[Reader-list] God Bless America!

avinash kumar avinash332 at rediffmail.com
Sat Jun 26 20:10:01 IST 2004

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check this out!

God Bless America
   By Renato Redentor Constantino
   Nation Institute | TomDispatch 

   Wednesay 23 June 2004 

   Coincidence, pattern, and memory. Tricky things these three. 

   One ghastly day in May, at close to three in the morning, a US
helicopter fires its missiles at the village of Mukaradeeb in western
Iraq. "Coalition forces came under hostile fire and close air support
was provided," the Pentagon explains later. The target was "a
suspected foreign fighter safe house," the deputy director of U.S.
military operations in Iraq, Gen. Mark Kimmitt, adds.

   Once the smoke peels away from Mukaradeeb, the counting begins.
Over 40 people are dead, many of them women and children. It was a
wedding party.

   Almost a year earlier, in the early hours of a July morning, the
U.S. Air Force pounds the Afghan village of Kararak with bombs. "Close
air support from U.S. Air Force B-52 and AC-130 aircraft struck
several ground targets, including anti-aircraft artillery sites that
were engaging the aircraft," explained the U.S. Central Command in
Tampa, Florida. By the end of the attack, over 40 people are dead -
all of them civilians, many of them children. Another wedding party.

   In Southeast Asia over a hundred years ago, the American
annexation of the Philippines has just commenced and the crescendo of
carnage is nearing a state of continuous climax. In a humid theater
somewhere in the ex-future first republic of Asia, the 11th Cavalry
encounters a festive gathering - another wedding party, of course. The
soldiers fire into the throng, kill the bride and two men, and wound
another woman and two children. The cursory statement from the Army in
response to the atrocity, which explains that "American troops ran
into a beehive of insurgents and responded valiantly with covering
fire," has yet to be discovered. We are certain, however, that it's
tucked somewhere in the growing scrapbook of imperial nuptials, the
remedy to insatiable greed.

   Till death do us part? 

   The exchange of vows under the American boot has been going on for
some time now. Everyone is invited, depending on the matrimonial gift
one brings. The wedding of avarice with gluttony: imperial groom -
that ugly, muscular, festering wound of a suitor - seeks and swallows
lonely girl, professing love, the good life, and liberty. We don't do
torture; we don't occupy; we don't do massacres; we reject Satan and
all other evildoers.

   "Those are my principles," said Groucho Marx. "If you don't like
them, I have others."

   What a curious thing, today's trends. The rage is Abu Ghraib. The
shame of the few "bad apples" that have sullied the good name of the
United States. The Rumsfeld memorandum. The August 2002 memo on
"standards of conduct for interrogation" prepared by the misnamed
Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel. The isolated incidents.

   Yes. The isolated incidents. 

   In 1901, in the course of interrogating "treacherous" Filipinos
who did not have the good sense to accept America's seizure of the
Philippines, Lieutenant Frederick Arnold and one Sergeant Edwards were
accused of torturing Filipino prisoners. Their acts of "prisoner
abuse"? Stripping a young man naked, then subjecting him to the water
cure (the essential memory-recovery medication of the occupation
army's battle kit and predecessor to today's "water-boarding"): The
prisoner's mouth is forced open to respectfully facilitate down his
throat five to ten gallons of water (or whatever his bloated stomach
can endure). Once filled up, the interrogators politely step on the
prisoner's tummy until the prisoner blurts out the desired

   For data validation purposes, the same prisoner is interrogated
once more by his American liberators and "whipped and beaten
unmercifully with rattan rods" and "then strung up by his thumbs."
Efficiency is everything.

   Another feat of the imagination - before questioning, a strip of
skin is cut from a Filipino prisoner's ankle and attached to a piece
of wood. Then "the flesh" is coiled "with the wood." Think can-opener.

   "When I give a man to [my troops]," said Lt. Arnold, "I want
information. I do not know how [they] get it, but [they] get it
anyway." Filipinos "had no feelings other than physical, and should
not be treated as human beings."

   In 1900, a captain and lieutenant of the 27th Regiment were tried
for hanging six Filipinos by their necks for ten seconds, "causing
them," it was charged, "to suffer great bodily pain." The words in the
charge sheet were later changed to "mental anguish" and the officers
were found guilty and sentenced to reprimands.

   Unlucky chaps these U.S. officers; they lived way too far ahead of
their time. By the standards of America's government today, they
wouldn't have been charged at all. According to the Acceptable Torture
Handbook prepared by the Bush administration, if someone "knows that
severe pain will result from his actions, if causing such harm is not
his objective, he lacks the requisite specific intent." A "defendant
is guilty of torture only if he acts with the express purpose of
inflicting severe pain or suffering on a person within his control."

   Thus, if your professed intention is to extract information, you
can't be accused of torture.

   God bless America. 

   Renato Redentor Constantino is a writer and painter based in the
Philippines. He writes a weekly column for the Philippine national
daily, TODAY (whose online partner is abs-cbnnews.com). He lives in
Quezon City with his wife, Kalayaan Pulido, and their two kids, Rio
Renato and Yla Luna. Constantino's recent works can be accessed at
redconstantino.blogspot.com. Constantino is currently working on
climate and energy concerns with Greenpeace China.

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