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Gitmo in Iraq?

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Message Jayne Stahl
At a time when there is widespread agreement, even among the president's men, to shut down the pernicious detention camp at the southeast end of Cuba at Guantanamo Bay, an accord is in the works by Bush & Co. to do in Iraq what the Platt Amendment did in Cuba a century ago at the close of the Spanish-American War.

It is, you'll recall, largely thanks to the Platt Amendment that the U.S. was given entitlement to send troops to Cuba, meddle in that country's internal affairs, and establish a permanent U.S. protectorate, and naval base, at Gitmo.

Reportedly, the U.S. is exploring the prospect of an agreement with the Iraqi government for "establishment of a legal basis for U.S. military operations in Iraq," (Bloomberg News) and the very real possibility that, a hundred years from now, we may witness yet another Gitmo, only this time within shooting range of Baghdad. And, it is also reported that this plan will have built in protection for any service members who face misconduct charges for their treatment of prisoners down the road. So, as a bonus legacy, the president is setting in motion an Abu Ghraib clone, and one that also bears the Good Housekeeping stamp of approval.

These preliminary discussions of a longterm relationship between the U.S. and Iraq focus on making the connection between the countries president-proof, and permanent, not unlike our presence in Cuba. Just last week, in a campaign ad, Hillary Clinton alluded to the president's objective of ensuring indefinite occupation of that country.

If Mrs. Clinton secures the nomination, and wins the election, in November, she must be reminded of her vehement campaign objections to this plan. She must not be allowed the same wiggle room she got with respect to her position on health care. Moreover, all presidential candidates must be reminded that any such agreement must be submitted to Congress for its approval as, while Congress voted to authorize funding for the war, it never approved a resolution to go to war in the first place. It is egregious, and unacceptable, for our tax dollars to be held hostage by this president and his perennial war games.

While Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is skeptical that an accord between Washington and Baghdad will lead to permanent military bases, the odds are good that any agreement that allows for the right to hold prisoners in Iraq will result in the presence of at least one base, such as the one established in southern Cuba, in 1898, that granted the U.S. permission for an indefinite foothold in the region.

But, even more ominously, this proposed agreement, as Bloomberg reports, provides for the guarantee of protection from future prosecution, on war crimes charges, for U.S. troops, as well as executives, thus promising to legitimize not only the dubious relationship between the two countries, but the quick spread, and contagion, of immunity. In this important respect, this prospective accord may be seen as a sibling of the Military Commissions Act.

If, as insiders in the administration contend, their underlying purpose is to "protect Iraq from external and internal threats to its security" by establishing yet another U.S. protectorate, the Iraqis must ask themselves who it is, principally, they require protection from, who poses the gravest threat to their security and, indeed, as another presidential campaign asked -- are they better off today than they were seven years ago before the U.S. invaded and occupied their country?

If the voice of the people of Iraq in response to this question may be heard, uncensored and unadulterated by their puppet leaders and the mainstream American media, then they may never have to worry about a naval base, like Gitmo, in Baghdad, and neither will we.
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Widely published, poet, playwright, essayist, and screenwriter; member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA. Jayne Lyn Stahl is a Huffington Post blogger.
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