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Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

- Bob Dylan, Ballad of a Thin Man, 1965

Shortly before he disappeared into the night, Wesley Clark demanded that the beginnings of the war on Iraq be dug up and found and publicly explored and explained before they got buried too deep. It is a good idea. Let’s have televised exploratory hearings. Let them be vast and let them last years and let them begin now.

It is an important idea, and now that the Government has admitted to torture, let’s also begin as well hearings and investigations into these and possibly other American war crimes. Not to get all judgmental, but for myself, I’d like to see something a little less touchy-feely than the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Something more widespread. Something more akin to the McCarthy Hearings. Or better still, something like France’s war crime trials of the storied Vichy Swine which took TIME’s Man of the Year in 1931, Pierre Laval, and left him vomiting before a firing squad in 1945.

Here in northern New England, the newspaper editors who for the first time in the 800-year history of the English-speaking people proposed on our op-ed pages that torture be a rational tool of diplomacy, have at least in some places been delegated to the night desk. But down the mountain; down there in the vast heartland, the actual torture buffs and advocates who wrote the stories before they went to the syndicates; the agents and fellow travelers of the Popular Front of American Fascism have found their way out of that upper white trash journal, The National Review, to the most important newspapers and magazines in the country. And discussion of torture in venerable journals like The New York Times and the LA Times is now as common as hep-B and herpes duplex and as American as apple pie. First question to these people: Who raised you?

Perhaps we will need reeducation centers or rehabilitation centers like those set up in Southeast Asia after the war in Vietnam to reeducate communist soldiers, propagandists, prostitutes and others who lost their center to the heady and delirious fever of blood and ideology. Get them at least straight enough to be able to perform the simplest tasks of common humanity like cutting tobacco or gutting fish with humble pride and humility.

Let’s go back to the beginning: Let’s have public discussion of ideas like those openly discussed – bragged about – throughout the media leading up to the war on Iraq when most all the major columnists and journalists in this country and about 90 Senators felt for sure early in 2001 that the war in Iraq would be a cake walk won in a week. It would be the key career move and anyone who didn’t participate would be left behind.  World War II in a week. Let’s go back to the Weekly Standard crew. One of its old school talked openly about frequently sitting around the office and the whole bunch just trying to decide which country to cajole the compliant, submissive and decadent Congress of Peeps to invade first.

Are there not War Crime laws against conspiring to mass murder? Shouldn’t there be? Isn’t it, like, unConstitutional? Isn’t it unConstitutional to repeal habeas corpus? Why did the repeal of habeas corpus not ring with the urgency of a suddenly lost talisman to the majority in Congress and the press? And isn’t it therefore a RICO violation or a conspiracy to advocate overthrow of the established Constitutional proceedings? Doesn’t this present a bloodless coup; the substitution of a false government for the true government? Isn’t this against the law?

Are the instigators of these illegal issues American war criminals and to what degree are they culpable? To what degree are their fellow travelers in press and politics culpable? Should they at least be purged from our presence? Can’t they be sent some place like the Penal Colony of French New Guinea or the Galapagos Islands?

And let’s have some public and televised hearings and go way back to the beginning. Lets bring in some of the old folkloric and vastly charming and creative radio preachers I used to listen to in the mountains of Appalachia starting in the early ‘90s and throughout who talked about the invasion of Iraq and gettin’ Saddam for years before in actually happened.

Let’s talk about Armageddon and the Second Coming of Christ that our Appalachian free preachers told us we were going to help bring about by a war against Saddam. Was this war simply millennialist religious hysteria of the kind which classically comes about at the turning of millenia? A nation-wide Jonestown to which the Congress, the press and 75% of the American people who supported the invasion drank the kool aid?

Lets get the authors of the Left Behind books to explain to us again as they did to their 100 million readers how a war in the Middle East - something way like this one - was going to bring about the end of the world and bring back Jesus. And let’s talk to the few New York rabbis who brought concerns to The New York Times just prior to the invasion about the apparent connection between these Appalachian religious visions and convictions and the plight of the Jews in this narrative. Was not the final end-game of this fantastic maelstrom of fire and blood the final end for the Jews? How could Jews possibly support this? How could anyone?

More questions arise: Why were so few others in big places like The New York Times and Congress unconcerned about this? How could they possibly claim not to know? One of the authors of the Left Behind books worked for one of our most prominent Representatives. Were they not curious? Was appeasement and accommodation of Bush and company the dominant survival strategy for those Senators who voted for the Iraq war as it was for Marshall Petain and Pierre Laval in France in the early 1930s? Is that why Indian activist Russell Means today calls American politicians Vichy? Were they simply cowards? Youth wants to know.

