Terrorism Torture as War Strategy


Terrorism Torture as War Strategy





Torture Orders Were Part of US Sectarian War Strategy

by Gareth Porter, November 02, 2010

The revelation by WikiLeaks of a U.S. military order directing U.S. forces not to investigate cases of torture of detainees by Iraqis has been treated in news reports as yet another case of lack of concern by the U.S. military about detainee abuse.

But the deeper significance of the order, which has been missed by the news media, is that it was part of a larger U.S. strategy of exploiting Shi’a sectarian hatred against Sunnis to help suppress the Sunni insurgency when Sunnis had rejected the U.S. war.

And Gen. David Petraeus was a key figure in developing the strategy of using Shi’a and Kurdish forces to suppress Sunnis in 2004-2005.

The strategy involved the deliberate deployment of Shi’a and Kurdish police commandos in areas of Sunni insurgency in the full knowledge that they were torturing Sunni detainees, as the reports released by WikiLeaks show.

That strategy inflamed Sunni fears of Shi’a rule and was a major contributing factor to the rise of al-Qaeda’s influence in the Sunni areas. The escalating Sunni-Shi’a violence it produced led to the massive sectarian warfare of 2006 in Baghdad in which tens of thousands of civilians –  mainly Sunnis – were killed.

The strategy of using primarily Shi’a and Kurdish military and police commando units to suppress Sunni insurgents was adopted after a key turning point in the war in April 2004, when Civil Defense Corps units throughout the Sunni region essentially disappeared overnight during an insurgent offensive.

Two months later, the U.S. military command issued “FRAGO [fragmentary order] 242,” which provided that no investigation of detainee abuse by Iraqis was to be conducted unless directed by the headquarters of the command, according to references to the order in the WikiLeaks documents.

The order came immediately after Gen. Petraeus took command of the new Multi-National Security Transition Command in Iraq (MNSTC-I). It was a clear signal that the U.S. command expected torture of prisoners to be a central feature of Iraqi military and police operations against Sunni insurgents.

Petraeus knew that it would take more than two years to build a competent Iraqi military officer corps, as he told Bing West, author of the The Strongest Tribe, in August 2004. Meanwhile, he would have to use Shi’a and Kurdish militias.

In September 2004, Petraeus adopted a plan to establish paramilitary units within the national police.

The initial units were from non-sectarian former Iraqi special forces teams. In October, however, Petraeus embraced the first clearly sectarian Shi’a militia unit – the 2,000-man Shi’a “Wolf Brigade,” as a key element of his police commando strategy, giving it two months of training with U.S. forces.

In November 2004, after 80 percent of the Sunni police defected to the insurgents in Mosul, the U.S. command dispatched 2,000 Kurdish peshmerga militiamen to Mosul, and five battalions of predominantly Shi’a troops, with a smattering of Kurds, were to police Ramadi. But a few weeks later, after the completion of its training, the Wolf Brigade was also sent to Mosul.

Hundreds of Shi’a troops from Baghdad and southern areas of the country were also sent into Samara and Fallujah.

It did not take long for the Wolf Brigade to acquire its reputation for torture of Sunni detainees. The Associated Press reported the case of a female detainee in Wolf Brigade custody in Mosul who was whipped with electric cables in order to get her to sign a false confession that she was a high-ranking local leader of the insurgency.

But an official of the U.S. command later told Richard Engel of NBC that the Wolf Brigade had been a very effective unit and had driven the insurgents out of Mosul.

The Wolf Brigade was then sent to Sunni neighbourhoods in Baghdad, where the Association of Muslim Scholars publicly accused it of having “arrested imams and the guardians of some mosques, tortured and killed them, and then got rid of their bodies in a garbage dump…”

The Wolf Brigade was also deployed to other Sunni cities, including Ramadi and Samarra, always in close cooperation with U.S. military units.

The war logs released by WikiLeaks include a number of reports from Samarra in 2004 and 2005 describing how the U.S. military had handed their captives over to the Wolf Brigade for “further questioning.” The implication was that the Shi’a commandos would be able to extract more information from the detainees than would be allowed by U.S. rules.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, who succeeded Petraeus as the commander responsible for training Iraqi security forces in September 2005, hinted strongly in an interview with Elizabeth Vargas of ABC News three months later that the U.S. command accepted the Wolf Brigade’s harsh interrogation methods as a necessary feature of using Iraqi counterinsurgency forces.

Dempsey said, “We are fighting through a very harsh environment… these guys are not fighting on the streets of Bayonne, New Jersey.” Contrary to the Western notion of “innocent until proven guilty,” he said the view in Iraq was “close” to the “opposite.”

Vargas reported, “For Dempsey, a big part of building a viable police force is learning to accept, if not embrace, the cultural differences.”

A second stage of the strategy of sectarian war against the Sunnis came after the new Shi’a government’s takeover of the Interior Ministry in April 2005. The Shi’a minister immediately filled the Iraqi police – especially the commando units – with Shi’a troops from the Badr Corps, the Iranian-trained forces loyal to the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq.

Within days the Badr Corps, along with the Wolf Brigade, began a campaign of mass arrests, torture, and assassination of Sunnis in Baghdad and elsewhere that was widely reported by news agencies.

