american subhumans justify murder

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    Pictures that tell the truth versus the Pentagon's productions

    By Linda S. Heard
    Online Journal Contributing Writer

    November 25, 2004—Unless you've spent the past week meditating on a mountaintop, you've watched the video everyone is talking about. It's the one where a US Marine walks into one of Fallujah's mosques and cold-bloodedly shoots a wounded, unarmed combatant in the head.

    If the victim had been a dog or a horse, American indignation would have been palpable. But because the dead man is prejudged and demonized, he is automatically the bad guy, the wretched face of evil incarnate, while the US corporate media churns out a litany of psychobabble excuses for his trigger-happy killer.

    Texas Democrat Sylvester Reyes blames the embedding of reporters for the public display of America's dirty laundry. "We should not be providing Al-Jazeera with the kind of propaganda they've had the last couple of days," he told the House Armed Services Committee. "We don't want to know everything that is happening on the field," he said in true "hear no evil, see no evil" style.

    The bullyboy of Fox News Bill O'Reilly, far from holding the Marine accountable for his breach of the Geneva Conventions, targets the Qatar-based Arabic network.

    Proud that his "Factor" was the only show, which purposefully refrained from showing photographs and videos of the abuses at Abu Ghraib, he blames Al-Jazeera for re-running the incriminating tape, claiming it foments hatred and endangers US troops.

    O'Reilly, like America's newly anointed Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, appears to consider those clauses of the Geneva Conventions, which govern the treatment of prisoners as "quaint." Translated, this applies only to non-Americans detained by the US and not the other way around.

    If we cast our minds back to the invasion when five captured US soldiers were shown sipping tea on the now defunct Iraqi television, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld bitterly complained the relaying of pictures showing prisoners of war violated the Geneva Conventions.

    His views were echoed at the time by that dour Lebanese-American fellow Gen. John Abizaid, who went for Al-Jazeera's jugular at a press conference for re-broadcasting, and more recently singled out the network as portraying the US "as purposely targeting civilians."

    While few would thus accuse the US, some believe the Pentagon has shown a callous indifference toward what it terms "collateral damage" leaving it to others to tally up its deadly handiwork.

    While civilian deaths and US military abuses are conveniently brushed aside by the Bush administration, and its mouthpiece Fox News, O'Reilly complains the tape showing the murder of Margaret Hassan was deliberately buried by Al-Jazeera. The network itself insists it was "too graphic to broadcast."

    So here we have it. According to O'Reilly, videos of the US military threatening naked detainees with attack dogs should not be seen by the sensitive viewing public, but the graphic murder of a female charity worker is par for the course.

    Naturally, religious right-wingers like O'Reilly would love that tape to be broadcast over and over again because it reinforces the perception of the bestial insurgent while bolstering the invaders' moral high ground. In this way, he hopes, sickened and disgusted, we would all leap on to the crusading Bush bandwagon to fight the good fight.

    This is pure speculation on my part but Al-Jazeera's reluctance may stem from the brewing debate over "who killed Margaret Hassan?"

    British journalist Robert Fisk cleverly highlights the strange circumstances surrounding Margaret's kidnapping in a recent article. He writes: "So, if anyone doubted the murderous nature of the insurgents, what better way to prove their viciousness than to produce evidence of Margaret Hassan's murder?" He concludes with the thought-provoking question: "Who gains from Margaret Hassan's death?

    Certainly not the insurgency. Mrs. Hassan was married to an Iraqi, had dual British-Iraqi nationality, spoke fluent Arabic and was a convert to Islam. She had spent some 30 years caring for the Iraqi people and had been a vehement opponent of the US-led sanctions and invasion. So why was she taken in the first place? Even Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi's ruthless band of thugs urged her immediate release."

    Every crime has a motive. In the case of Mrs. Hassan it is difficult to see what this could be from the point of view of the resistance.

    When compared to previous militant tapes, the videos of Mrs. Hassan pleading for her life were unique. There were no banners, no armed, masked men in the background, no claims of responsibility, and, in a departure from the usual decapitation, Margaret was hooded and shot.

    Muslims rarely kidnap and kill women. In the 1980s, there was a spate of hostage taking in Lebanon but women were generally off limits.

    When the fanatical Taliban captured the British journalist Yvonne Ridley during the invasion of Afghanistan she was well treated until she was set free at the Pakistani border.

    In Iraq, two female Italian aid workers were taken and subsequently released, as were female members of Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's family and a woman with duel Polish-Iraqi citizenship. We may never know who killed Margaret Hassan but we do know who shot an injured man taking refuge in a place of worship. Both killings are reprehensible. Both killings are an affront to humanity. And both must be investigated and universally condemned.

    A third contentious video showed Al-Zarqawi's Fallujah headquarters to which embedded journalists were taken on a guided tour.

    So nice of the terrorist to put up an al-Qaeda sign on the wall just in case his visitors were confused about where they were, and it was even nicer of him to leave behind computers bursting with intelligence goodies so that all his friends and associates can be traced. Shades of the Jessica Lynch show, courtesy of Pentagon Productions, or evidence that America's enemy No. 2 is deficiency of gray matter? You decide.

    Linda S. Heard is a British specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes feedback and can be contacted by email at [email protected]
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