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May 2004 • Vol 4, No. 5 •

World Protests U.S. Torture of Iraqi Prisoners

By the Editors

Torture and murder in Abu Ghraib prison.

Shock and hatred have greeted the documentary proof that U.S. soldiers have tortured and murdered Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison near Bhagdad. Arab demonstrators hold photos of the terrible torture and humiliations inflicted by laughing Americans on Iraqi prisoners, who are mostly civilians swept up in the dragnet of mass arrests in the cities under U.S. siege in Iraq in the wake of massive resistance to the U.S. occupation.

Seymour Hersh, the journalist, revealed the secret government report detailing the tortures, including a murder, in The New Yorker magazine. He was the reporter who revealed the U.S. My Lai massacre in Vietnam over 30 years ago. His New Yorker piece was quoted in headlines all over the world.

Top U.S. officials, including President Bush, are working overtime to try to undo the damage through high-speed spin. Bush was even forced to offer a mild apology. His main propaganda effort has been to say that a few bad apples are responsible for the degrading humiliation and torture, not the U.S. military, not the commanders, and not the Commander-in-Chief himself, of course. Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, sounded particularly agitated about the existence of video footage and many more photos (not yet made public) documenting more abuse than has been revealed so far.

It is quite clear that what has provoked so much dismay in the top levels of the U.S. government is not the fact—the reality—that torture was carried out. No, the dismay, is over the sudden appearance of evidence of these crimes against humanity. The crime isn’t the concern. It’s the public knowledge of the crime, especially in the Arab world. The tortures of a sexual nature are of particular odiousness to Muslims. Any human being, subjected to these crimes, would feel grossly violated and tortured. This is why there is a worldwide outcry that cannot be denied. This is why more Americans are turning against the war.

The fact is that the U.S. government admitted long ago, after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, that it would use torture in the so-called War on Terrorism. Leading legal scholars, such as Alan Dershowitz, wrote justifications for new government policies allowing torture of prisoners. The War on Terror is the most recent justification for torture despite the Geneva conventions and other international and national laws prohibiting it as unworthy of civilized humanity.

Imperialism is not a popular system. People do not want their countries to be occupied by foreign soldiers, nor do they want their national resources to be stolen by foreign corporations. So, imperial powers must rely on force and violence—including torture—to perpetrate the power of their tiny minority to rule over the vast populations of the world. Torture and humiliation are part and parcel of rule by a minority.

The United States has its own particular history of using torture as an inherent part of its development as a capitalist power. Widespread torture was used in stealing the Americas from the indigenous population, the Indians. For example, white Europeans were the first to use scalping against the Indians. Torture was used in implementing slavery and preserving it for several hundred years.

And domestic use of torture is still prevalent. Torture is the stock in trade of police in Black communities in the United States and torture is used regularly in U.S. prisons, including juvenile prisons. The videotaped torture of a child in the custody of California Youth Authority was recently shown on television.

Torture—whether at Abu Ghraib or elsewhere—is not new. What is new is the ubiquitous pocket-sized video and still cameras, which provide convincing evidence ready-made for use by independent Arab TV stations or the Internet.

Now the whole world knows that there is no decency in the heart of American imperialism, and no justice to come from Operation Iraqi Freedom. What is revealed is a naked grab for Iraqi resources by the U.S. ruling class in general and on behalf of the U.S. oil corporations in particular. And the whole world knows that torture too is part of the U.S. arsenal.

Stop the U.S. war on Iraq!

U.S. Out of Iraq!

Bring the troops home now!





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