The U.S. command responded to that development by issuing a new version of the previous order on what to do about Iraqi torture, according to the WikiLeaks documents. On April 29, 2005, the U.S. command issued FRAGO 039 requiring reports through operational channels on Iraqi abuse of prisoners using a format attached to the order. But no follow-up investigation was to be made unless directed by higher headquarters.

The former minister of interior, Falah al-Naquib, later told Knight-Ridder correspondent Tom Lasseter that he had personally warned Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other U.S. officials about the sectarian violence by Badr police commandos against Sunnis. “They didn’t take us seriously,” he lamented.

In fact, the U.S. military and the U.S. embassy were well aware of the serious risk that the strategy of relying on vengeful Shi’a police commandos to track down Sunnis would exacerbate sectarian tensions between Sunnis and Shi’a. In May 2005, Ann Scott Tyson wrote in the Washington Post that U.S. military analysts did not deny that the U.S. strategy “aggravates the underlying fault lines in Iraqi society, heightening the prospects of civil strife.”

In late July 2005, when Petraeus was still heading the command, an unnamed “senior American officer” at MNSTC-I was asked by John F. Burns of the New York Times whether the U.S. might end up arming Iraqis for a civil war. The officer answered, “Maybe.”

The U.S.-sponsored Shi’a assault on the Sunnis gave al-Qaeda a new opportunity. In mid-2005, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, announced the creation of a special unit, the Omar Brigade, to combat the Shi’a commando torture and death squads. That led to the massive sectarian bloodletting in Baghdad in 2006, when thousands of civilians were dying every month.

(Inter Press Service)

Read more by Gareth Porter


10/24 “Licence to Torture”; Iraq’s U.S. Proxy Death Squads …Nothing New

Posted October 25th, 2010 by lizburbank

over 1,300,000 Iraqis Slaughtered in U.S. Invasion and Occupation of Iraq

Obama: “we don’t want to be seen to be a nation responsible for major human rights violations”…

The Pentagon has condemned the new leaks, once again calling on WikiLeaks to delete the files. Spokesman Marine Corps Colonel Dave Lapan said: “We deplore WikiLeaks for inducing individuals to break the law, leak classified documents and then cavalierly share that secret information with the world, including our enemies.”We know terrorist organisations have been mining the leaked Afghan documents for information to use against us, and this Iraq leak is more than four times as large.”The only responsible course of action for WikiLeaks at this point is to return the stolen material and expunge it from their websites as soon as possible.”
US secretary of state Hilary Clinton’ has also condemned the leak in a TV address….Speaking on the BBC’s Today programme, UN special rapporteur on torture, Manfred Nowak…said the Obama administation came to power promising change… saying “we don’t want to be seen to be a nation responsible for major human rights violations”…

“It’s not a matter of what is true that counts but a matter of what is perceived to be true.”
Henry Kissinger

“I need you to keep on believing. I need you to keep on hoping,”
Obama 10/22/10, University of Southern California stop on whirlwind five-state tour.

U.S. UNABLE TO DEFEAT IRAQI NATIONAL RESISTANCE aka “insurgency”/”al qaeda”/”terrorists” etc.
A WAVE of targeted attacks on soldiers, police, and senior officials is nearing the darkest days of the insurgency, according to security commanders.

Iraq war logs: Frago 242 – a licence to torture
US military files reveal high level US instruction to ignore detainee abuse by Iraqi authorities, what that meant on the ground and how far up the chain of command the order went

The invasion and occupation of Iraq a premeditated murderous act of aggression
By Ghali Hassan
The illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq by U.S. forces provides the best recent example of murderous atrocities based on deception. From the big lie of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) invented in Washington and London to the big lie of Abu Mussab Al-Zarqawi, the alleged Al-Qaeda mastermind, resort to deception is the art of Western powers.Despite mounting evidence Al-Zarqawi was killed in northern Iraq at the beginning of the war, his phantom is used to justify the ongoing atrocities in Iraq… a bogyman used by the Americans, an excuse to continue the occupation…an invention by the occupiers to divide the people…”The alleged presence of Al-Zarqawi has two important purposes for the U.S: to deny the legitimate Iraqi Resistance; and to present the Occupation as a war against Al-Qaeda, the U.S. created enemy….

The Defense Department told NBC News it didn’t dispute the accuracy of the material released by WikiLeaks, which documented U.S. military officials’ allegations of rape, torture and abuse by Iraqi soldiers and police, which U.S. commanders didn’t investigate.Because of the sheer mass of data dumped on the world — nearly 400,000 secret U.S. military field reports — and perhaps reflecting their differing stances toward the U.S. military operation, the privileged news organizations that published Friday approached the material from markedly different perspectives…The Guardian, Le Monde and Al-Jazeera …The Times’ three, The New York Times, MSNBC equally…more in line with the official Defense Department position
Julian Assange, who is often called the founder of WikiLeaks, said in an interview on Al-Jazeera that the Pentagon rejected its offer to help review the documents.
“The Pentagon rebuffed us in relation to scrutinizing the documents. Their claims were they were not interested in any discussion of minimization … or redaction,” Assange said. “Their demand was these documents be destroyed or returned to the Pentagon and that we destroy all future publications and all past publications.”

