Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Our Saudi Buddies From CBS News:
Why did the Government of Saudi Arabia frame seven westerners for a series of car bombings they didn't commit? Those car bombings, which began in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, in November 2000, killed three members of the expatriate community and severely injured several others. To western observers, they were clearly the work of Islamic fundamentalists. But the Saudis were not about to admit that. So five Britons, a Canadian and a Belgian found themselves arrested, systematically tortured into false confessions and eventually convicted of those bombings...[Including Dr. William Sampson] Six years ago, Sampson had taken a job as a business consultant in Saudi Arabia. But in November 2000, two cars bombs went off in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, killing a British engineer and injuring several other westerners. Three weeks later, as Sampson was leaving his home in Riyadh for work, a grey sedan pulled up beside him. “Three Saudis in traditional dress came out of the sedan. One of them waved a warrant card and pistol in my face,” recalls Sampson. “The others pinned my arms behind my back, stripped me of my belongings, handcuffed me, began punching and beating me, and pushed me into the vehicle.” Sampson was blindfolded and driven to a closely guarded building on the outskirts of Riyadh, which is the detention center of the Mabahith - the Saudi security police. There, he was tortured into confessing that he had carried out those bombings. “It initially started with punchings and kickings, and that progressed from beating me on the soles of my feet to being hung upside down in a position known as the chicken -- with your feet uppermost and your feet and backside exposed, readily available for beating,” says Sampson. “And between interrogation sessions, I was returned to the same cell and handcuffed to the door, so I couldn't sit down and I couldn't sleep.” He said that after being beating on the soles of his feet and chained to the door, he stood in agony: “There’s no way you can, I could even kneel down in that position, and so I'd be standing on my feet which were swollen, so badly swollen that they were actually exuding plasma through the skin.” How long did it take before he confessed? “On the night of the sixth day is when I started to confess, when I would, I couldn't take any more,” says Sampson. “At that stage, I mean, I used to pray that, I would pray during the beatings that I would black out, and I never did. And by that stage, I was actually praying that I would just die.”
There is substantially more, but the gist is this, the Saudi internal government and its bizarre theocratic policies gave birth to groups like Al Qaeda and continues to have an arms-length relationship with them. Sixteen of Nineteen of the hijackers on 9/11 came from Saudi Arabia, the bulk of Al Qaeda's under the table support is tied to Saudi Arabia. Comparatively Iraq was a non-entity, produced no hijackers, had no ties to Al Qaeda, yet we have invaded there and: -- Lost soon to be 800 soldiers there; -- Lost another few hundred American civilians -- Not stopped Al Qaeda via our efforts at all - but rather given them entre into the country. -- Are now more hated globally then ever; -- Our allies consider us the "Rising Hegemon"; -- The strategic limitations of being a super-power have been fully demonstrated; -- The bill is now over $200 Billion and we are still waiting for the after-dinner drinks and dessert of at least another $100 Billion. And that is just for starters. Of course, we have also shown ourselves to be by-and-large the most dissapointingly ill-informed people on earth -- which the Bush Administration uses to its advantage. Despite all of the possible access to information most Americans could utilize, they don't do so, and they follow their President (or perhaps he just reflects us) in ignorant bliss and simple answers (often patently false) to complex questions. This soldier merely reflected the thoughts of the country last June -- from Billmon:
Even though no Iraqis were involved, and there is no proof Saddam was behind it, the attack on the World Trade Center provides Cpl Richardson and many others with the justification for invading Iraq. "There's a picture of the World Trade Center hanging up by my bed and I keep one in my Kevlar [flak jacket]. Every time I feel sorry for these people I look at that. I think, 'They hit us at home and, now, it's our turn.' I don't want to say payback but, you know, it's pretty much payback."
Sadly, even today this remains the argument of the either wilfully ignorant, or malevolently deceitful. And for those who see complexity, and realize nuance is important in the world, say like a John Kerry, what are they portrayed as? Flip-Floppers. Nice. As much as I love the country, if this shinola can be sold, perhaps we deserve the Chimp. Just lock me up Ashcroft.
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