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Is the famous shoe-throwing journalist of Baghdad now a torture victim? George W. Bush’s triumphal visit to Baghdad turned out to be something closer to theater of the absurd. The lasting image, repeated countless times in the broadcast news, shows Muntadar al-Zaidi, an Iraqi TV journalist throwing first one shoe, then the other, at the hapless president. “This is a farewell kiss, you dog!” he shouted.
Al-Zaidi, like almost every local reporter in Iraq, has repeatedly been arrested and held by U.S. forces. That is a little-discussed aspect of the Bush Administration’s heavy-handed policies in Iraq. They demonstrate contempt for the local media by imprisoning and mistreating reporters by the hundreds. The local media reciprocate, of course–Americans do not, by and large, get a flattering portrait in the local Iraqi media, unless the Americans are paying for it. (And pay-for-coverage is another aspect of the bizarre media relations scheme engineered by the United States.)
Last night, reports spread in the Iraqi media that al-Zaidi had been tortured and was being held by the Americans in Camp Cropper. When I first heard this I dismissed it; it struck me as impossible that the U.S. forces in Iraq would do such a thing, particularly considering the media attention the shoe-throwing garnered. Now, however, I am wondering just what happened to al-Zaidi. The BBC reports:
Muntadar al-Zaidi has suffered a broken hand, broken ribs and internal bleeding, as well as an eye injury, his older brother, Dargham, told the BBC.
The BBC also confirmed reports that al-Zaidi was in U.S. custody and now receiving medical attention. It is not clear that he was in U.S. custody when he was beaten; however, the Baghdad Command owes us some explanations before the situation gets out of hand.
Bush’s visit to Baghdad helped us relive the Bush experience in Iraq: deceit, stealth, misrepresentation in government dealings, the contempt of the Iraqi public, and now an echo of prisoner abuse and torture. The Bush legacy tour is really out on a bender.
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
Freddie Gray’s relatives arrived for the trial in the afternoon, after the prep-school kids had left. By their dress, they seemed to have just gotten off work in the medical and clerical fields. The family did not appear at ease in the courtroom. They winced and dropped their heads as William Porter and his fellow officer Zachary Novak testified to opening the doors of their police van last April and finding Freddie paralyzed, unresponsive, with mucus pooling at his mouth and nose. Four women and one man mournfully listened as the officers described needing to get gloves before they could touch him.
The first of six Baltimore police officers to be brought before the court for their treatment of Freddie Gray, a black twenty-five-year-old whose death in their custody was the immediate cause of the city’s uprising last spring, William Porter is young, black, and on trial. Here in this courtroom, in this city, in this nation, race and the future seem so intertwined as to be the same thing.
Average speed of Heinz ketchup, from the mouth of an upended bottle, in miles per year:
After studying the fall of 64,000 individual raindrops, scientists found that some small raindrops fall faster than they ought to.
The Playboy mansion in California was bought by the heir to the Twinkie fortune, and a New Mexico man set fire to his apartment to protest his neighbors’ loud lovemaking.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”