TomDispatch.com provides some strong and much needed counterprogramming to the usual 9/11 anniversary articles. This, by State Department whistleblower Peter Van Buren, brings to mind that old line about the U.S. being attacked because they “hate our freedom.” As Tom Engelhardt comments…
As for our freedoms, a lack of the slightest urge to prosecute anyone who committed a crime on Washington time means that our governmental officials now have extraordinary new freedoms — more license than 007 ever did — to kidnap, torture, abuse, murder, surveil, and assassinate (including American citizens). That’s a record to ponder as another September 11th rolls around and, living in the greatest nation on earth, you ask yourself: Who really won, them or us?”
We talk about never forgetting 9/11, yet there are whole realms of realities to both that event and the numerous actions and effects which have transpired as a result of it, that we aren’t even aware of in the first place in order to forget. Often times the knowledge of these realities is not only left in the dark, but actively suppressed, such as the with the ongoing prosecution of John Kiriakou, whose story is detailed in some length in Van Buren’s The Persecution of John Kiriakou: Torture and the Myth of Never Again.
Here is what military briefers like to call BLUF, the Bottom Line Up Front: no one except John Kiriakou is being held accountable for America’s torture policy. And John Kiriakou didn’t torture anyone, he just blew the whistle on it.
It is now common knowledge that between 2001 and about 2007 the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) sanctioned acts of torture committed by members of the Central Intelligence Agency and others. The acts took place in secret prisons (“black sites”) against persons detained indefinitely without trial. They were described in detail and explicitly authorized in a series of secret torture memos drafted by John Yoo, Jay Bybee, and Steven Bradbury, senior lawyers in the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel. (Office of Legal Counsel attorneys technically answer directly to the DOJ, which is supposed to be independent from the White House, but obviously was not in this case.) Not one of those men, or their Justice Department bosses, has been held accountable for their actions.
Some tortured prisoners were even killed by the CIA. Attorney General Eric Holder announced recently that no one would be held accountable for those murders either….
Jose Rodriguez, a senior CIA official, admitted destroying videotapes of potentially admissible evidence, showing the torture of captives by operatives of the U.S. government at a secret prison thought to be located at a Vietnam-War-era airbase in Thailand. He was not held accountable for deep-sixing this evidence, nor for his role in the torture of human beings.
The one man in the whole archipelago of America’s secret horrors facing prosecution is former CIA agent John Kiriakou. Of the untold numbers of men and women involved in the whole nightmare show of those years, only one may go to jail…
If Kiriakou had actually tortured someone himself, even to death, there is no possibility that he would be in trouble.
For at least six years it was the policy of the United States of America to torture and abuse its enemies or, in some cases, simply suspected enemies. It has remained a U.S. policy, even under the Obama administration, to employ “extraordinary rendition” — that is, the sending of captured terror suspects to the jails of countries that are known for torture and abuse, an outsourcing of what we no longer want to do.
Techniques that the U.S. hanged men for at Nuremburg and in post-war Japan were employed and declared lawful.
The same Department of Justice that is hunting down the one man who spoke against torture from the inside still maintains a special unit, 60 years after the end of WWII, dedicated to hunting down the last few at-large Nazis. They do that under the rubric of “never again.” The truth is that same team needs to be turned loose on our national security state. Otherwise, until we have a full accounting of what was done in our names by our government, the pieces are all in place for it to happen again. There, if you want to know, is the real horror.
When the government says that we should “never forget,” what they really mean is “never know.” And this lack of knowledge isn’t just about the ongoing violations of domestic and/or international law, or both (which it is). The U.S. has, in the name of and under the pretense of 9/11 as the excuse, embarked upon a set of premeditated policies which are in violation of the most long-standing and fundamental of globally recognized legal codes, those which are considered the domaine of hostis humani generis. Latin for “enemy of mankind,” such codes of prohibited conduct have existed long before the adoption of any modern international public law. This is about the inherently human recognition of behavior that fundamentally violates the very essence of our humanity.
Read the full text of Van Buren’s article Here
And if we lived in a society where the majority of its inhabitants were willing and able to have the truth expressed out loud to them; who would allow themselves to openly acknowledge the realities they know within their heart to be true, or at least realities which feature potions of a truth, which have been effectively and disingenuously suppressed from public debate, even public utterance, for the last decade; if we had a nation of people who possessed what George Orwell called ‘the power of facing,’ the ability and willingness to face facts, regardless of how unpleasant they might be, then words like these from Tom Engelhardt would be read aloud at the next ceremony commemorating the attacks of 9/11, and would be expressed publicly in the media and by the politician who wanted to actually serve his constituents, rather than manipulate and control them through fear and irrational nationalism.
Let’s just can it all. Shut down Ground Zero. Lock out the tourists. Close “Reflecting Absence,” the memorial built in the “footprints” of the former towers with its grove of trees, giant pools, and multiple waterfalls before it can be unveiled this Sunday. Discontinue work on the underground National September 11 Museum due to open in 2012. Tear down the Freedom Tower (redubbed 1 World Trade Center after our “freedom” wars went awry), 102 stories of “the most expensive skyscraper ever constructed in the United States.” (Estimated price tag: $3.3 billion.) Eliminate that still-being-constructed, hubris-filled 1,776 feet of building, planned in the heyday of George W. Bush and soaring into the Manhattan sky like a nyaah-nyaah invitation to future terrorists. Dismantle the other three office towers being built there as part of an $11 billion government-sponsored construction program. Let’s get rid of it all. If we had wanted a memorial to 9/11, it would have been more appropriate to leave one of the giant shards of broken tower there untouched.
Ask yourself this: ten years into the post-9/11 era, haven’t we had enough of ourselves? If we have any respect for history or humanity or decency left, isn’t it time to rip the Band-Aid off the wound, to remove 9/11 from our collective consciousness? No more invocations of those attacks to explain otherwise inexplicable wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and our oh-so-global war on terror. No more invocations of 9/11 to keep the Pentagon and the national security state flooded with money. No more invocations of 9/11 to justify every encroachment on liberty, every new step in the surveillance of Americans, every advance in pat-downs and wand-downs and strip downs that keeps fear high and the homeland security state afloat.
It’s a terrible thing to ask those still missing the dead of 9/11 to forgo the public spectacle that accompanies their memory, but worse is what we have: repeated solemn ceremonies to the ongoing health of the American war state and the wildest dreams of Osama bin Laden.
Memory is usually so important, but in this case we would have been better off with oblivion. It’s time to truly inter not the dead, but the worst urges in American life since 9/11 and the ceremonies which, for a decade, have gone with them. Better to bury all of that at sea with bin Laden and then mourn the dead, each in our own way, in silence and, above all, in peace.