In a recent column, "The
Stench of American Hypocrisy,"
I noted that US public officials and media are on
their high horse about the rule of law in Burma while the rule of law
collapses unremarked in the US. Americans enjoy beating up other peoples
for American sins. Indeed, hypocrisy has become the defining characteristic of
the United States.
Hypocrisy in America is
now so commonplace it is no longer noticed. Consider the pro-football star Michael
Vick. In a recent game, Vick scored six touchdowns, totally dominating the playing
field. His performance brought new heights of adulation, causing National Public
Radio to wonder if the sports public shouldn't retain a tougher attitude toward
a dog torturer who spent 1.5 years in prison for holding dog
I certainly do not approve
of mistreating animals. But where is the outrage over the US government's
torture of people? How can the government put a person in jail for torturing
dogs but turn a blind eye to members of the government who tortured
Under both US and
international law, torture of humans is a crime, but the federal judiciary turns
a blind eye and even allows false confessions extracted by torture to be used in
courts or military tribunals to send tortured people to more years in prison
based on nothing but their coerced self-incrimination.
Compare Vick's treatment
of dogs with, for example, the US government's treatment of Canadian "child
soldier" Omar Khadr. Khadr was 15 when he was captured in Afghanistan in 2002,
the only survivor of a firefight and an air strike on a Taliban position. He was
near death, with wounds to his eyes and shoulder and shot twice in the back. The
Americans accused the boy of having thrown a hand grenade during the military
encounter that resulted in the death of a US soldier.
As there was no witness to
support the accusation, Khadr was tortured into submission. He was beaten,
deprived of sleep, left hanging with his arms chained above his head, hooded
and threatened by dogs. The National Post of Canada (Nov. 6, 2010) reports: "His
chief interrogator at Bagram admitted to telling the teenage boy that unless he
co-operated, he would be sent to a U.S. prison, where a group of black men would
gang-rape him to death."
Despite this and other
evidence that Khadr was coerced by torture into agreeing that he killed a U.S.
soldier during a military firefight that left Khadr all but dead, U.S. military
judge Col. Patrick Parrish ruled that Khadr's "confession" had been freely given
and could be used to convict him in court.
The charge against Khadr
is an invention. We don't know whether Khadr was a combatant or just happened to
be in the place where the American attack took place. Khadr is accused of
"murder in violation of the laws of war." Such a crime does not exist. Soldiers
who are enemy combatants are not tried for killing one another. As the Americans
had pulled Khadr's "crime" out of a hat, they definitely needed a guilty plea.
Shortly before the "trial," the Americans told Khadr that if he did not plead
guilty and escaped conviction, they would hold him indefinitely in a torture
prison as an enemy combatant.
This is the behavior of
Nazi Germany. When German courts freed Nazi victims from false charges, the
Gestapo simply picked up the cleared defendants when they left the court house
and sent them to camps or prisons.
At the last minute new
charges appeared out of thin air in order to beef up the nonexistent case
against Khadr. He was forced to admit to killing two Afghan soldiers and to
sign away his right to sue his jailers for torturing him. In court, Col. Parrish
repeatedly emphasized that Khadr admitted his guilt freely of his own accord. In
other words, Parrish lied in court by presenting a coerced confession as
"willingly given." This is typical of US prosecutors.
In a powerful editorial,
"Stalin Would Have Been Proud," the National Post
of Canada said:
"what it really was, was a show trial. . .They could have told him to confess
that he had simultaneously piloted all four hijacked planes on 9/11, and he
would have done it."
Post goes on to say that Stalin's torture techniques, which "inspired
the standard operating procedures at Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Guantanamo and the
secret black sites, were not designed to elicit truth. They were designed to
produce false confessions."
The Americans need false
confessions in order to maintain fear of terrorists among the deceived
population and in order to cover up the US government's crimes of
If a case can be worse, it
is the case of the young American educated neuroscientist, Dr. Aafia
Siddiqui. Read Yvonne Ridley's account
Siddiqui and her three
young children were kidnapped. Siddiqui was tortured and abused by the Americans
and their Pakistani puppets simply because Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, according to
Wikipedia, her second husband's uncle mentioned her name during one of the 180
times that he was waterboarded. Reminds me of reports by Soviet dissidents that
when they were being tortured by the KGB, they tried to remember names on
gravestones to give to the authorities, and when they couldn't they gave
whatever names popped into their memories.
