The Constant Drumbeat of Hatred
We have found no new reports about the fate of Tom Fox, an American peaceworker held captive in Iraq for more than 100 days. Nor was there any update on the condition of Tom's three CPT companions. All of them but Tom Fox were seen in a video dated February 28 and released by their captors on March 7.
There was, however, much more to report in that war-torn country today.
A US occupation spokesperson in Iraq said Thursday that the American military would soon shut down the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, move its 4537 inmates elsewhere, and turn over the facility to Iraqi authorities. The spokesman added that "we do not anticipate the Iraqi government to use it as a prison or a detention facility."
Iraqi officials also called a US report detailing human rights abuses in Iraq "an unfair assessment." Reuters reports:
"The US government accused our security forces of mistreatment, torture and aggression against the Iraqi population," said Hussam Abdul-Kader, a senior official in the Ministry of Interior. "But it forgot to mention in its report the ongoing violence that they have promoted in Iraq since their invasion, including the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison."
The Iraqi government executed 13 confessed insurgents by hanging Thursday, ignoring appeals from the UN and human rights groups to forego capital punishment. However, according to Reuters, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani "has said he opposes capital punishment, not even against Saddam Hussein himself, and has delegated responsibility to one of his vice-presidents."
Does delegating state-sanctioned homicide absolve Talabani of the responsibility?
Despite the executions, insurgent violence continued, killing at least 16 people in and around Baghdad during the day. Later a bomb blast killed 11 more. Also, a US Marine was killed in fighting in Anbar province, bringing the US military death toll to 2306.
Meanwhile, next door in Iran, police and plainclothes agents attacked a peaceful assembly of hundreds of women and men who had gathered in a park to observe International Womens Day.
Baloney watch, continued:
U.S. force levels in Iraq could be reduced if that country's security forces "continue to do the kind of job they're doing," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Thursday.By contrast, blogger Juan Cole offered a bracing dose plain truth and wisdom: "The constant drumbeat of hatred toward Muslims and Arabs on the American Right, on television and radio and in the press, has gradually had its effect," as measured by recent US polls.
But Rumsfeld declined to say whether a significant reduction would be possible. "I wouldn't want to use your phrase of significant," he told Illinois Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin, saying that would prompt a debate on the meaning of that word.
Cole denounces the US rulers effort "to continually insinuate that the Muslim world is the new Soviet Union and full of sinister forces that require the US to go to war against them. But at the same time, America has warm relations with numerous Islamic nations.
"This two-faced policy and self-contradictory rhetoric," Cole wrItes, "has contributed to growing hatred and bigotry toward Muslims in the US, which is no less worrisome than the hatred Jews faced in Europe in the 1920s. It is dangerous because of what it can become."