The way people are reacting with surprise to the horrific photos and classified reports from Iraq that document how US military personnel and civilian contractors abused, humiliated, and tortured innocent Iraqis in a prison formerly used as a torture chamber by Saddam Hussein, you’d think they’ve been asleep while drug war victims have been screaming about similar abuses on American soil against American citizens.
It’s d?j? vu all over again. Just like when right-wingers reacted with outrage when a team of gun-toting police kicked down the door of famed Cuban refugee kid Elian Gonzalez’s house in Miami a few years ago. The outraged conservatives just could not believe that police would smash people’s doors and point guns at kids, especially when the people in the house were unarmed and non-violent.
Give me a break. If you’re one of the tens of thousands of Americans who’ve had their houses raided due to marijuana grow search warrant, then you’ve had guns pointed at you by police even though you were unarmed and non-violent. You’ve had your house trashed and destroyed. Your kids may have been taken from you. Your bank accounts, stereos, cars, and computers too. If you lived in a high-intensity drug war zone, like the people in Northern California’s Emerald Triangle pot-growing region, you know what it feels like to have a military helicopter hover over your home, or maybe land in your back yard, so police could find out if you’re growing tomatoes or dope.
You’ve been interrogated, threatened, strip-searched. You’ve had police officers stick their hands in your butt. You’ve had them hold your loved ones hostage, jamming you up with lies and extortion so you’ll provide evidence against other weedheads.
Of course, everyone should be outraged by what’s going on in Iraq. While the pot community marched around the world on May 1st, very angry about not being able to smoke pot in peace, US soldiers were blowing people’s heads off, strafing them, getting their asses killed in a war that never should have been waged.
The US violated international law when it invaded Iraq. The President lied about the reasons for going to war, and continues to lie about the war even now. This “pro-life” anti-abortion President sent his military to kill thousands of Iraqi woman and children, most notably in Falluja, Baghdad, Karbala, and Najaf.
This self-described follower of Christ from Texas, he doesn’t believe in abortion, he really loves innocent unborn fetuses, but he apparently believes in probortion, the killing of innocent babies after they’re born, especially if they’re Arab babies. Or maybe he’s an abortionist himself. Were any of the Iraqi women killed by US forces pregnant when they died? Probably.
The International Red Cross has condemned US actions in Iraq in general, and at Abu Ghraib prison in particular. The Red Cross has been denied entry to the US Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba where hundreds of people are being held without benefit of attorneys and without rights.
The Red Cross it they repeatedly told US officials for a year that shocking abuses conducted by US personnel were taking place in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Cuba. The warnings were ignored.
Meanwhile, the world can see the character of American soldiers and their commanders, in haunting pictures that show a hooded Iraqi prisoner, wired as if he would be electrocuted, looking a bit like Christ on the cross.
Or laughing American servicewomen, one holding a leash that’s wrapped around the neck of an Iraqi on the floor, and others giggle as naked male prisoners are piled up on each other like slaughtered pigs. This is what Bush liberated the Iraqi people for, so his volunteer mercenary boys and girls could do to Iraqis just what Saddam was alleged to have done.
And pretty soon it won’t be just volunteer killers. The Bush administration and the Selective Service are quietly planning to revive compulsory military service, even for women. They’ve run out of volunteers and reservists to use as killers and cannon fodder.
Bush and his Secretary of Defense, Donny Rumsfeld, another paid killer from the Reagan administration, claim to have not known what was going on, they hadn’t read the report that said American soldiers and unaccountable civilian “contractors” employed by Bush-Cheney oil companies, and the military, and the CIA had sodomized prisoners, attacked them with dogs, piled them naked on top of each other, forced them to perform sex acts in front of cameras, and killed them.
“We didn’t know about it until we heard it on the TV news,” they said. But the TV news didn’t report it very quickly either. CBS held back their reporting of the abuse of Iraqi prisoners for several weeks, because the Army asked them too. And the captains of media continue to hold back.
Renegade documentarian Michael Moore’s new movie, Fahrenheit 911, which documents Bush family ties to the Saudi royal family and others involved in corrupt oil politics and terrorism and the implications of the Bush-Saudi relationship on preventing 911, has been censored by the Disney Corporation which owns the movie rights.
