“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.
Robert Fisk: The shaming of America
Our writer delivers a searing dispatch after the WikiLeaks revelations that expose in detail the brutality of the war in Iraq – and the astonishing, disgraceful deceit of the US
As usual, the Arabs knew. They knew all about the mass torture, the promiscuous shooting of civilians, the outrageous use of air power against family homes, the vicious American and British mercenaries, the cemeteries of the innocent dead. All of Iraq knew. Because they were the victims.
Only we could pretend we did not know. Only we in the West could counter every claim, every allegation against the Americans or British with some worthy general – the ghastly US military spokesman Mark Kimmitt and the awful chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Peter Pace, come to mind – to ring-fence us with lies. Find a man who’d been tortured and you’d be told it was terrorist propaganda; discover a house full of children killed by an American air strike and that, too, would be terrorist propaganda, or “collateral damage”, or a simple phrase: “We have nothing on that.”
Of course, we all knew they always did have something. And yesterday’s ocean of military memos proves it yet again. Al-Jazeera has gone to extraordinary lengths to track down the actual Iraqi families whose men and women are recorded as being wasted at US checkpoints – I’ve identified one because I reported it in 2004, the bullet-smashed car, the two dead journalists, even the name of the local US captain – and it was The Independent on Sunday that first alerted the world to the hordes of indisciplined gunmen being flown to Baghdad to protect diplomats and generals. These mercenaries, who murdered their way around the cities of Iraq, abused me when I told them I was writing about them way back in 2003.
Glenn Greenwald: The Nixonian henchmen of today: at the NYT
After Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers, exposing the lies, brutality and inhumanity that drove America’s role in the Vietnam War, President Nixon and Henry Kissinger infamously plotted to smear his reputation and destroy his credibility. . . .
This weekend, WikiLeaks released over 400,000 classified documents of the Iraq War detailing genuinely horrific facts about massive civilian death, U.S. complicity in widespread Iraqi torture, systematic government deceit over body counts, and the slaughter of civilians by American forces about which Daniel Ellsberg himself said, as the New York Times put it: “many of the civilian deaths there could be counted as murder.”
Predictably, just as happened with Ellsberg, there is now a major, coordinated effort underway to smear WikiLeaks’ founder, Julian Assange, and to malign his mental health — all as a means of distracting attention away from these highly disturbing revelations and to impede the ability of WikiLeaks to further expose government secrets and wrongdoing with its leaks. But now, the smear campaign is led not by Executive Branch officials, but by members of the establishment media. As the intelligence community reporter Tim Shorrock wrote today on Twitter: “When Dan Ellsberg leaked [the] Pentagon Papers, Nixon’s henchmen tried to destroy his reputation. Today w/Wikileaks & Assange, media does the job.”
Guardian UK: The Observer: ‘A Moral Catastrophe’: The Final Reasons for Going to War are Being Swept Away
The allegations of allied complicity in torture point to a complete moral failure
There was no single reason why Britain and the US went to war in Iraq. The motives that inspired George W Bush and Tony Blair have been variously dissected, analysed and psychoanalysed. It is too early for history to have formed a settled view on the war, but the case that it was a monumental error gets ever more compelling.
Most of the official justifications for war, on grounds of security from terror and weapons of mass destruction, have been discredited. The only element of moral authority left in the decision might be that Saddam Hussein ran a murderous regime, characterised by torture and extra-judicial killing. It could indeed have been the duty of western powers to intervene against such atrocity. But the western occupiers quickly became complicit in atrocities of their own, as new leaked military documents reveal.