Pantomime and Power in the Imperium
by Chris Floyd
On Thursday, with media attention focused on the gooberish plutocrat accepting the nomination of one faction of our single ruling party — the bipartisan Imperial Bloc — the leader of the other faction took the opportunity to bury a few more cases of state murder.
There could hardly be a better example of how the American system rolls in our enlightened, ultramodern 21st century: garish, empty pantomimes of politics coupled with the ruthless, lawless, brutal exercise of imperial power — with no accountability, no responsibility, no consequences for the crimes and depravities committed by the elites and their agents and sycophants.
We refer of course to this story in the New York Times:”No Charges Filed on Harsh Tactics Used by the C.I.A.” There is little need for further commentary on the story; it speaks for itself — including the headline, which illustrates, once again, the establishment media’s pathological refusal to name the systematic beating, freezing and murder of captives: torture. (Try to imagine what word the NYT would use if, say, the members of Pussy Riot had “died … after being shackled to a concrete wall in a near-freezing temperatures at a secret [Russian] prison.” Would they call that “harsh tactics”? Or if a Syrian prisoner “died in [state] custody in a [regime] prison…where his corpse was photographed packed in ice and wrapped in plastic.” Would they call that “harsh tactics”? Would that be referred to as “strenuous interrogation” by the New York Times?)
But I digress. To be fair, the story tells the basic facts straightforwardly enough. The Obama Administration announced on Thursday that it would not prosecute anyone — no one at all — for the murder of two prisoners in American’s Terror War dungeons several years ago. As the story notes, this move “eliminat[es] the last possibility that any criminal charges will be brought as a result of the brutal interrogations carried out by the CIA” under the Bush Administration. Considering that dozens of detainees — if not many more — have been killed in detention over the course of the Terror War, this is a remarkable feat of erasure. Killing after killing after killing after killing — and not a single killer prosecuted by the “Justice” Department of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.
No, wait: we do the Peace Prize Laureate wrong in the above claim. The state-ordered, state-approved, state-protected murder and beating and freezing and slamming and stripping and ice-packing and plastic-wrapping of prisoners (many of them innocent people rounded up randomly or kidnapped or sold into captivity by criminals) has in fact produced one prosecution by the Laureate, as the NYT notes.
While no one has been prosecuted for the harsh interrogations, a former C.I.A. officer who helped hunt members of Al Qaeda in Pakistan and later spoke publicly about waterboarding, John C. Kiriakou, is awaiting trial on criminal charges that he disclosed to journalists the identity of other C.I.A. officers who participated in the interrogations.
There, see! The one CIA agent who revealed the names of people who tortured captives is being prosecuted with the full force of the law, with all the righteousness and moral fervor that we would expect from a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate! There’s something that any progressive can point to with pride when he or she works the phone banks and doorsteps for Obama, telling people to support the president and save us from the militarist nutballs and enemies of the truth in the Republican Party.
And yes, of course, the faction of the Imperial Bloc that just nominated Mitt Romney is a pack of militarist nutballs and enemies of the truth. But so is the other faction, which protects torturers, murderers people whose names they don’t even know based on arbitrarily chosen “life-pattern” details gleaned by robots in the sky, launches secret wars, foments coups, runs “black ops” in dozens of countries all over the world, killing hundreds of innocent people each year, plunging whole countries into chaos and ruin with its ‘terror war’ and ‘drug war’ and ‘economic war’ agendas — and ferociously prosecutes anyone who tries to smuggle out a few crumbs of truth about the abominable atrocities and self-destructive follies being carried out daily by a berserk militarist system which has no goal other than its own self-perpetuation and the forced domination of others.
And this will go on and on regardless of which faction of the Imperial Bloc wins in November. Yes, there are differences between the factions. The Republicans and Tea Partiers and Koch-heads are more openly racist, are more proud of their willful ignorance, and hate more of their fellow citizens than the Democrats seem to. (Although actually killing innocent Muslims, including many children, all over the world on a regular basis as the Democrats are doing might possibly be construed as being even more racist than, say, protesting the construction of a mosque somewhere. And the persistent belief that maintaining an all-devouring, treasury-bankrupting, globe-spanning military machine that kills people across the earth is a sensible policy that will produce peace and prosperity could be construed by some as willful ignorance on a Todd Akin-like level.)
But the fact is we have only one party, the Imperial Bloc. You may find one faction more distasteful than the other, but both fully support the moral insanity of the militarism outlined above. Whichever faction wins, more people will die horrible deaths — and no one will answer for it, no one will be prosecuted. And the firestorm of hatred and blowback that both factions of the Imperial Bloc keeps stoking against our country will continue to build. So be clear: if you vote for one of these factions, that is what you are supporting. Perhaps you may feel that such a dreadful moral compromise is necessary; that’s your choice. But if so, you should know — and feel — just what that choice means.
This article originally appeared on the blog Empire Burlesque.