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Scrubbing Abu Ghraib Away


by Mumia Abu-Jamal

If persistent news tips are correct, the U.S. Army's report on the barbarities at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison will lodge blame for the events there at the rank of colonel and below, and no real bigwigs or command staff officers will be tied to the vile events that took place in the American-controlled gulag.

If so, I'm tempted to say: "I told you so."

When the Abu Ghraib prison scandal broke, I wrote that the nation must prepare for an efficient, neat, tidy whitewash. The grunts would bear the brunt of any discipline, and the dudes at the top would emerge unscathed.

There it is.

When it first happened, I thought back to the scandals that rocked SCI-Greene several years ago, when a score of guards were charged with brutal, racist, and vile behavior against men in the hole. Roughly two dozen guards were fired, but after union appeals, most were quietly reinstated, after the media furor died down.

One day, while on the way to the yard, a young red-haired guard said, "It's all about protecting yer ass, that's all the white shirts care about _ know what I mean, Jamal?"

I actually didn't, and asked, "Whatchu mean, Reds?"

"You remember when they fired all of us a few years ago?"

I nodded.

He continued, "They left us out to dry, just hanging. Every damn thing we did ina Hole, we did `cause they told us to. They told us to `tune guys' up, to give 'em an `attitude adjustment', ya know what I mean?"

I nodded again.

"And then when the heat came down wham! _ they left us hangin'! I learned from that, `protect yer ass!'"

"Damn, Reds You was one of dem dudes in that stuff?"

"Yeah, Jamal I was out for months, doncha remember?"

I actually didn't know then, but his brief conversation came back to me, years later, when the events at Abu Ghraib made the news. Nor was I even remotely surprised when a former guard from SCI-Greene just happened to be at the forefront of the vile and violent assaults at Abu Ghraib. He just took what he learned here, over there.

It was a whitewash here; why not one there? The brass, the White House, and the Senate wanted a whitewash. They got it.

Why ask why?

Political power, which demanded and created the mess in Iraq, now commands a clean up.

We've all heard it all throughout our lives.

"A few bad apples.." "Just poor training..." "It's not a systemic problem ..."

The same lines. The same lies. The same soap used to cover up the stench of racist, brutal, vile, depraved treatment of people who are not white enough to matter.

To be sure, for millions, perhaps billions of people in Arab and Muslim lands overseas, it matters little what Army officers or "investigators" say. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.

The picture of naked, cowering men, some menaced by dogs (in some Muslim cultures, dogs are seen as unclean creatures), men smeared with human feces (oh excuse me, according to the polite, civilized American media, "a brown substance"), will not be washed away.

It doesn't matter if Americans use Tide(c), or the New York Times. Those images of humiliation are burned into the retinas of billions.

What is even more shocking is what has been hidden from the tender visions of Americans, the images of rape, of sexual domination, and perversity by American occupiers upon a defenseless people, upon women and children, but has reached the realm of cyberspace, and again, burned into the soul.

For the many people overseas, the whitewash of American officials is like the smearing of mud (or, "a brown substance") that further discredits the world's "bringer of democracy."

It fattens the swarm of jihadis everywhere, who see that American democracy is a sham.

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