A week ago I commented on a report from the UN’s chief anti-torture expert Manfred Nowak who said that torture in Iraq is now worse than it was under Saddam Hussein. In the same piece I also included an article which reported that mass executions have returned to Iraq.
It looks like these are not the only examples of the re-Saddamification of Iraq. The New York Times is reporting that journalists are experiencing the same censorship they suffered under Saddam Hussein’s regime. This is on top of the risks of getting killed or kidnapped that they face on a daily basis.
Under a broad new set of laws criminalizing speech that ridicules the government or its officials, some resurrected verbatim from Saddam Hussein’s penal code, roughly a dozen Iraqi journalists have been charged with offending public officials in the past year.
Currently, three journalists for a small newspaper in southeastern Iraq are being tried here for articles last year that accused a provincial governor, local judges and police officials of corruption. The journalists are accused of violating Paragraph 226 of the penal code, which makes anyone who “publicly insults” the government or public officials subject to up to seven years in prison.
So, remind me again, why did America and Britain invade Iraq? It wasn’t for WMD, or Saddam’s links to terrorism or to make the world any safer. Obviously it had nothing to do with installing a more benevolent government, and only a cynic would dare to mention that it had anything to do with oil… Oops!
Bush and Blair are still trying to portray the Iraq misadventure as a stunning success in the face of overwhelming evidence that shows this stance to be plainly ridiculous. The majority of Iraqi people want the occupation to end, senior British military officers are saying we should pull out. More reports from American and British intelligence are saying that the occupation of Iraq is increasing terrorism rather than defeating it. And yet Bush and Blair steadfastly refuse to acknowledge the evidence under their noses and the demands of the people they are supposed to answer to. They stubbornly cling to their delusions and pretend that this inflexibility is some kind of virtue rather than the crass stupidity it really is.
Now we find that Bush has been lying about the true extent of the violence against the coalition in Iraq.
The Bush administration has misled the American people about the level of violence in Iraq, where there is an attack by insurgent forces every 15 minutes, Bob Woodward, the investigative journalist, said yesterday.
In a new book, State of Denial, Woodward argues that the White House disregarded warnings from advisers in the autumn of 2003 that it needed thousands more troops to put down the insurgency. He says the administration continues to deny the gravity of the situation in Iraq because of Mr Bush’s conviction that it was right to go to war.
“It’s getting to the point now where there are 800-900 attacks a week. That’s more than a hundred a day. That is four an hour attacking our forces,” Woodward told CBS television in an interview to be aired tomorrow night.
Blair, in his speech to the Labour Party Conference, told us that by pulling out of Iraq “we will be committing a craven act of surrender that will put our future security in the deepest peril.” Bush spouts similar rubbish all the time. However the longer we stay in this quagmire, the stronger the enemy actually gets. Bush an Blair’s refusal to face reality gives strength to people like Ayman al-Zawahiri, who can now say with some justification:
“Bush, oh failure and liar, why can’t you be courageous for once and confront your people and tell them the truth about your losses in Iraq and Afghanistan?
“Why don’t you tell them how many million of citizens of America and its allies you intend to kill in search of the imaginary victory and in breathless pursuit of the mirage towards which you are driving your people’s sons in order to increase your profits?”
Giving such an obvious propaganda victory to the likes of Ayman al-Zawahiri is no way to win this so called ‘War on Terror’. It would be far better, surely, to listen to the experts and leave. Conventional wisdom says that when you are in a hole, stop digging. That’s not ‘cut and run’, it’s common sense.