Oranges and Peanuts for Sale by Eliot Weinberger has a powerful section on Iraq called “What I Heard About Iraq in 2005”. Here are just a few of the many excerpts (which I think I am allowed to post, as they should be in the public domain as far as I know):
I heard a man who had been in Abu Ghraib prison say: “The Americans brought electricity to my ass before they brought it to my house.”
Lieutenant General James Mattis: “It is a lot of fun to fight in Iraq…You know, it’s a hell of a hoot. I like brawling.”
Monthly coverage on ABC, NBC, and CBS combined went from 388 minutes (2003) to 274 (2004) to 166 (2005).
Devout Christian in Iraq: “I said a prayer, stood up, and gunned them all down.”
Bush compared his War on Terror with Lincoln’s war against slavery.
Journalist: “Do you think that the insurgence is getting harder now to defeat militarily?”
Bush: “No, I don’t think so. I think they’re being defeated. And that’s why they continue to fight.
I’ve heard Condoleeza Rice speak about a “generational commitment” in Iraq.
Bush: “See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of capitulate the propaganda.”
I heard that US troops had killed the #2 man in al-Qaeda in Iraq. I heard that US troops had killed another man who was the #2 in al-Qaeda in Iraq. I heard that US troops had killed yet another man who was the #2 in al-Qaeda in Iraq.
I heard that the US military was actively recruiting in Latin America, offering citizenship in exchange for service. I heard that Hispanic-Americans make up 9.5% of the actively enlisted, but 17.5% of those given the most dangerous assignments.
John Bolton, the new US ambassador to the United Nations: “There is no such thing as the United Nations. There is an international community that occasionally can be led by the only real power in the world – and that is the US – when it suits our interest and when we can get others to go along.”
Abdul Henderson, a former Marine corporal: “We were firing into small towns. You see people just running, cars going, guys falling off bikes. It was just sad. You just sit there and look through your binos and see things blowing up, and you think, man they have no water, living in the third world, and we’re just bombing them to hell. Blowing up buildings, shrapnel tearing people to shreds.”
I heard that the US was now spending $195 million a day on the war and that the cost had already exceeded, by $50 billion, US expenses in all of World War I. I heard that $195 million would provide 12 meals a day to every starving child on earth.
Thanks to this
blogger (who actually has the entire essay on the blog) I copied and pasted this list. I feel compelled to include it because it really makes torture more tangible, more of a reality than vague, half-formed, media-influenced, propaganda-influenced theories of the cruel and unknown capabilities of humans.
I heard that a human rights organization, Christian Peacemaker Teams, was distributing a questionnaire to inmates released from Iraqi prisons. Those surveyed were asked to check ‘yes’ or ‘no’ after each question:
Stripped of your clothing (nude)?
Beaten by hand (punches)?
Beaten by stick or rod?
Beaten by cables, wires or belts?
Held at gunpoint?
Had cold water poured on you?
Had a rope tied to your genitalia?
Called names, insults?
Threatened or touched by dogs?
Dragged by rope or belt?
Denied prayer or wudhu [ablution]?
Forced to perform sexual acts?
Were you raped or sodomised?
Did someone improperly touch your genitalia?
Did you witness any sexual acts while in detention?
Did you witness any rapes of men, women or children?
Urinated on or made to touch faeces, or had faeces thrown at you?
Witnessed any deaths?
Did you witness any torture or mistreatment to others?
Forced to wear woman’s clothes? [Question for men only]
Were you burned or exposed to extreme heat?
Exposed to severe cold?
Subjected to electric shock?
Forced to act like a dog?
Forced in uncomfortable positions for a
lengthy period of time?
Forced to stand or sit in a painful manner for lengthy periods of time?
Forced to hit others?
Hung by feet?
Hung by hands or arms?
Threatened to have family killed?
Family members detained?
Witnessed family members tortured?
Forced to sign anything?