While the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by Americans, particularly at the Abu Ghraib prison, shocked the American public and much of the world, the documents paint an even more lurid picture of abuse by America’s Iraqi allies — a brutality from which the Americans at times averted their eyes.
As it did with the Afghan war logs, The Times has redacted or withheld any documents that would put lives in danger or jeopardize continuing military operations. Names of Iraqi informants, for example, have not been disclosed. WikiLeaks said that it has also employed teams of editors to scrub the material for posting on its Web site.
WikiLeaks has been under strong pressure from the United States and the governments of other countries but is also fraying internally, in part because of a decision to post many of the Afghan documents without removing the names of informants, putting their lives in danger. A profile of WikiLeaks’s contentious founder, Julian Assange, appears here [ed: the character assassination by 2 of the NYT’s ‘best’ state propagandists, Eric Schmitt & Dexter Filkins, is so vicious and vacuous it lends credibility to Assange whose political purpose remains unclear].The New York Times told the Pentagon which specific documents it planned to post and showed how they had been redacted. The Pentagon said it would have preferred that The Times not publish any classified materials but did not propose any cuts. Geoff Morrell, the Defense Department press secretary, strongly condemned both WikiLeaks and the release of the Iraq documents. “We deplore WikiLeaks for inducing individuals to break the law, leak classified documents and then cavalierly share that secret information with the world, including our enemies,” he said. “We know terrorist organizations have been mining the leaked Afghan documents for information to use against us and this Iraq leak is more than four times as large. By disclosing such sensitive information, WikiLeaks continues to put at risk the lives of our troops, their coalition partners and those Iraqis and Afghans working with us.” Read full Pentagon response »http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/23/world/middleeast/23intro.html

“There is no such thing, at this date of the world’s history, in America, as an independent press. The business of the journalists is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.”
John Swinton, Chief of Staff New York Times at New York Press Club, 1953

US will hire another 7,000 security contractors for Iraq
WASHINGTON, Oct 21 (KUNA) — The US government will hire an additional 7, 000 security contractors once Congress approves the 2011 budget. Speaking at the annual Arab-US Policymakers conference in Washington, Michael Corbin, Deputy Assistant Secretary for State for Iraq said security contractors to help “the Iraqi government improve its police department and other civil agencies.” The State Department takes on greater roles training the Iraqi police and establishing a permanent diplomatic presence there, said Corbin.

8/8/10 Gen. Ray Odierno: U.S. Troops Staying in Iraq to Prevent Foreign Interference

7-29-10: Gates and Mullen: Wikileaks Might Already Have Blood on Their Hands

Iraq’s Sectarian Bloodshed ‘Made in the USA’
by Erik Leaver and Raed Jarrar, Asia Times
When the US ousted Saddam Hussein in April 2003, crime spiked and full-scale looting erupted. But there were no signs of sectarian clashes. That quickly changed, however, as the U.S. administration assumed control over Iraq, led by Paul Bremer.

The Minister of Civil War: Paul Bremer, and the rise of the Iraqi death squads
Bayan Jabr,
Harper’s Magazine, August 2006. By Ken Silverstein.

