. Thus any Congressional plan for "curtailing the war" that does not have impeachment as its aim is meaningless; worse, it is complicit in the murder, ruin and dishonor that Bush has laid at America's door.

Impeachment or complicity: this is the only choice facing American lawmakers today. They can stand up and make history -- or they can go howling into the hell of shame and infamy that will be the Bush Administration's eternal legacy.