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'Wimpy photos' testimony to war crimes

Former Voice of the Times Editor Paul Jenkins' article "Wimpy photos could make US look weak" is an outrageously dishonest propaganda piece. It constitutes graphic proof of Josef Goebbels' observation that if lies are repeated enough, people will believe them.

The "wimpy photos" to which Jenkins refers, and which our increasingly wimpy new president has, like his predecessor, chosen to sweep under the rug, aren't mere photos of naked men being forced to wear Victoria's Secret-style headgear.

Donald Rumsfeld himself -- the man who sold poisonous chemicals to Saddam without batting an eye -- testified before Congress on May 7, 2004, that they depict conduct, behavior, that is "so brutal and so cruel and so inhumane that anyone engaged in it or involved in it would have to be brought to justice."

After reviewing these photos, Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator from South Carolina, didn't equivocate: "We're talking rape and murder" -- on camera.

Those are the photos that Rumsfeld testified he would not release because they were "incendiary." And his fears were justified. Those images were among the evidence that moved Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, assigned to investigate the Abu Ghraib atrocities, to publicly declare that the Bush administration had committed war crimes.

Taguba's report before Congress to that effect cost him his military career. He apparently couldn't continue "being all that he could be" at the price of his conscience.

Were the pundits of our so-called "free press" as forthright as Gen. Taguba, I might ask Mr. Jenkins which "message" he thinks would place American military personnel in more jeopardy from occupied populations whose hearts and minds have yet to be "won" -- a message that makes us appear, in his words, "stupid and weak," or one that portrays us as unrepentant rapists and murderers?

Perhaps ironically, the late, unlamented Saddam al-Tikriti would have agreed with Jenkins' assessment -- after all, he justified his own crimes with excuses nearly identical to those Jenkins offers in defense of torture. And it was precisely such "rationale" that led the murderous Saddam to the gallows. One can only wonder why Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the rest of the "New American Century" criminal cartel have not been meted the same justice as Saddam for their atrocities against the Iraqi people.

Being a former "intelligence" officer, Mr. Jenkins is doubtless aware that Nuremburg (to say nothing of our own Uniform Code of Military Justice) long ago established that "I was just following orders" doesn't constitute a viable defense of wartime atrocity. Besides, it tends to implicate those of higher rank. And if President Obama covers up war crimes, he assumes the role of accessory after the fact.

Consider this statement from Gen. Taguba's report: "... there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account."

If Mr. Jenkins -- and Mr. Obama -- have their way, and they probably will, the answer to that question will be a resounding NO, and we can finally consign that woefully threadbare fiction that "America is a nation of laws" to the grave of despotic reality.

However, that won't be the end of the matter -- at least not for those who believe there is such a thing as Divine Justice. In that Final High Court in which I, and in which I'm told most Christians, believe, those who support a crime earn for themselves a share of the guilt. And that guilt will be laid bare in the Sight of a Judge before Whom there will be no plea bargains, no appeals, and from Whom there is no escape.

Al-Hajj Frederick Minshall lives in Anchorage. He is an honorably discharged U.S. Navy veteran who converted to Shi'a Islam 20 years ago. His extended family includes Iraqi Shi'a Muslims living in Baghdad and Najaf, Iraq.

By AL-HAJJ FREDERICK MINSHALL

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