Iraq’s New (sic) Death Squad
Shane Bauer | June 3, 2009
The Iraq Special Operations Forces (ISOF),probably the largest special forces outfit ever built by the United States…started in the deserts of Jordan just after the Americans took Baghdad in April 2003. There, US Army Special Forces, or Green Berets, trained Iraqis with no prior military experience. The resulting brigade was a Green Beret’s dream come true: a deadly, elite, covert unit, fully fitted with American equipment, that would operate under US command and be unaccountable to Iraqi ministries and the normal political process.
According to Congressional records, the ISOF has grown into nine battalions, which extend to four regional “commando bases” across Iraq. By December, each will be complete with its own “intelligence infusion cell,” which will operate independently of Iraq’s other intelligence networks. The ISOF is at least 4,564 operatives strong, making it approximately the size of the US Army’s own Special Forces in Iraq. Congressional records indicate that there are plans to double the ISOF over the next “several years.”
According to retired Lt. Col. Roger Carstens, US Special Forces are “building the most powerful force in the region.” In 2008 Carstens, then a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, was an adviser to the Iraqi National Counter-Terror Force, where he helped set up the Iraqi counterterrorism laws that govern the ISOF. “All these guys want to do is go out and kill bad guys all day,” he says, laughing. “These guys are shit hot. They are just as good as we are. We trained ’em. They are just like us. They use the same weapons. They walk like Americans.”…. US Special Forces operatives like Carstens have overseen the …[“Iraqi” Counter-Terrorism Bureaubureau. Carstens says this independent chain of command “might be the perfect structure” for counterterrorism worldwide….
The effective head of the American ISOF project, General Trombitas of the Iraq National Counter-Terror Transition Team… spent nearly seven of his over thirty years in the military training special forces in Colombia, El Salvador and other countries. February 23 he gave me a tour of Area IV, a joint American-Iraqi base near the Baghdad International Airport, where US Special Forces train the ISOF… though he’s worked with special forces all over the world, he tells me the men we are about to meet are “the best.”…Trombitas told the official blog of the Defense Department the training missions used in Latin America are “extremely transferable” to Iraq. Salvadoran Special Forces even helped train the ISOF, he tells me. “It’s a world of coalitions…The longer we work together, the more alike we are. When we share our values and our experiences with other armies, we make them the same.” Trombitas guides me into a warehouse where ISOF operatives, most of them in black masks, have been preparing for our arrival. He walks me through a special display of their American equipment–machine guns, sniper rifles, state-of-the-art night-vision equipment and fluffy desert camo that makes soldiers look like teddy bears. He takes me up a catwalk overlooking a fake house stocked with cartoonish posters of big-breasted women pointing pistols, a couple of real men dressed as “terrorists” with kaffiyehs wrapped around their faces and a 10-year-old boy playing hostage. As we stand in the observation area, the door explodes. After a minute of constant shooting, the operatives march out with the “terrorists,” the boy and a poster of an ’80s-style villain, wearing a jean jacket and holding a woman hostage. More than twenty bullet holes are centered on his forehead. “Look at that marksmanship,” Trombitas says, smiling proudly…
Trombitas is “very proud of what was done in El Salvador” but avoids the fact that special forces trained there by the US in the early 1980s were responsible for death squads that killed more than 50,000 civilians thought to be sympathetic with leftist guerrillas. Guatemala was a similar case. Guatemalan special forces trained in anti-terrorism tactics by the United States during the mid-1960s became death squads… killing of around 140,000 people. In the early 1990s, US Special Forces trained and worked closely with an elite Colombian police unit strongly suspected of carrying out some of the murders attributed to Los Pepes, a death squad that became the backbone of the country’s current paramilitary organization….
President Obama said he plans to increase reliance on the US Special Forces…”The eventual drawdown in Iraq is not the end of the mission for our elite forces,” Gates said in May 2008… Obama says he will institutionalize irregular warfare capabilities, and the White House stresses the need to “create a more robust capacity to train, equip and advise foreign security forces, so that local allies are better prepared to confront mutual threats.”

US proxy death squads declared due to Shiite ‘infiltration’ to cover-up the reality of U.S. and its “iraqi govt.” led “civil war” to ‘splinter’ Iraq – as per US strategy
Iraq’s Death Squads
OF ALL THE bloodshed in Iraq, none may be more disturbing than the campaign of torture and murder being conducted by U.S.-trained government police forces
Many of the death squads are run by the Badr Organization, which is the military wing of the leading party in Iraq’s Shiite-led government. Reports last week in the Los Angeles Times and New York Times chronicled how Iraqi Interior Ministry commando and police units have been infiltrated by two Shiite militias, which have been conducting ethnic cleansing and rounding up Sunnis suspected of supporting the insurgency. Hundreds of bodies have been appearing along roadsides and in garbage dumps, some with acid burns or with holes drilled in them…
A dirty war conducted by the Iraqi government against one ethnic group will make civil war inevitable. It will render impossible a political accord among Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds, while increasing the likelihood that Iraq will splinter.

Cooperative Sadr surprises U.S. The Shiite cleric, long a foe of America, says it backs the new Iraq security plan.
Borzou Daragahi, LATimes Staff Writer
Muqtada Sadr, the radical anti-American cleric [SIC], has backed away from confrontation with U.S. and Iraqi forces in recent weeks, a move that has surprised [SIC] U.S. officials who long have characterized his followers as among the greatest threats to Iraq’s security. Thursday, a leader of the Sadr movement in one of its Baghdad strongholds publicly endorsed President Bush’s new Iraq security plan, which at least some U.S. officials have touted as a way to combat Sadr’s group. “We will fully cooperate with the government to make the plan successful,” said Abdul-Hussein Kaabai, head of the local council in the Shiite Muslim-dominated Sadr City neighborhood. “If it is an Iraqi plan done by the government, we will cooperate.”…

Mahdi Army ‘Not to Resist’ U.S. Troops
By Nidhal al-Laithihttp: http//www.azzaman.com/english/index.asp?fname=news\2007-01-15\kurd.htm
The Mahdi Army, the Shiite militia group blamed for much of the sectarian violence in Iraq, has taken several measures to alleviate the impact of a possible attack by U.S. troops. The United States is sending thousands of more troops to Baghdad as part of a new strategy to pacify the restive city. Moqtada al-Sadr, often described as a ‘radical anti-American cleric,’ is at the center of Iraq’s growing sectarian divide. He has reportedly ordered the commanders of the Mahdi Army,which he controls, to hold their fire when the Americans begin
operating in Sadr City and other Shiite areas….

