Sunday, April 22, 2007

We killed people back, and that’s the story


Hillary Clinton says that when she’s president, Bill will be a roaming ambassador. I’ll bet he will, I’ll bet he will.

What, too obvious? Then we’ll just skip “Nigerian Elections Marred by Fraud.” (Except to note that the governor of Bayelsa State, a vice presidential candidate, is named Goodluck Jonathan. Not surprisingly, he just escaped an assassination attempt.) (Let me rephrase that: Jonathan is the next vice president; to call him a candidate implies that there is a possibility of the ruling party failing to “win” the elections.)

The WaPo reports that when Gen. Petraeus, M.M., gets depressed, he likes to go out in a helicopter searching for signs of progress down below. “‘He’s actually watering the grass!’ Petraeus said with a laugh, peering down at a man tending a soccer field, with children playing nearby. ... Directing the pilot to ‘break left’ or ‘roll out,’ he scanned the landscape for even tiny improvements -- a pile of picked-up trash, an Iraqi police car out on patrol, a short line at one gas station -- as if gathering mental ammunition for the next wave of Baghdad carnage. An amusement park, its rides lit up, merited a full circle.” Says Petraeus of these taxpayer-funded jaunts, “You see some police stations and you see people just sort of driving on, people getting on with their lives, and it sort of reassures you. ‘Hey, these people are survivors.’”

In an article on the leaked report on the Haditha massacre, from which there were no survivors, the NYT quotes spokesmodel Capt. Jeffrey Pool defending his decision to claim that the Iraqi civilians were killed by a roadside bomb despite knowing from the start that that was a lie (months later he tried to dissuade Time magazine from reporting on the incident, calling stories of a massacre Al Qaida propaganda): “The way I saw it was this: A bomb blast went off, or was initiated, that is what started, that is the reason they’re getting this, is a bomb blew up, killed people. We killed people back, and that’s the story.” The NYT notes that Pool has been promoted and is in charge of PR for Anbar province (and indeed, there he is in another story , informing us that the assassination of the fourth straight chair of the Fallujah City Council was “designed to cause fear and to intimidate the populace to cow them into submission.” He was for causing fear and intimidating the populace to cow them into submission before he was against it.

Speaking of causing fear and intimidating etcetera, a WaPo article about American military operations in Diyala tells of a 3 a.m. raid on a house, “expecting to find a half-dozen al-Qaeda in Iraq members in a meeting.”
Instead they found a crying mother and her terrified 13-year-old boy.

“Tell him, since he’s the oldest one in the house, he’s the man of the house, he needs to man-up and stop hiding behind his mother,” 1st Lt. Christopher Nogle, 23, of Orlando, instructed his interpreter.

The boy covered his face and sobbed. It was 3 in the morning. He said he didn’t know where his father had gone.

“Does he love his father?” Nogle asked. “Does he want to see him again?”

The small barefoot boy shook with fear and said nothing.

“Ask him where his father hides his weapons,” Nogle demanded.

“I swear to God I don’t know,” the boy said.

“He is not a man, he is scared,” said his mother, who was also wailing.

“He needs to quit crying. He’s responsible for everybody in here right now since his father left; his father abandoned everybody else,” Nogle told the boy through his interpreter. “Tell him when his father comes back later tonight or tomorrow that he needs to have a talk with his father, that his father is doing very bad things and it’s getting the whole family in trouble.”

Before the soldiers left, an Iraqi police officer brandished two large buck knives in front of the boy’s face. Nobody was arrested.

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