The Mickey Mouse corporation is afraid that release of the movie will cause the President’s brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, to remove tax breaks favorable to the Mouse’s plasticworld goo-goo doll theme park in Florida. And for that, the Mouse will prevent Moore’s information from reaching Americans?
Nobody like Bush or Rummy knew what was going on in Iraq, did they? Nobody at the top of the chain of command is gonna go down for this. Clinton got impeached for lying about a blow job, but Bush just sails along, grimacing and putting on the airs of a Texas cowboy, but nobody tries to impeach him. Why?
Nobody is accountable; they just didn’t know. And besides, it’s war and there’s bound to be innocent casualties. They call it “collateral damage.” Just like they don’t know about all the wrong-address drug raids that kill innocent Americans, about the families torn apart by the enforcers of marijuana laws, about the vicious combination of hubris and power and Teflon that means police can brutalize and kill people and get away with it, as long as the victims were suspected of drug crimes.
So far, none of the soldiers shown engaging in torture in the torture pictures is facing criminal charges. Nobody knows if the civilian contractors implicated in the abuses can even be prosecuted, due to legal loopholes.
No, this war in Iraq is not a “new” chapter in American brutality. It’s a continuation of something evil that started at home with the war on drugs.
I get emails, letters and other communications from people that give me lots of insight on what I report to you. I’m not writing articles to hear myself spout off. I’m here to report what’s happening in the real world. This journalism is a reality check for all of you sitting on your asses smoking joints, doing nothing to help stop all wars, hoping you never get found out, or who secretly enjoy prohibition because it keeps the price of weed so high that you can pay your mortgage by selling it.
Justin writes to me from Oklahoma recently, about his experience in 1999, when police stormed his house in the middle of the winter. He had a nine plant grow op. He swears to me that he never sold pot. His buddy tipped off the police. His buddy who had been arrested for drunk driving; his buddy who narked out Justin to avoid losing his license and going to jail.
During the raid, Justin says, police took him outside into his back yard-naked. They laughed at him while he shivered. They told him to confess to selling pot, and to provide the names of at least three other people who had grow rooms or lots of pot. Or else? Or else they’d kick his ass.
He told them to fuck off. He said he wanted to speak to an attorney.
They kicked his ass. He lost a few teeth.
Then, when his wife came home from work, they stripped her, touched her vagina and breasts, photographed her naked. They arrested her, too.
Justin went to jail for marijuana cultivation. He tried to find an attorney to sue the police. The attorneys were scared to take the case. A NORML attorney told him he ought to be grateful that worse didn’t happen, Justin said.
“Just leave it alone, and go to California if you want to grow,” was the attorney’s advice. Another victim told me that he and his girl friend were high school athletes who were forced to undergo urine testing so they could continue to participate in sports. His girlfriend didn’t smoke marijuana, but she tested positive for it, probably because she hung around with him when he toked up.
The boy was blamed; his car and locker were searched. The two athletes were kicked off their teams. The girl’s father broke up their friendship and shipped her off to a religious fanatic boot camp.
The boy organized a protest that had student athletes march into the principal’s office and demand an end to random drug testing. The principal pretended to agree with the youths. They all shook hands. Then, he expelled four of them, which harmed their chances of getting into college.
Another wartime experience: Juan, from San Diego, on the beach, quietly enjoying himself smoking a joint. A police officer with a dog walks up. The dog alerts, and clamps his teeth on Juan’s leg. Juan swallows the lit joint while kicking the dog in the face. He’s arrested for assaulting a police officer (the dog), possession of marijuana, obstructing justice, failure to respond to a lawful order, and destroying evidence.
His leg has a big scar on it. His bank account does too- he was eventually convicted only of a misdemeanor disorderly conduct, but it cost him $2700 in attorney’s fees to achieve that “victory.”
And on and on it goes. The war against plants. The war in Iraq. There are no wars against polluters, poachers, rapists, burglars, corrupt politicians, murderers. The FBI and other federal agencies were very busy hunting drug criminals before 9-11; they didn’t have the time, focus or resources to catch terrorists who killed 3,000 people, but they did have lots of success arresting sick and dying people involved with medpot in California.
If you’re one of the 750,000 Americans arrested for marijuana every year, you know how it feels to be hunted down, held down, treated like a prisoner.
Pot people know what it feels like to be warred against.
We are all Iraqis.