A true patriot is one who loves, supports, defends, and is devoted to his country without superficial fanfare. I am a patriot, and I know that America stands for freedom, a word used quite liberally. The freedom we have in America comes from the Bill of Rights, the first Ten Amendments of the Constitution of the United States of America; and because we have these rights (freedoms) a person can burn the US flag in protest or criticize the use of US military forces to invade Iraq.
LOSING OUR FREEDOMS
After 9-11, Arabs and Muslims were targeted for FBI interrogations and public ridicule and discrimination because of the mood set by this administration. Some were incarcerated for minor visa violations. Almost all Arabs and Muslims were portrayed directly and inferentially by the media and by government officials as being terrorists. After the invasion of Afghanistan, the POWs from Afghanistan were going to be called something different than POWs just so this administration could hold, torture, and deny them the rights they were entitled to while under the jurisdiction of the US. The Supreme Court finally ruled that they could have legal counsel and challenge their detentions.
Bush senior and Bush junior had extensive lucrative business and personal contacts with the Saudis. When the FAA canceled air travel, the only people who received special treatment were the family of Osama bin Laden and some prominent Saudis who were rushed out of the US on chartered flights without even being interrogated. Neither Bush President pried into Saudi domestic issues, which could have affected the United States. Meanwhile, the rising tide of Muslim fundamentalism was feeding Al Qaeda and terrorism throughout the world.
Bush has also used 9-11 to trample on citizens rights by implementing the USA Patriot Act, which is a subterfuge to conduct searches based on mere suspicion without judicially authorized warrants and without even giving notices of the searches. Congress passed the Act with little or no review. The concept of privacy for the citizen is eroded. The definition of terrorism has also been broadened such that it could include legitimate protest, especially if any violence erupts.
The Bush administration is the most secretive of recent presidencies. Bush answers only friendly reporters, which helps to maintain the secrecy of his administration. An FBI translator told the public two years ago that intercepts relevant to 9-11 included references to skyscrapers and had been badly translated to English. Attorney General Ashcroft has ordered that the translators information be retroactively classified so the public cannot have access to the previously disclosed embarrassing information. Bush gives speeches at military locations because the troops cannot criticize the commander-in-chief. When he travels, the Secret Service coordinates with the local police and designates free speech zones which are blocks away from where he will be speaking.
After 9-11, which was a terrorist bombing conducted primarily by Saudi Arabian Islamic extremists, the United States attacked Afghanistan. Some of the 9-11 terrorists allegedly trained in Al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan; therefore, the US believed it had the right to attack a sovereign country in violation of international law and take prisoners of war and hold them without any rights in US custody forever. We diverted our attention from bin Laden and attacked Iraq. We had no justification to invade Iraq, and we have no justification to occupy Iraq.
We have been told that we are in Iraq to bring the Iraqi people democracy and that the US has returned sovereignty to Iraq. The US cannot force democracy on another group of people or country because, by definition, democracy comes from the people, themselves. Sovereignty means complete independence and self-governance, but the United States is the law in Iraq. There is no sovereignty for the Iraqi peoplejust a puppet government controlled by the US military. We have encouraged terrorism by our invasion.
The reason du jour for our being in Iraq is to give the Iraqi people democracy whether they want it or not. Before that, to get rid of Saddam Hussein because he was a bad guy. How will it look at Saddams trial if Stephen Pelletiere, the CIAs senior political analyst on Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war testifies that he was privy to much of the classified material regarding the gassing of the Kurds at Halabja, and his classified report on the issue showed that the Iranians, not the Iraqis, gassed the Kurds? I wonder, who has killed more Iraqi citizens, Saddam Hussein or George W. Bush? Remember Shock and Awe?
The media didnt show us the death and suffering of the shock and awe. We Americans get squeamish when we learn of an American getting his head cut off by the insurgents; but during shock and awe 500 and 1000 pound bombs and 2000 pound Cruise Missiles and J-Dam bombs came showering down on Iraqi mothers, daughters, aunts, uncles, sons, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, etc. who never attacked us. I wonder how many of them had their heads, arms, and legs severed from their torsos? We have dehumanized all Arabs and Muslims such that the loss of their lives or loved-ones or property is considered acceptable in our culture.
Before the US invasion of Iraq, the Bush Administration and the media falsely led seventy per cent of the American people to believe that Saddam Hussein and Iraqactually were involved in the 9-11 attacks. How could this happen in an informed republican form of government? Before that, Saddam allegedly had weapons of mass destruction and material to make a nuclear weapon, which were imminent threats to the United States. Now, the Senate Intelligence Committee has found that we invaded Iraq based on false intelligence.
ABU GHRAIB AND OTHER ACTS OF DISDAIN FOR INTERNATIONAL LAW
The preliminary evidence shows there were rapes, murders, assaults, and torture at Abu Ghraib and that high-ranking officers in the chain of command had knowledge of these war crimes. Congress has been passive in demanding full investigations of the incidents, and the media has spent more time on Saddam Hussein's initial appearance in court than on the Abu Ghraib investigation. The world now knows that in Iraq, which we invaded in violation of international law, we have mistreated prisoners in depraved ways.
Shortly after 9-11, Bush and his buddy, Prince Bandar (Saudi Arabian ambassador) AKA Bandar Bush, discussed what to do with any captured Al Qaeda detainees. Why would Bush discuss this issue with the ambassador of a country known for its ruthlessness with dissidents and criminals? Mr. Gonzales, Bush's personal lawyer, advised that the Geneva Conventions provisions were quaint and that Bush's authority might take priority over the Geneva Conventions. The Washington Post reported that Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez borrowed heavily from a list of high-pressure interrogation tactics used at the detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. There is evidence that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld authorized methods of interrogation contrary to the Geneva Conventions, and there is evidence that the Israelis may have been involved in the interrogation process at Abu Ghraib. No, it wasn't just some low-level soldiers who instigated the war crimes at Abu Gharieb; and Congress and the media have done a brilliant job of covering up these egregious acts. Because of strong opposition from other Security Council members, the US has recently dropped a resolution before the United Nations that would have exempted our soldiers from international prosecution. The International Criminal Court hears complaints against persons from a nation that is unable or unwilling to investigate potential war crimes.
Although Abu Ghraib has the potential to show that numerous war crimes were condoned at the highest levels, I think the greatest war crimes are the illegal invasion of Iraq by the United States and the conduct of the military operations the indiscriminate bombing, shelling, and killing of innocent women, children, and other non-combatants. The killing and destruction in Iraq as a result of the war is illegal under the law of war, the Geneva Conventions, international law, and the UN Charter, Article 51. Crimes against humanity, genocide, violations of the Geneva Conventions and the law of war, and violations of the laws relating to the International Criminal Court come to mind.
I voted for George W. Bush, and I was wrong to have done so. I am hoping a change will restore a respect for Americans rights at home and human rights abroad. I would like to see the international community prosecute those at the highest level who are guilty of war crimes to punish and discourage that conduct in the future. No! 9-11 did not change everything! We Americans have rights and freedoms, which must not be taken away from us by anyone including our government.
I saw this on a POW-MIA bumper sticker: For those who fought for it, freedom has a flavor the protected will never know. Im still fighting for my freedoms, how about you?
1. American Dynasty by Kevin Phillips, House of Bush, House of Saud by Craig Unger,
2. Worse Than Watergate by John W. Dean