Washington is Pointing Fingers Again, But do They Have the Right?
by James Glaser
August 18, 2014
Bookmark and Share

The Pentagon, the White House, and every neocon in Congress have all been pointing their fingers at ISIS in Iraq. They claim this terrorist group that is attacking Iraq is cutting off heads and slaughtering innocent civilians by the hundreds, and I don't doubt that is true. But here is another truth—we do the same in our wars. Now stop and think about what I just said. We do the same in our wars. The difference is that we have control of the media and can therefore cover things up better than ISIS can.

I have to go back to my war, as Vietnam had real media coverage. We had a program called Operation Phoenix in which we killed tens of thousands of innocent civilians. Here is how one officer explained it.

"Lieutenant Vincent Okamoto, an intelligence-liaison officer for the Phoenix Program for two months in 1968 and a recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross said the following:

Okamoto is the highest-decorated Japanese-American veteran of the Vietnam War. His medals include Purple Heart with three oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Bronze Star, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. He was inducted Into Ranger Hall of Fame on September 1, 2007. He is the fourth Japanese American (and first since World War II) to receive the honor."

Here is how Lieutenant Okamoto testified about his part in Operation Phoenix:

The problem was, how do you find the people on the blacklist? It's not like you had their address and telephone number. The normal procedure would be to go into a village and just grab someone and say, 'Where's Nguyen so-and-so?' Half the time the people were so afraid they would not say anything. Then a Phoenix team would take the informant, put a sandbag over his head, poke out two holes so he could see, put commo wire around his neck like a long leash, and walk him through the village and say, 'When we go by Nguyen's house scratch your head.' Then that night Phoenix would come back, knock on the door, and say, 'April Fool, motherfucker.' Whoever answered the door would get wasted. As far as they were concerned whoever answered was a Communist, including family members. Sometimes they'd come back to camp with ears to prove that they killed people.

Ruth Blakely writes about Operation Phoenix and the tortures used in her book, State Terrorism and Neoliberalism Published by Taylor& Francis April 3, 2009.

Methods of alleged torture said to have been used at the interrogation centers include:

Rape, gang rape, rape using eels, snakes, or hard objects, and rape followed by murder; electric shock ('the Bell Telephone Hour') rendered by attaching wires to the genitals or other sensitive parts of the body, like the tongue; the 'water treatment'; the 'airplane' in which the prisoner's arms were tied behind the back, and the rope looped over a hook on the ceiling, suspending the prisoner in midair, after which he or she was beaten; beatings with rubber hoses and whips; the use of police dogs to maul prisoners.

This from John Pilger in his book, Vietnam the (last) War the U.S. Lost page 164:

Military intelligence officer K. Milton Osborne purports to have witnessed the following use of torture: The use of the insertion of the 6-inch dowel into the canal of one of my detainee's ears, and the tapping through the brain until dead. The starvation to death (in a cage), of a Vietnamese woman who was suspected of being part of the local political education cadre in one of the local villages ... The use of electronic gear such as sealed telephones attached to ... both the women's vaginas and men's testicles [to] shock them into submission.

As the years move forward, the Pentagon and our government learned they needed to clamp down on our media and not let things like this out. However, in our last war in Iraq, the Bush/Obama War, some very bad things happened.

Death of Manadel al-Jamadi

The prisoner Manadel al-Jamadi died in Abu Ghraib prison after a CIA officer and a private contractor interrogated and tortured him in November 2003. The torture included physical violence and strappado hanging, whereby the victim is hung from the wrists with the hands tied behind the back. Although the US military has labeled the death as a homicide, neither of the two men who caused his death have been charged. The private contractor was granted qualified immunity. (Jane Mayer, "A Deadly Interrogation: Can the C.I.A. legally kill a prisoner?", New Yorker, Nov 14, 2005)

Reports of prisoner rape

Major General Antonio Taguba has stated that there is photographic evidence of rape being carried out at Abu Ghraib. An Abu Ghraib detainee told investigators he heard an Iraqi teenage boy screaming and saw an Army translator having sex with him while a female soldier took pictures. A witness identified the alleged rapist as an American-Egyptian who worked as a translator. He is now the subject of a civil court case in the US. Another photo shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner. Other photos show interrogators sexually assaulting prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube, and a female prisoner having her clothing forcibly removed to expose her breasts. Taguba has supported President Obama's decision not to release the photos, stating, "These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency." President Obama, who initially agreed to release the photographs, later changed his mind, as he believed their release would put troops in danger and "inflame anti-American public opinion". (Gardham, Duncan; Cruickshank, Paul May 28, 2009)

In other instances, soldiers allegedly raped female inmates. In one reported case, senior US officials admitted rape had taken place at Abu Ghraib. Some of the raped women became pregnant. Family-members later killed some of the raped women in honor killings because of the shame. (Tencer, Daniel. Journalist: "Women raped at Abu Ghraib were later 'honor killed'". Raw Story. Retrieved 23 July 2014.)

Other atrocities went on in that Iraq war as they do in every war. Remember the number of wedding parties slaughtered repeatedly in Afghanistan or the torture and murders done there by American troops? Here is just one article on what we were and are doing in Afghanistan. http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2009/07/01/when-torture-kills-ten-murders-in-us-prisons-in-afghanistan/

Yes, what the people in ISIS are doing today in Iraq is just horrible, but the world knows we are the pot calling the kettle black when we start pointing our blood-stained fingers at them. To much of the rest of the world, the United States are the terrorists, and we are the ones who commit atrocities, from torture to murder. Do we behead people? I think if you ask enough Vietnam vets you will find your answer.

Americans still cheer our bombings and our attacks on other countries, but they do that cheering out of ignorance of what we do in all our wars, what every country does in every war ever fought. Every American should thank God every day of their life that real war has not come to our country in well over a hundred years, and that no living American, other than our troops, has had to experience the horrors of war.

It is a fact that on average, 22 American veterans commit suicide a day. You ever wonder why? Until our nation's hands are no longer covered in the blood of innocent victims, we should stop gasping in horror over what others do.

Post Script:

I don't like writing about the horrible things we do as a nation, I sure wish we didn't do those things, but we do. Americans have to understand that real war is not like a Hollywood movie, and we are not always the good guys charging in to rescue those in harm's way. War always turns into insanity with young men and now women seeing their comrades blown to bits, and at times having to try and stop the blood flowing from a friend's wound that is unstoppable. Combat is crazy and many times it makes those involved crazy, too.

Before anyone gets too high and mighty defending our nation's wars and the way we treat others, stop and think about the over 500,000 Iraqi children we admit to killing. Watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4PgpbQfxgo

Free JavaScripts provided
by The JavaScript Source

BACK to the Politics Columns.