MAP Member Opinion "Peace"  

What Kind of America Does Bush Know?
by Leslie Reindl
sent to Star Tribune 5-13-04

To the Editor:

George W. Bush has said that prison torture in Iraq ³does not represent the America that I know." What kind of America does Bush know?

Harvey Wasserman, author of George W. Bush and the Superpower of Peace, points out in a recent article that, while Bush was governor of Texas, 152 prisoners were executed, among them Carla Faye Tucker, a murderer who became a Christian and for whom clemency was begged by a broad array of people; and an immigrant who was denied access to his government as required by international law. According to Wasserman, Bush said: "Texas did not sign the Vienna Convention, so why should we be subject to it?," and Federal Judge William Wayne Justice concluded that testimony by Texas inmates about violence, rape and extortion in prisons was credible. In a 1996 videotape, guards attack prisoners with stun guns and dogs and then drag them face down into their cells.

This sounds very much like the picture we have now all seen, of a female guard dragging a bound Iraqi prisoner by a "dog leash." Is the torture now being exposed the work of a small number of "untrained" guards, and taking place only in Abu Graib prison? Only the gullible among us will believe that, having known too many instances of U.S. assistance in the torture of so-called "guerrillas" especially in Central America, approval of the massacre of thousands of East Timorese by Indonesia, CIA-assisted assassinations of leaders around the world, and even here, the increasingly brutal police/military response to peaceful demonstrations, like that in Miami in November 2003. If George W. Bush praises Donald Rumsfeld for doing a "superb job," it is because, as Wasserman states, "Rumsfeld is doing superbly what George W. Bush wants done."

I fear that the horrible murder of Mr. Berg is only the beginning of reprisals for what has been done to helpless Iraqi prisoners. I am more afraid than ever for our young people in Iraq, trying to do the impossible job their government has demanded of them. I lay the blame for this unspeakable debacle directly on George W. Bush.

Will the United States be able to recover from this sordid and infamous chapter in our governance? Only if we can somehow show the world that this indeed is NOT the America we know.

Leslie Reindl

Leslie Reindl is President of Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers

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