And how did our allies not know a word about this. Weeks before the invasion I’d lobbied members of the House of Commons like Glenda Jackson about the American religious zealots encouraging this war on Iraq and she said they had not a clue about this. She would be the first to bring it to the attention of Tony Blair, she said.

And how did the urban and urbane neocons connect so swiftly with this motley group of Free Church Christian preachers in the Appalachians? What were the external networks? Churches, elected officials, press? They seem unlikely colleagues. What were their shared purposes?

Let’s go back to the tapes of The Newshour with Jim Lehrer weeks before the invasion and watch in the eyes and smiles the camaraderie and excitement that the country’s most prominent journalists shared with the most common of agitators and political propagandists, each egging on the other to their Great Moment which they were comparing to the invasion of Normandy.

Let’s go to the deeply involved journalists; the coat carriers at the NYTs; the top WaPost reporter who advocated invasion of Iraq on the front pages every day for her own purposes; to get the Muslim women to be rid of their burkas and dress like her – the Priestess who accompanied the Conquistador; let’s go to the most famous of TV reporters cheering them on into Baghdad from a Humvee and telling the camera " . . . I think they’re greeting us," while the Iraqi people were throwing him the finger.

Let’s get to the bottom. Who was promoted to the highest perches of newspaper and media posts on the phony Mission Accomplished day and why? What kind of newspaper experience did they have besides supporting the invasion that led them to such high positions? And why are they still there?

Who early proposed torture in the press and why now have they advanced to major media? Are they not American terrorists? Can they not be imprisoned or exiled? And if we are going to suspend the Constitution, cannot Bob Dylan’s Mr. Jones, surmised to be the archetypal and anonymous cowardly journalist and editor with neither face nor character, storied in song and generational folk lore for

knowing something is happening but not knowing what it is;

cannot Mr. Jones be banished outright and purged from the village?

Who are the central advocates? Who are the American Ayatollahs? Let’s talk to them all. Let’s have everybody watch and hear their explanations.

Let’s talk to all of them and Colin Powell who lied outright and in plain sight and let’s have Alan Dershowitz explain to us again as he did last year how the Clintons’ position on torture was (is) much the same as his.

And while we have them there let’s ask them why they made so little fuss at the dropping of habeas corpus. Let’s ask them why at each and every turn these past few years only so very few like the venerable Robert C. Byrd and that Gray Champion, Ted Kennedy, spoke up. And among the candidates only Barack Obama and Ron Paul consistently opposed and before this year, they were considered marginal.

Let’s ask the lawmakers why legislation to quit smoking or to ban transfats brings fire to their minds, but torture and habeas corpus are not that burning as issues for them.

But first of all let’s ask them this: Did you watch the Super Bowl? Did you rise and swell at the magnificent vision of the Declaration of Independence being read by Americans of every shape, contrast and color? Did you awaken to Russell Crowe’s primal American vision of perfection leading the artist’s heart, the troubadour’s intuition and the athlete’s gift  - The Beatles and Jack Kennedy and Neil Armstrong and Jimi Hendrix and Satchmo and Randy Moss and Eli and Plaxico - to the moon and beyond?

Do you share in this sacred trust? Do you consider yourself to be part of this participation mystique? Do you consider yourself to be one of us?

Originally posted to Bernie Quigley on Sat Feb 09, 2008 at 03:46 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  These questions and thoughts should be posed (10+ / 0-)

    to every member of Congress and every elected official in the nation.  We have lost so much because people do not care enough to ask for the truth.


  •  This is a conversation (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    trashablanca, Got a Grip, catchaz

    we desperately need to have.  But I don't believe we ever will.

    We are an empire, and what we say goes. Also, by definition, anything we do is good, since by definition, our enemies are always evil. Therefore, our war planners and cheerleaders cannot be convicted or even accused of war crimes - if anything, Iraq was a noble though poorly executed attempt to do some good in the world.  That's how the history will be written, and that's how pundits from left to right (possible exception of KO) will remember it.

    Great f*ckin' diary, by the way.  Thankfully, we can have the conversation here and with our friends and families.