Craig Murray described how US / UK have been flying citizens of many other nations into Uzbekistan to be _tortured_ – in Uzbekistan that includes boiling muslims to death, or rape with a broken bottle.

photo- http://jamblichus.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/boi

2004 U.S. Strategy in the Muslim World After 9/11: Promote Sunni, Shiite, Arab and non-Arab Divides
Rand Corporation Study Conducted on behalf of the US Air Force

U.S. Considers Dividing Iraq Into Three Separate States After Saddam Is Gone
http://www.profutures.comarticle.php/91/%20 Stratfor.com http://www.stratfor.com/
Stratfor.com is one of the most respected geopolitical intelligence services in the world. Stratfor’s high-level sources tell them one of the leading long-term strategies being considered by US war planners is one that will DIVIDE Iraq into three separate regions. Under this plan Iraq would CEASE TO EXIST. (emphases added}…
Stratfor says such a plan reportedly was discussed at an unusual meeting between Crown Prince Hassan of Jordan and pro-US Iraqi Sunni opposition members in London in July. Further, they say that in September, the Israeli newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, stated that the US goal in Iraq was to create a United Hashemite Kingdom that would encompass Jordan and Iraq’s Sunni areas. Also, Israeli terrorism expert Ehud Sprinzak recently echoed this sentiment on Russian television on September 24.
According to Stratfor, Sprinzak stated that the authors of the “Hashemite” plan are Vice President Dick Cheney and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz…
1. Stratfor’s Latest Intelligence On Iraq.
2. Iraq Is Too Big For One New Government.
3. US Would Divide Into Three Separate States.
4. Central Iraq (Sunnis) Would Join With Jordan
5. The Shia Region Would Join With Kuwait.
6. The Kurds Get Their Own State In The North
7. Iraq Ceases To Exist
8. Investment Market Implications.

Blood borders: How a better Middle East would look
By Ralph Peters, U.S. Armed Forces Journal – June 2006

Iraq, “The Salvador Option” Becomes Reality
By Max Fuller, 06/03/05
US-UK propaganda campaign has left many all too willing to believe in such bugbears as Al-Zarqawi (see Michel Chossudovsky’s ‘Who is Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi?’ (http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO405B.html ). What we do know, however, is that hundreds of Iraqis are being murdered and that paramilitary hit squads of the proxy government organized by US trainers with a fulsome pedigree in state terrorism are increasingly being associated with them.
“The pattern is repeated time after time in every imperialist so-called counter-insurgency war; for behind each and every one lurks the reality of exploitation and class war, and, as successive imperialist powers have shown, the bottom line in combating the hopes and dreams of ordinary people is to resort to spreading terror through the application of extreme violence. A spokesman for the Association of Muslim Scholars, Hareth al-Dhari, put it more succinctly: “This is state terrorism.”

There Is “No War on Terror”
by Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, 21 Jan 2008

CIA-Trained Death Squad Targeting Militants In Pakistan
CNN Wire Staff September 22, 2010

‘Abusive’ Pakistani units lose aid
US will cut off funds to army units accused of extrajudicial killings, reports say, as foreign ministers meet in Washington

U.S. imperialist globalization of state terror
US-trained cartel terrorises Mexico:
Founders of the Zetas drug gang learned special forces techniques at Ft. Bragg before waging a campaign of carnage.




UN calls for US, Iraqi probe of Wikileaks reports


Tue Oct 26, 1:07 pm ET

GENEVA – The United Nations’ top human rights official called on Tuesday for the U.S. and Iraq to investigate allegations of detainee abuse contained in Wikileaks’ release of American military documents.

The online whistleblower put out nearly 400,000 field reports by American soldiers on Friday. Many of them contained reports of severe abuse by Iraqi forces, and showed that U.S. troops did not intervene to halt the violence in many cases .

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said the information adds to “concerns that serious breaches of international human rights law have occurred in Iraq.”

Pillay said that the U.S. and Iraq should prosecute anyone believed responsible for torture, unlawful killings and other abuses.

The documents show that U.S. forces turned detainees over to Iraqi forces even after signs of abuse.

They also show that U.S. interrogators continued to question Iraqi detainees, some of whom were still recovering from injuries or whose wounds were still visible after being held by Iraqi security forces.

Defense Department spokesman Col. Dave Lapan told reporters the Pentagon suspects Wikileaks may have even more classified U.S. data than previously reported, but declined to characterize it.

The group is believed to have another 15,000 Afghan war field reports, 260,000 diplomatic cables and U.S. video of casualties in Afghanistan.

The U.S. has said that the release of secret Afghan and Iraq war documents threatens national security.


Ten Ways Bush Resembles History’s Tyrants
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by Sherwood Ross | May 12, 2007 – 10:48am

As public sentiment begins to build for impeachment, it might be illuminating to examine the many ways President Bush operates in a manner reminiscent of history’s tyrants. Here are 10 areas that come readily to mind.


First, tyrants tend to see themselves, as Hitler did, at the head of some kind of “master race.” President Bush and his backers would deny it, but their drive for a “New American Century” betrays them. They’re world-beaters, and won’t sign the global warming treaty or any other cooperative document. Republicans at their last Convention jeered the very mention of the words “United Nations.” Those who see it differently get slandered. Recall how Bush’s hatchet men impugned Senator Kerry’s Vietnam War record. This was reminiscent of Nazi claims Germany’s Jewish veterans of the Great War did not deserve their medals. Another manifestation is Neocons would reduce gay and lesbian Americans to second-class citizenship status. Bush’s backers are convinced of their superiority at home and globally. Â

Second, tyrants tend to be congenital, brazen liars. Bush lied about Iraq’s threat to America just as Hitler lied when he claimed Poland attacked Germany first in 1939. The UN told Bush there was no WMD in Iraq, yet Bush said there was and made war. He knew better. As many as 600,000 Iraqi civilians are dead, 2-million have fled, and a nation is being destroyed before our eyes.