Siddiqui's young children
apparently are still missing. While she was in detention, Siddiqui herself was
shot in the stomach by an American soldier, allegedly after she managed to seize
his rifle and point it at him. This absurd story was enough for federal judge
Richard Berman to sentence her to prison for 86 years for assault with a deadly
weapon and attempting to kill U.S.personnel. Obviously, Berman knows where his
bread is buttered, and it is not by justice.
We imprisoned Michael
Vick, because he tortured dogs. But Department of Justice (DOJ) officials John
Yoo and Jay Bybee, in close collaboration with the George W. Bush White House
and VP Dick Cheney's office, fabricated the argument that US and international
laws against torture do not apply to the US president.
Yoo and Bybee were found
by the DOJ's Office of Professional Responsibility to have violated professional
standards. However, DOJ official David Margolis reduced the charges to
"exercised poor judgment." This despite the fact that Yoo actually asserted to
an Office of Professional Responsibility investigator that Bush's powers as
provided Bush with the authority to unilaterally order,
without recourse to law, the mass murder of civilians.
Vick didn't get off with
"exercised poor judgment." In US "justice," torturing dogs is a worse crime than
In the US, if you torture
a dog you go to prison, but if you are a member of the government you can give a
green light to torture, and your reward will be to be appointed professor of law
at the "liberal" University of California, Berkeley (Yoo) and to the federal
With so many executive
branch known criminals running around at large, what did the lobbyists'
representatives, aka the US Congress, do? They excoriated Charles Rangel, the
black US Representative from Harlem.
What had Rangel done? Had
he indulged in even more heinous acts of torture, rape, and murder than the
executive branch officials? No. Rangel helped a school raise money, and because the
school was going to name itself after him, Rangel "benefitted personally" from
using the power of his office to help the school raise money. Rangel also
committed another grave crime. He used a New York apartment, which was
designated for residential use only, as a campaign office. Rangel also failed to
pay income tax on rent from a condo in the Dominican Republic, most likely an
insignificant sum of which an 80-year old man run off his feet by his demanding
job might not have been aware.
Because of these "serious
crimes," the House Rules Committee concluded that Rangel brought discredit upon
the House of Representatives.
I mean, really, how many
things can you think of that are of less consequence than Rangel's
transgressions? We have a Congress that is bought and paid for by lobbyists,
whose every vote is lobbyist determined by campaign contributions that
financially benefit the Representatives and Senators. But Rangel is guilty
because he helped a school raise money?
We have a Congress that
has forfeited its power to declare war and sits complicit while the president
not only usurps its power but uses illegitimate power to commit war crimes by
launching naked aggressions on the basis of lies and
We have a Congress that
turns a blind eye to criminal actions by the president, vice president, and
executive branch, including violations of US statutory law against torture,
violations of US statutory law against spying on Americans without warrants, and
violations of every legal protection in the Bill of Rights, from the right of
privacy to habeas corpus.
The hallmarks of the
remade US legal system, thanks to the "war on terror," are coerced
self-incrimination and indefinite detention or murder without charges or
evidence. "Freedom and democracy" America has resurrected the legal system of the
But Rangel, who helped a
school, is stripped of his Ways and Means chairmanship and censored by the
bought-and-paid-for-Congress. One has the impression that Rangel must have done
something far more serious, such as criticize the illegal wars or the banksters'
rip-off of American taxpayers. Or do we simply have a case of white people
ganging up on a black?
With the criminal
mega-rich banksters, thanks to their agents ensconced in the US Treasury,
regulatory agencies, and the Federal Reserve, free of regulatory oversight, upon
whose head does regulation fall? It falls on 13-year olds who sell cupcakes in
In Westchester County, New
York, New Castle Councilman Michael Wolfensohn called the police on 13-year olds
Andrew DeMarchis and Kevin Graff for selling cupcakes, cookies, brownies and
Rice Krispie treats in a Chappaqua park. The kids were guilty of being vendors
on town property without a license.
The kids were making about
$100 a day and had capitalist dreams of starting a business. But regulation
stopped them cold.
A license costs between $150 and $350 for a scant two hours,
and a $1million insurance certificate is also required. So banksters, who were able to purchase with campaign
contributions, and who knows how much in
under-the-table-payoffs, the repeal of the depression-era banking regulations
and then some, are scot free after having robbed taxpayers of bailout funds and
their pension retirements. But the cupcake business of two 13-year olds is
What does it say about a
population of 300 million that fails to see the hypocrisy in
this? Has a more insouciant population ever existed?