Sunday, 1 December 2013

What the CIA-NSA snooper state left behind in Iraq

Here’s yesterday’s news from Iraq tucked away on page A6 of the Saturday Times (Headline: ’18 are found shot to death after abduction in Baghdad’.)

*Eighteen people were seized by ‘armed men in sport utility vehicles and dressed in military uniforms’ who went from door to door pulling out specific individuals (all Sunnis). They were found shot and the bodies dumped on a farm. In plain English: death squads operate with impunity, probably at the direction of the central government authority. However, among the dead were an army officer and a policeman, so there appear to be more than one death squad operating at the whim of different factions among the powerful.

*Seven laborers were found decapitated near Tikrit north of Baghdad.

*Five people were killed by a roadside bomb in Radhwaniya.

*In a Shiite area of Baghdad, three men’s bodies were found showing signs of torture.

*Six women living in a house together were found assassinated by weapons with silencers.

*29 other people were killed, as the Times tersely puts it, ‘in shopping areas’. We can assume this means the usual pattern of bomb attacks in food markets that are so routine now that reporters barely need to describe them.

And that’s just one day in the life of the average Iraqi.

Let’s keep this in mind when debates about whether Edward Snowden and The Guardian are damaging ‘national security’ by letting us know about the snooping powers of the state. This is the same state that systematically lied to us about Iraq after 9/11 to falsely blame the Iraqi people for it, that persecuted domestic dissidents (like Michigan State professor Juan Cole) for daring to oppose the war plans, that sent off crusading knights to seize control of that country, that substituted Biblical exegesis for common sense and planning in doing so thereby setting off an appalling spiral of violence that utterly destroyed a society already devastated by decades of terrifying dictatorship, that showed indifference and contempt for the safety of the residents of its conquered territory and that eventually withdrew in defeat but is now too embarrassed by that failure to remind itself of the horrific, ongoing destruction that it wrought on innocent civilians.

So yes, governments theoretically have the right to keep secrets and to maintain an intelligence apparatus. But they have to earn it.

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