Third, tyrants engage in outright suppression or manipulation of the news. The Bush Administration has paid off newsmen to plug its achievements, sent out video press releases disguised as news stories, banned photographs of coffins returned from Iraq, and even planted a phony journalist in White House press conferences. And it’s spending millions to bribe Iraqi journalists.

Fourth, tyrants will use a “crisis” to grab total power. After the massacre of 9/11, President Bush pushed through the Patriot Act. Recall 1933, when Hitler declared a “state of national emergency” after the Reichstag (Parliament) fire, which likely was set by the Nazis. The new law gives Bush the power to arrest any American citizen on his say-so and he has allowed his intelligence agencies to spy illegally on American citizens without a court order.Â

Fifth, tyrants torture. Of all people, Bush picked Alberto Gonzalez for the top legal position in the nation, the very man who rationalized the torture of captives. Bush also lavishes billions on dictatorships such as Egypt, whose Gestapo obligingly tortures individuals the CIA kidnaps from other countries. Bush has turned back the clock of history to the Spanish Inquisition.

Sixth, tyrants tend to make serial wars. Soviet Russia’s Stalin attacked Finland, Poland, and Hungary. Japan struck Korea, Manchuria, China, America, and U.K. One war is never enough for a tyrant. Recall Napoleon invaded nations to liberate them from kings, only to put his relatives on their thrones. Having invaded Afghanistan and setting Iraq ablaze, Bush now threatens Iran — three countries that are oil-rich or geographically sited for oil transmission lines or both.Â

Seventh, tyrants are notorious for their closed mindedness. They ignore their critics. Japan walked out of the League of Nations rather than answer for its conduct. Bush doesn’t listen to critics, either. The Pope denounced America’s war on Iraq as immoral. The UN Secretary-General called it “illegal.” Millions the world over protested it. And a majority of Americans call it wrong but Bush ignores them. Polls show 70% of the Iraqi people want the U.S. to get out but Bush refuses.

Eighth, tyrants spend lavishly on the military. In the Thirties, Germany, Japan and Soviet Russia devoted a high percentage of their gross national product to their war machines. Today, America spends more on armaments than all other nations combined. And America under Bush is the Number One arms merchant in the world.

Ninth, tyrants don’t respect the sovereignty of other nations. Bush rationalized his attack on Iraq as “preventive war” — a euphemism for “aggression.” The Pentagon has already dropped troops secretly into Iran, according to Seymour Hersh in “The New Yorker.” The Pentagon operates 700 military bases in 130 countries and refuses to leave Okinawa and Greenland despite protests from their citizens.

Tenth, tyrants have double standards. Bush declares he’s for “freedom” but forges alliances with the heads of Saudi Arabia, and former Soviet Asian republics where citizens have zero rights. He warns Iran against making a nuclear bomb while he scraps non-proliferation treaties to make America’s nuclear arsenal more lethal. Bush threatens Iran, which spends $4-billion a year on arms, while he spends $500-billion on arms. He warns Iran might make a nuclear bomb while he has 10,000. He accused Saddam Hussein of germ warfare capability while he has been secretly building the greatest germ warfare capability of any nation in history since the Soviet Union under Stalin.

Are these reasons grounds for impeachment? Not if you believe this is the New American Century. Not if you believe Americans are the Master Race.  Not if you believe America should rule the world.

About authorSherwood Ross is an American reporter who has worked for major American newspapers and magazines as well as international wire services. To comment on this article or arrange for speaking engagements: sherwoodr1@yahoo.com 


David Kuo’s Book “Tempting Faith”: The Author’s Agenda, the Authoritarian Behavior He Reports, And the White House’s Response
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by John W. Dean | October 20, 2006 – 9:21am

— from FindLaw (posted here with permission)


David Kuo, the former deputy-director of the Bush White House’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, recently published a book, Tempting Faith. The book’s most controversial claim is that members of the Bush administration have been privately trashing some of the very Religious Right leaders who helped put them in power.

For example, Kuo told “60 Minutes” that he had heard people in the White House political affairs office, Karl Rove’s operation, refer to Pat Robertson as “insane,” call Jerry Falwell “ridiculous,” and say that James Dobson “had to be controlled.”

In this column, I’ll consider claims that Kuo must have a hidden political agenda, analyze the implication of the badmouthing of the religious right by Rove’s team, and consider the Administration’s responses to Kuo.

What Is David Kuo’s Hidden Political Agenda — If He Has One?

First, let’s consider the question of what Kuo’s hidden agenda, if any, might be.

It’s a question that’s being asked by countless Republicans who want to know what prompted a former White House insider (in an administration that is highly intolerant of dissent, and adverse to giving outsiders an inside look) to write (and speak out) about the hypocrisy of Bush’s political operatives — especially just before the midterm election? In theory, Kuo, a committed Christian and a Republican, ought to seek to keep the Republicans in Congress, not to torpedo their chances come November.

