US Militarism and Easter Day Disinformation on Iraq

We gather tonight knowing that this generation of heroes has made the United States safer and more respected round the world.

—President Barack Obama, State of the Union address, January 24, 2012

As Easter was celebrated in the US and UK with, for believers, the message of hope, Fallujah, the region and much of the country is again under siege, not this time by US mass murderers, but by the US proxy government’s militias armed with US delivered weapons.

In 2003, a month into the invasion, Easter Day fell on the same day as this year, April 20, as Iraqis of all denominations and none, died, were incarcerated, tortured, found with their heads drilled, or no heads, thrown on garbage piles.

Easter Day the following year, 2004 fell on Sunday April 11, and was marked by Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt confirming his total disregard for Iraqi life.

The carnage of the first siege of Fallujah was underway. At the daily press briefing he assured the media:

The Marines remain ready, willing and able at any time to provide any level of humanitarian assistance.

Outside the city of Fallujah, I understand they’ve already set up facilities for any displaced persons that come out of the city that need assistance.

That is something that the Marine Corps is expert in, the whole notion of assistance, rendering assistance to any town in the world at anytime.

Then as now, it is impossible to know whether to laugh or weep.

General Kimmitt. was then asked:

From here, from this podium, you talk about a clean war in Fallujah. But the Iraqis have an image through television from what is happening in Fallujah (including) killing children. Is there a way that you could convince Iraqis by your point of view that you have (only) utilized force against terrorists?

With his hallmark contempt for humanity, or anything to do with “rendering assistance”, he replied:

With regards to the solution on the images of Americans and coalition soldiers killing innocent civilians, my solution is quite simple: change the channel. Change the channel to a legitimate, authoritative, honest news station.

The stations that are showing Americans intentionally killing women and children are not legitimate news sources. That is propaganda, and that is lies. So you want a solution? Change the channel.

Jonathan Steel of the Guardian persisted:

General Kimmitt, you talk about changing channels, but what is your reply to people like (politican) Adnan Pachachi, who have accused the coalition forces of using collective punishment on the city of Fallujah? Have you got a reply a little bit more nuanced and subtle than just to tell Mr. Pachachi to change channels?

Without shame, the General responded to the situation in the town which has become known as “Iraq’s Guernica” with:

In this case, we can disagree without being disagreeable, but it is not the practice of the coalition forces, any of the coalition nations, to exercise collective punishment or collective action on a city. That is just not done. It is not practiced. And it violates international law. And we don’t believe at this point that coalition can be shown any proof to suggest that it is in violation of international law or the laws of land warfare.

The town was, in fact, treated as a “free fire zone”, two hospitals were demolished including a recently built emergency centre and at the General Hospital, patients and doctors were initially handcuffed, the “liberators’ regarding it as “a centre of propaganda”, since the staff talked, then as now, of the numbers of dead and wounded they were treating. The “non-American wounded were, in essence left to die”, as a result.

Meanwhile Lt-Col Pete Newell stated that US Forces wanted “Fallujah to understand what democracy is all about.”

Colonel Ralph Peters, ever in pursuit of his vision of eternal war, said of this vision of democracy:

We must not be afraid to make an example of Fallujah. We need to demonstrate that the United States military cannot be deterred or defeated. If that means widespread destruction, we must accept the price . . . Even if Fallujah has to go the way of Carthage, reduced to shards, the price will be worth it.

Now it is known definitively what a pack of lies were Kimmitt’s assurances, with the General having confirmed his knowledge of violations of international law – even before the second decimation of Fallujah later in the year, perhaps someone should surely visit him and Colonel Peters with a view to including them in an upcoming historic class action lawsuit which has been filed in the US.

Less than a month after Kimmitt’s channel changing advice, General Taguba released his Report on what “democracy was all about” at the hands of the US military at Abu Ghraib prison, a short distance from Fallujah. It still chills and should shame for all time. Just a few of his findings reveal “that the intentional abuse of detainees by military police personnel included the following acts”:

— Punching, slapping, and kicking detainees; jumping on their naked feet.
— Videotaping and photographing naked male and female detainees
— Forcibly arranging detainees in various sexually explicit positions for photographing
— Forcing detainees to remove their clothing and keeping them naked for several days at a time
— Forcing naked male detainees to wear women’s underwear
— Forcing groups of male detainees to masturbate themselves while being photographed and videotaped
— arranging naked male detainees in a pile and then jumping on them
— Positioning a naked detainee on a MRE Box, with a sandbag on his head, and attaching wires to his fingers, toes, and penis to simulate electric torture
— Writing “I am a Rapest” (sic) on the leg of a detainee alleged to have forcibly raped a 15-year old fellow detainee, and then photographing him naked
— Placing a dog chain or strap around a naked detainee’s neck and having a female soldier pose for a picture
— A male MP guard having sex with a female detainee-
— Taking photographs of dead Iraqi detainees.
— Breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees
— Threatening detainees with a charged 9mm pistol
— Pouring cold water on naked detainees
— Beating detainees with a broom handle and a chair
— Threatening male detainees with rape
— Allowing a military police guard to stitch the wound of a detainee who was injured after being slammed against the wall in his cell
— Sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick
— Using military working dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees with threats of attack, and in one instance actually biting a detainee.

Did the General not know of what was happening at the hands of US troops throughout the region? His knowledge of Iraq, however, was such that in the press conference cited above, he referred to Baghdad, of which journalists, he thought, would be “familiar”, as a “town”, this most ancient city of seven million people.

Baghdad, formerly, as Kurt Nimmo writes, the most advanced city in the Middle East, has now been designated in a recent survey the world’s worst city “a dangerous ruin, stricken by sectarian and religious violence, corruption, crime, unemployment, pollution and numerous other problems.”

Mark Kimmitt is now retired and “is an advisor to US firms in the Middle East” presumably profiting from US destabilization and industrial scale murder and destruction, ongoing in Iraq after eleven years, at an average of one thousand souls a month.

It has to be wondered if, on the tenth anniversary of his massive Easter Day mistruths, he reflected on his words, Iraq’s ongoing carnage – and that when a journalist had asked him what he would say to Iraq’s children, traumatized by the noise of America’s war planes and bombs, he replied: “Tell them it’s the sound of freedom.”

Felicity Arbuthnot is a journalist with special knowledge of Iraq. Author, with Nikki van der Gaag, of Baghdad in the Great City series for World Almanac books, she has also been Senior Researcher for two Award winning documentaries on Iraq, John Pilger's Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq and Denis Halliday Returns for RTE (Ireland.) Read other articles by Felicity.