"Even for those who believe they're inured to the absurdities of imperial irony
, this is almost too extreme to process:The New York Times
, Wednesday, September 8, 2010:
A federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled that former prisoners of the C.I.A. could not sue over their alleged torture in overseas prisons because such a lawsuit might expose secret government information. . . .
"To this date, not a single victim of the Bush administration’s torture program has had his day in court," [the ACLU's Ben] Wizner said. . . . "If this decision stands, the United States will have closed its courts to torture victims while providing complete immunity to their torturers
. (emphasis added)"Yahoo! News
, yesterday, September 10, 2010:Iraq to pay $400 million for Saddam's mistreatment of Americans.
Iraq has quietly agreed to pay $400 million in claims to American citizens who say they were tortured or traumatized by Saddam Hussein’s regime after his 1990 invasion of Kuwait
. (emphasis added).
The controversial settlement ends years of legal battles and could help Iraq emerge from United Nations sanctions put in place two decades ago -- a step Iraqi leaders see as a prerequisite to becoming fully sovereign. . . . Settling the claims, which were brought by American citizens, has been seen as a key requirement for Washington to be willing to push for an end to the UN sanctions. . . .
Despite Iraq’s potential oil wealth, the country has major economic problems, including widespread poverty, 30 percent unemployment, and an infant mortality rate among the highest in the region. . . .
The settlement is controversial not only because of Iraq's pressing developmental needs, but because it holds the current government accountable for Saddam Hussein’s actions.
“A lot of blood has flowed since then and a lot of it is Iraqi blood. It’s arguable that the suffering was not caused by the current Iraqi government or the Iraqi people,” says one senior Iraqi official. “This is politics, this is not justice.”
So, to recap: the U.S. creates a worldwide regime of torture, disappearances and lawless imprisonment. Then, the Bush administration, the Obama administration, and the American federal judiciary all collaborate to shield the guilty parties from all accountability (Look Forward, Not Backward!), and worse, to ensure that not a single victim can even access American courts to obtain a ruling as to the legality of what was done to them, let alone receive compensation for their suffering
, even while recognizing that many of the victims were completely innocent and even though other countries have provided the victims with compensation
for their much more minor role in what happened. Our courts even ensure that Blackwater guards are shielded from prosecution for the cold-blooded murder of Iraqi citizens.
But we invade, occupy and destroy Iraq -- while severely abusing, torturing and killing their citizens -- and then demand, as a condition for our allowing the end of crippling sanctions, that they fork over hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation to American torture victims, even though it all happened 20 years ago, under an Iraqi regime that no longer even exists. They hate us for our Freedoms
. (emphasis added)America the Exceptional
, September 11, 2010