    Rise like lions after slumber in unvanquishable number. Shake your chains to earth like dew, which in sleep had fallen on you. Ye are many - they are few.

    by cruz on Sat Feb 09, 2008 at 04:59:46 AM PST

    •  probably right (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eaglecries, trashablanca, Got a Grip

      the government probably won't ever address these issues in total, things like the media's involvement and the role of so many people other than the policy makers in taking us to war. but we as citizens can make sure this conversation does take place, that the society does ask and attempt to answer these important questions. this diarest has done a great job of initiating this conversation. i hope others will follow their example. there are many many different subjects and questions in this diary, any one of them would make a good jumping off point for further discussion by other diarests.

      the only thing i can write in defense of anybody is in answer to the question of why 75% of people followed the insane path set by Bush. i don't think it was religious hysteria, or milennial fever, but the post-traumatic reaction to 9/11. after the nation watched thousands of people die at once, live on TV, it would have taken a great leader to encourage them to fight against the fear induced hysteria. instead, we had so-called leaders who preyed upon the fear, and encouraged people to follow their worst, fear-driven instincts. this, to me, may have been Bush's greatest crime, the damage he did to the American psyche and soul.

      on an official investigation into these issues, i think we do need to press for the most agregious to be looked at by the next government. to me, torture is at the top of that list. and the investigation should be easier now that Bush & co have admitted to torture by waterboarding.  

      the time to rise has been engaged...

      by catchaz on Sat Feb 09, 2008 at 07:01:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  McCain SILENCE lost my personal respect -- (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        before he even announced for Pres.  He huffed and puffed a little bit, and then shut up, and gave impression he'd fixed it.  NOT.  

        My generation saw him captured and dragged of and whacked by mob in downtown Hanoi. The tv propaganda film with cast on. ETC.
        They couldn't have swift boated his cred.

        HE COULD HAVE STOPPED THE TORTURE.  He needed to speak out every day --- campaign --- against our country losing it's soul.  What did they promise or threaten --- to shut him up?   NOTHING --  was worth his silence.

        George was serving his country like Romney's boys, helping a political campaign.  He couldn't fly (thus couldn't go to Nam) because missing flight physical GROUNDS YOU.   How could he not SCREAM each time he saw the smirk of a pilot who DID NOT go to Nam  --- while John spent almost 6 years being tortured.  John got SPECIAL torture because HIS DADDY's military rank and job would have made "turning" McCain to their side -- great propaganda for North.  He admits he finally broke and signed the lies.

        EVEN IF HE HAD TO QUIT CONGRESS --- he should have served his nation by refusing to shut up. Refusing to give them quarter for their conflations. How could he stomach that smirk on the "Commander?"

        He tried to physically commit suicide when he broke-- tv life story said. And I flashed back to when I FIRST saw those McCain films as "news".

         IMHO  -- he committed political suicide when he shut up about torture.  HE COULD HAVE CALLED THEIR BLUFF.

        SADLY, if he IS the nominee, WE MUST take him to task at every opportunity, for his DEADLY silence on TORTURE. When HE caved --- too many people falsely assumed the problem had been cleaned up.
        I hate all harm to my generation from Vietnam. We all lost.  Too many troops never came completely home --- mentally, emotionally.  They still resent losses -- with NO WIN.   John can't WIN back what he lost by "bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" or in a 100 years in Iraq.   Can't get even for his dad being who he was or his wasted years in Hanoi Hilton.  

        If CONGRESS is too afraid  ----->   WE THE PEOPLE must demand from him the conversation you ask for. In full glare of campaign media hype and spotlights, ASK WHY he shut up when he knew it was wrong and he could have stopped it.  Picket signs -- Torture is Terrorism John --- Water Torture is Torture  --- Witch dunking is Torture

        De fund + de bunk = de EXIT--->>>>>

        by Neon Mama on Sat Feb 09, 2008 at 11:54:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Good luck. You can count on my vote for Justice. (3+ / 0-)

    Fiat justitia, ruat coelum.

    "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex" Dwight D. Eisenhower

    by bobdevo on Sat Feb 09, 2008 at 07:13:39 AM PST

  •  Fantastic diary, possum. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Yellow Canary, KathyinSC, Neon Mama

    This is a drum that needs heavy pounding.  I'm so glad this diary was rescued or I'd never have seen it.

    Keep pounding the drum, and I'll keep marching with you....

    Calling bullshit on "bracing rhetorical thrusters" since Fall 2006....put your words into action at Road2DC

    by Got a Grip on Sat Feb 09, 2008 at 11:53:17 PM PST

    •  Doubled. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Got a Grip

      In fact, I think we should start showing up everywhere with drums, little and large, beating them to some rough tattoo of justice.

      Hey JOHN MCCAIN, war hero: President Bush orders torture. What should US soldiers do NOW?

      by Yellow Canary on Sun Feb 10, 2008 at 06:09:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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