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A Tale of Two Generals
By Eli Stephens
Left I on the News
There are still a remarkable number of people who maintain illusions in Gen.
Colin Powell, and believe he was really a "good guy" who tried his best to
moderate the evil nature of the Bush administration but failed. As part of
that, they actually give credence to Powell's recent "mea a little bit
culpa" speech in which Powell asserted that his February, 2003 speech to the
U.N. was now "painful" for him and a permanent "blot" on his record. Of
course he hid behind the claim of having "been misled about the accuracy of
the intelligence on which he relied" and didn't take any actual
responsibility for what he said. This despite the fact that reports at the
time (June, 2003) had Powell saying "I'm not reading this. This is
bullshit," and removing "dozens of pages" of allged evidence.
Supporters of Powell like to claim that Powell was just being a "good
soldier," but, with apologies to German readers, the proper colloquial term
for Powell's behavior is that of a "good German." A "good soldier" not only
doesn't have to obey illegal orders, it is is obligation to disobey them.
>From Powell's role in covering up the My Lai massacre, to his speech at the
U.N. which even he recognized was filled with "bullshit," Powell has acted
to promote illegal actions; in the latter case, he played a key role in
moving American "establishment" opinion to support the illegal invasion of
Iraq, and the subsequent deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqis and
Americans. Of particular interest are statements like these which Powell
made in his U.N. presentation:
"My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid
sources. These are not assertions. What we're giving you are facts and
conclusions based on solid intelligence."
Such a statement takes on even more significance given today's revelation
that reports as early as February, 2002 had indicated that key portions of
the "intelligence" presented by Powell were sourced to a "likely
Colin Powell is a free man and not only welcomed, but honored by "polite
society." A war crimes trial for his role in selling an illegal war doesn't
seem to be on the horizon. Meanwhile, another General, Iraqi Gen. Amer
al-Saadi, sits in solitary confinement in a prison in Iraq, where he has
been for the last 2 1/2 years. As with most prisoners held by the Americans,
he has neither been convicted, tried, or even charged with any crime. Gen.
al-Saadi, you'll remember, was the Iraqi liason to the weapons inspectors,
the voice of Iraq when Iraq denied having any weapons of mass destruction or
WMD programs. And just what was Gen. al-Saadi's crime? For all intents and
purposes, it was speaking the truth to Powell's lies:
"'I have always told the truth about these old programs,' Saddam Hussein's
top scientific adviser said in an interview with German TV last April
. 'The future will show it.' After surrendering to U.S. forces on
April 12 , al-Saadi was jailed, interrogated by the CIA and declared a
prisoner of war. But his line on WMD never changed, and now -- following
declarations by former weapons inspector David Kay -- it seems that al-Saadi
was indeed telling the truth. 'I'm still vegetating in solitude,' [i.e.,
solitary confinement] al-Saadi wrote to his wife last month [January, 2004].
'[I feel] degraded.'
And although there was talk this June about the possibility of freeing
al-Saadi (and other Iraqi scientists), it appears it was just talk. Although
the 2004 election has come and gone, and the Duelfer report has long since
proven that al-Saadi was telling the truth to the world, his freedom, and
ability to speak would still be an embarassment to the U.S., and that
outweighs a man's right to freedom in this "might makes right" world.
The intimate connection between Powell and al-Saadi is part of why al-Saadi
is still being imprisoned and silenced. In his U.N. speech, Powell said:
"It was Gen. Saadi who last fall publicly pledged that Iraq was prepared to
cooperate unconditionally with inspectors. Quite the contrary, Saadi's job
is not to cooperate, it is to deceive; not to disarm, but to undermine the
inspectors; not to support them, but to frustrate them and to make sure they
Al-Saadi shot back at Powell's slander:
"Al-Saadi described the report as 'unworthy of a superpower,' and singled
out Powell's charges point by point as being fabrications.
"In particular, he derided Powell's assertions that Iraq attempts to hide
secret information by keeping it moving in vehicles driven around the
"'All of that is fiction,' he said. 'It is simply not true.'
"Saadi described Powell's approach as a 'a deliberate attempt to undermine
the credibility and professionalism of the inspection bodies . by making
allegations which directly contradict their assessments or cast doubt on
History has proven that every word al-Saadi spoke was true, and every
accusation made by Colin Powell ("We know that Iraq has at lest seven of
these mobile biological agent factories...There can be no doubt that Saddam
Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more,
many more...Saddam Hussein has chemical weapons.") was false. And still
Al-Saadi rots in prison. At least we think so. As a reflection of both the
way the U.S. government conceals information about the people it is holding,
and the lack of curiousity on the part of the media, it's interesting to
consider what we know about the status of al-Saadi's imprisonment. Newsweek
actually ran a story in June with a picture captioned "Was el-Saadi [sic]
released?", and reported that "Former U.N. inspector David Albright said
he'd recently heard credible reports that al-Saadi...might have been freed
from custody," while in this exchange which took place in the British House
of Parliament in February, it is asserted rather specifically that Dr.
Al-Saadi "was released by the US on 18 January 2005." Yet the Newsweek
article also reports that a "State Department official...denied al-Saadi had
been freed from custody," while in July, 2005 (i.e., well after January),
Dr. Rod Barton, an Australian scientist who was a key deputy to Dr. Charles
Duelfer, made a strong plea for the release of Dr. al-Saadi, which would
certainly indicate that someone in a position to know still believed him to
be held. Given all this, and the fact that if Gen. al-Saadi had been
released, chances are we would have heard about it (and heard from him),
Left I on the News considers it virutally certain that Dr. Amer al-Saadi is
still being held prisoner by the Americans.
Back in 2004, here's what then chief weapons inspector David Kay had to say:
"As a prisoner of war, al-Saadi can be held without charges until the
Coalition declares an end to hostilities. Kay suggests that the Pentagon
will ultimately relinquish al-Saadi and other scientists to Iraqi
authorities, who may decide to indict them for crimes against humanity."
This, of course, begs the question of "what war" we are talking about.
Regardless of the linguistic fiction of the "war on terror," Gen. al-Saadi
was an officer in the Iraqi army, and if the U.S. declared him a prisoner of
war, it was the war of aggression launched by the United States, i.e., the
invasion of Iraq. And, while fighting continues (obviously) in Iraq, that
war succeeded in topplng the existing Iraqi government and replacing it with
a new government, which has now officially been granted "sovereignty" by the
United States and the United Nations, and the United States is no longer at
war with the Iraqi government, i.e., those hostilities have ceased. American
troops are currently in Iraq at the fictional "invitation" of the Iraqi
government, helping to stabilize the country against internal opposition.
The Americans clearly have no right whatsoever (not that they ever did) to
continue to hold Gen. al-Saadi. But in prison (and, presumably, in solitary
confinement) he remains, his voice silenced while the lying Gen. Colin
Powell walks free.