As I was reading an article in Sunday’s Washington Post about the alleged rape and torture of a Ukrainian woman at the hands of Russian troops, I couldn’t help but think about four things: (1) Abu Ghraib; (2) Gitmo; (3) the CIA; and (4) Chile.
Yes, I fully understand that the purpose of the Post’s article was to get me to focus on the evil Russians. But it actually had the opposite effect. My mind instead shifted to the evil rot that exists within the U.S. government, more specifically, within the national-security branch of the government.
No one should be surprised when authoritarian or totalitarian regimes commit evil acts. But when those evil acts are being committed by the U.S. government, it becomes time for the American people to take notice and to do something about it. Focusing on the evil acts of foreign regimes oftentimes serves as a way to avoid identifying and confronting the evil within one’s own government.
(1) Abu Ghraib was a prison camp that was used by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to enforce his brutal tyranny over the Iraqi people. He was a partner and ally of the U.S. government during the 1980s, when U.S. officials assisted him to kill Iranians in his war of aggression against that country.
In 2003, the Pentagon invaded Iraq. The invasion was no different in principle from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, only that Russia’s invasion was provoked by NATO expansion while the U.S. invasion was an unprovoked war of aggression. During that war, U.S. officials killed and injured untold numbers of Iraqis and wreaked massive death and destruction across the country,
The Pentagon took control over Abu Ghraib and turned it into a torture and sex-abuse prison. Iraqis were forced into the prison, where they were subjected to unspeakable horrors. At least one Iraqi prisoner was killed inside Abu Ghraib by U.S. officials.
It’s important to keep in mind that neither the Iraqi government nor the Iraqi people had ever attacked the United States. Every Iraqi that was killed or injured during the war or tortured or abused at Abu Ghraib was innocent in that sense.
(2) After the 9/11 attacks, the Pentagon and the CIA established their torture and prison camp at their base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Their aim was to establish a Constitution-free zone where they could torture suspected terrorists to their heart’s content. Even though they had taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution, they didn’t want to have to deal with constitutional constraints at Gitmo. They just wanted to torture and kill suspected terrorists without having to comply with any constitutional “technicalities.”
(3) When word began spreading that the Pentagon and the CIA were torturing people, U.S. officials and their supporters reacted with anger and indignation, claiming that U.S. forces would never do such a thing. Only evil regimes, they claimed, tortured people.
As time went on, however, it became increasingly clear that U.S. officials were lying. In fact, U.S. officials were actively involved with torturing people.
When it was discovered that the CIA had made and retained videotapes of its torture sessions, no doubt for later torture training sessions or perhaps just for viewing pleasure, the CIA knowingly, intentionally, and deliberately destroyed the tapes. The purpose of the destruction was to prevent Congress from viewing the evidence. No one was ever charged with obstruction of justice, obstruction of Congress, or any other crime. The CIA is much too powerful for that.
(4) From 1970-1973, U.S. officials paved the way for a military coup in Chile because they didn’t like the man that the Chilean people had elected to be their president. During the coup, the elected president, Salvador Allende was ousted from the presidency and left dead. A brutal right-wing military general named Augusto Pinochet replaced him.
With the full support of the CIA and the Pentagon and other U.S. officials, Pinochet’s goons rounded up around 60,000 innocent people — that is, people who had voted for or supported Allende. The goons raped many of the women and brutally tortured tens of thousands of people. They executed or disappeared some 3,000 people.
Meanwhile, U.S. officials flooded Pinochet’s regime with millions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer money, which he was able to use to maintain his fearful reign of terror. Not surprisingly, Pentagon and CIA officials traveled freely around the country.
Sometimes the evil committed by foreign regimes can help shine a light on what has happened to our nation. It’s not surprising that Americans react with anger and outrage when Russia commits evil acts. The question of course is why Americans maintain a steadfast silence with respect to the evil acts committed by their own government.