When CBS News asked Kuo about his motives, he said he had been greatly disappointed with what he saw as the gap, recurring time and again, between what Bush promised his Evangelical Christian supporters and what he actually delivered. This disparity, Kuo said, had “been gnawing at both him and his wife since 2003, when [Kuo] learned he had a malignant brain tumor, and left politics for good.”

When asked by “60 Minutes” about whether he anticipated his colleagues would attack him, Kuo responded, “Of course they will. I can hear the attacks, right? ‘Oh, he’s really a liberal.’ or, ‘Oh, maybe that brain tumor really messed up his head.’ Or, you know, ‘He’s an idealist.'” Regardless, Kuo says, “I’m fine with it.”

There’s really no reason, then, to think Kuo has any hidden political agenda. He’s admitted his disappointment in the Bush Administration. And he’s sought out the best forum possible — a book where he can set forth the details of how he believes Bush and his aides are politically manipulating Christians — at the best time, to call attention to his inside knowledge to those who share his beliefs. His agenda seems to be the simple one he claims: To convey to his fellow Christians how much he feels the Bush White House has let them down.

Kuo notes that — unlike the Bush White House, and the Republican National Committee — he does not believe that Jesus should be reduced “to some precinct captain, to some get-out-the-vote guy.” But that, however, Kuo says, is exactly the Republicans’ belief: “This message that has been sent out to Christians for a long time now: that Jesus came primarily for a political agenda, and recently primarily a right-wing political agenda — as if this culture war is a war for God. And it’s not a war for God, it’s a war for politics. And that’s a huge difference,” says Kuo.

As these revelations by David Kuo were surfacing, I was exchanging emails with Bob Altemeyer, a social scientist who brings four decades of research to bear on understanding the behavior both of the Bush White House, as well as with Evangelicals who are being manipulated by Bush and his aides. Altemeyer was too unique a source to not probe him about these activities.

The Behavior Kuo Has Reported In the White House Is Typical of Authoritarians

Altemeyer is a Yale-trained social psychologist who teaches and pursues his research at the University of Manitoba. Altemeyer has studied authoritarianism for the past 40 years, and is considered by his peers to be a leading authority on the subject, not to mention a cutting-edge researcher in the field.

Those who have read my latest book, Conservatives Without Conscience, will be familiar with his work, and the fact that I have been encouraging him to write about his research for the general reader. (I also discussed the theory of authoritarian leadership, in conjunction with the Bush Administration, in a prior column.) Happily, Altemeyer has recently completed a book-length work, The Authoritarians, which provides a non-technical account of his findings, suitable for the general reader.

Based on my exchanges with Altemeyer, I have assembled the following Q & A:

Q: The Bush White House gave religious leaders smiles and hugs up front, but then called them “nuts,” “ridiculous,” “goofy,” “out of control,” and so on behind their backs. Does this surprise you?

A: No, not at all. In fact, I wrote about just such behavior in my manuscript for The Authoritarians. So it must be true.

Q: You predicted this very thing would happen?

A: Well, no. But one can reasonably predict that Bush Administration officials will have a low opinion of the people they so successfully manipulated into supporting them. Adolf Hitler — a worst-case but textbook example — showed the disdain of all authoritarian leaders for their supporters when he said, “What good fortune for those in power that people do not think.”

Q: You’re not saying the Bush administration is full of Nazis, so I am not sure I get the point?

A: I’m saying, as you have discovered, that it has a lot of people with authoritarian personalities. Let me explain for your readers, or those who have not read your new book. There are two kinds of authoritarians, whom researchers can identify by their answers to certain personality tests. There are people who become leaders in authoritarian movements, and there are their followers. The leaders have stronger drives for personal power and they are also pretty amoral. Compared with most folks, they admit, when answering surveys anonymously, that manipulating others, exploiting the gullible, intimidating, cheating, and being a hypocrite are all justified if they get you what you want. They say one of the best skills a person can develop is the ability to look someone straight in the eye and lie convincingly. They say the world is full of suckers who deserve to be “taken” because they are so stupid. All in all it sounds like the game plan for how Bush won Ohio in the last election.

Q: Democrats, of course, do these things too. Republicans don’t have a monopoly on lying, cheating, and playing people for suckers.

A: Good point. No, they certainly don’t. These power-hungry dominators will join anything and say they believe in anything to get what they want. But studies find that conservative politicians are much more likely to have this kind of personality than liberals are. Why? Because they usually have conservative economic and political beliefs. But more importantly, they head for the right because that’s where the great majority of authoritarian followers are concentrated, looking for a leader.

Q: Why on the right?

A: The followers have a great desire to submit to established authority. They’re also highly conventional, and they have a lot of aggression in them, which studies show comes primarily from being fearful. One of the classic reactions to fear is to fight, and the followers will attack when their authorities tell them to. They love to feel part of a “great movement” in solidarity with others on the move. They are very zealous. They usually are also highly religious, in a fundamentalist sense at least, and studies show they lead the league in self-righteousness. As we have discussed in the past, while there may be such people on the left, they are pretty rare compared with the number we find on the right.

Q: Why do these authoritarians follow amoral, hypocritical, deceitful liars?

A: Because of one of their great vulnerabilities, which the manipulative dominators exploit. Authoritarian followers have basically copied the ideas of the authorities in their lives. They haven’t thought about things to any great degree and then decided what they believe in. To maintain their beliefs in a world of challenging discoveries and conflicting beliefs, they associate as much as possible with others who agree with them. They travel in small circles, getting booster shots of faith from one another. They rely upon social support, rather than evidence or logic, to keep on believing what in many cases they’ve simply memorized. But this makes them quite vulnerable to manipulators who tell them what they want to hear. Experiments show that they’re so glad to find another person who will tell them that they are right, that they don’t consider that the newcomer might have ulterior motives. All you have to do to get into their “in-group” is tell them they are right, even if you don’t believe a word of it. Since the in-group is made up of followers clinging to each other and looking for a leader, it’s pretty easy for an unscrupulous person to take over– provided he can outmaneuver the other dominators trying the same thing.

Q: So the followers are “suckers” — so to speak?

A: Well, faith-healers and various enterprising evangelists have been playing them for suckers for a long time. Lately political strategists have seen how rich the takings are, and jumped in. They mobilized the Religious Right, which has become the most potent force in American politics. Its rank and file is very organized, very energetic, very devoted, and earnestly does what it is told by its authoritarian leaders.

Q: You’re saying then that, ironically, if the Religious Right has its way, the White House and Congress will be filled with amoral people.

A: Yes, I am, although of course there would be exceptions. And I’d say the proof is already right in front of us. When did we ever have a president who insisted on having the “right” to torture people, or a Congress that voted for it? How often have we had an administration deciding it could suspend habeas corpus and other constitutional guarantees, and Congress going along? And you can see this amorality on the individual level. Look at the members of the House of Representatives who have been convicted of crimes lately. Or look at the list of the 20 most corrupt members of the House compiled by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics. Every one of these lawmakers got high marks for his voting record from the James Dobson/Tony Perkins Family Research Council. That’s not a coincidence. There’s this remarkable, actually weird but understandable, connection between being corrupt and being elected by the Religious Right. The crooks head for the Religious Right. The gullible rank and file don’t realize this. But they send far more than their fair share of bribe-taking, influence peddling, money laundering, lying scoundrels to executive mansions and legislatures election after election.”

Q: Do you think that may change?

A: Maybe it will. Maybe books such as Mr. Kuo’s will turn on the lights. But who comprises the bulk of that third of the American population who still think President Bush is doing a good job? We know from studies that authoritarian followers are incredibly dogmatic and quite capable of ignoring facts they don’t like. So maybe someone can fool some of the people all of the time.

Reactions of the Authoritarians In the Bush White House To Kuo’s Disclosures

Q: Based on our prior discussions, and your extensive research, I have a multi-part question: the Religious Right, and the various evangelical movements, are highly authoritarian. So (1) how are they likely to respond to being called nuts, insane, etc. by people in the White House they were working to help? And (2) what will they do to David Kuo — thank him, or join the White House effort to discredit him?

A: Most authoritarian followers are not likely to find out that people in the White House talk about their religious leaders this way, unless the particular leaders make a big deal out of it. They’re not likely to read Kuo’s book, nor follow the news relating to his revelations. If they saw the segment on “60 Minutes,” they might be troubled; but when followers get troubled, they don’t typically investigate further, but instead look for reassurance from their authorities. It comes from being a follower.

The answer to the second question follows pretty directly. They’re not going to thank David Kuo for his revelations, if they do hear about them. These are unpleasant revelations, and besides, Kuo has broken one of the basic norms of an authoritarian movement: group solidarity. As well, authoritarian followers are highly ethnocentric, and they would handle Kuo the same way they handled Tom DeLay, “Duke” Cunningham, Bob Ney, Thomas Foley, and so on. They will simply chip them off from their in-group: “They weren’t really Us.” If that seems impossible to you, remember that authoritarian followers are still likely to believe Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, and helped organize the 9/11 attacks.

Q: Finally, explain why your answers are not your opinions, but rather conclusions you draw from empirical research?

A: It’s probably more accurate to say my answers are based on scientific studies that dealt with these issues in general. But yes, I and others have conducted many, many surveys and run lots of experiments to see how authoritarian leaders and authoritarian followers think and act in various situations. There really is a lot of agreement in all these studies, and they lead to some scary insights. What is coming to light in books such as Mr. Kuo’s, and Mr. Woodward’s State of Denial, and especially in your book, Conservatives Without Conscience, is a documentation of how relevant and “on the mark” these studies are. If the Democrats take control of the House after November, we’re probably going to have a lot more confirmations from the investigations that will be undertaken.

About authorJohn W. Dean is a columnist for FindLaw and a former counsel to the President. 


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“You can’t enslave a free man, the best you can do is kill him” R.A.Heinlein

“The greatest threat to liberty will come from government officials claiming to be acting for noble purposes.” Justice Louis Brandeis

“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” Samuel Johnson, meaning of course false patriotism

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