The Last Ditch -- Henry Gallagher Fields on DISASSEMBLIN' THEM GOOLAGS


Disassemblin' them goolags
with Dubya and the goof-doctors




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Just when you think the man can't possibly get any goofier, well, "There he goes again," in the phrase popularized by one of his sainted imperial predecessors. In his recent news conference from the Rose Garden of the palace, Dubya made other clown politicians look like philosopher kings, as he issued his fruity fulminations against the Amnesty International report on prisoner abuse.

Our titular ruler is indeed a master of hilarious inanity, on the grimmest of subjects. And as described in the Amnesty report, the American detention policy is grim. It is arbitrary and it is brutal: in their dragnet for terrorists, the U.S. global police have scooped up anyone unlucky enough to stray within reach, often buying them like cattle, actually; and to make more friends and influence more people around the world they've practiced a nasty bit of torture on some of their helpless human livestock. Being as how it's difficult to refute those nosy Amnesty folk on the facts — it's hard work! It's hard! — the folks in charge of everything decided to substitute a little spinning, even though Dubya sometimes gets a mite dizzy when he has to help out with that sort of thing.

The spinmeisters focused on challenging the report's reference to U.S. detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as the "gulag of our times." When the facts are inconvenient and over-stubborn, obsessive semantics is always a good dodge. The Soviets imprisoned maybe 60 million people in their gulag, whereas Washington has jugged only about 50,000 terror suspects, with fewer than a thousand being hosted down at Gitmo. In other words, by the extremely high standard set by Lenin and Stalin, the United States is just a piker. That being so, you can understand why all those unfair complaints hurt the feelings of our compassionate imperials! Those guests at Gitmo in particular should be thankful they're luxuriating in the balmy Caribbean instead of busting rocks in some Soviet hellhole north of the Arctic Circle. And everyone else should simply shut up about it.

As for Amnesty International, the palace would have us understand that they're just a cabal of America-haters — a slumgullion of commies, fascists, and ... and ... Frenchmen, probably! Why, on Sunday, June 5, Fox's Chris Wallace even extracted a confession from the chief American Amnestian that he had donated money to the campaign of John Kerry. Some may think that revelation suggests more naiveté than anything else; but let's press on. What do the Amnestigators know about human rights and prisoner abuse anyway? — good citizens will ask — and why don't they keep their prissy little proboscis out of other people's business? Such busybodies are useful to the Holy American Empire only when they point out the brutality practiced in countries, such as Saddam's Iraq, that the Empire is planning to invade.

In any event, the spinmeisters must have thought they had Dubya well enough programmed to implement the venerable attack-the-messenger-and-avoid-the-facts approach. But, alas, communications went awry in some way; I note in passing that the news gala was held outdoors, and radio transmission isn't quite as reliable as direct wiring. Suffice it to say that some disorientation ensued, even if — and isn't it sad whenever you see this? — the disorientee didn't actually notice.

It started out well, though, as Dubya went for the quick KO, attempting no sophisticated dancing and weaving or even any jabbing, but just throwing a haymaker: "I'm aware of the Amnesty International report, and it's absurd, it's an absurd allegation." Now, the insult-sans-reasoning attack is favored by habitués of the rougher sort of tavern; but the thing is, you've got to make sure you have a bottle in your hand to smash over your absurdist adversary's absurd head before he has a chance, most absurdly, to ask any of those absurd follow-up questions.

However, desperately bottleless as he's been now for the past some years, Dubya had to go on dutifully following his handlers' script, tossing out a free-floating idea balloon intended to "explain" the "absurd" nature of Amnesty's documented charges: "The United States is a country that promotes freedom around the world."

Question-begger? Non sequitur? Well, old H.G. reports; you decide. In any case this sort of mental smog is a great tactic for gulling the low-IQ set: If the United States promotes freedom in, let's say, Uzbekistan, Iraq, and the West Bank, it's inconceivable that any foul play could take place down at Gitmo or at any other American detention camp. It was the most impeccable logic displayed since Big Dominic Feloni's lawyer protested that since Big Dom went to Mass regularly, loved his mother, and once bought new uniforms for the St. Aloysius CYO's fifth-grade baseball team, he couldn't possibly have ordered the murder of the six men found floating in the East River. It got Big Dom off the hook, though his boys with their violin cases prominently displayed may have impressed the jurors a little, too.

It was then, tragically, that Our Spinning Logician-in-Chief went a rev too far, gyrating into specificity but right out of the English language. Dubya complained that Amnesty International appeared to base some of its allegations on the accounts of detainees, "people who hate America, people that have been trained in some instances to disassemble."

Indeed, those trained to "disassemble" can be a difficult lot! Dubya knows all about disassembling from when he was a little shaver. Used to stuff firecrackers down frogs' mouths. After a couple of years he figured out that you can't reassemble them critters. And off to the Ivy League he went, to learn him how to disassemble even gooder!

Anyhow, Dubya, bright boy that he is, Yale gradge-ee-it and all, hastened to offer the breathless reporters a definition of "disassemble." It "means not tell the truth," quoth Dubya, beaming as broadly as the lad who spelled "katt" in Miss Plunkett's first-grade class.

Gadzooks! His trainers must have had such high hopes for that one: if they could only get their Dubya to utter one real big college-type vocabulary word, it might fool a lot of people into thinking the poor fella wasn't as feeble as everyone had figured. Well, back to the drawing board. Need to work on that pernounciation, and while we're at it, check out both the transmitter and Dubya's earpiece. If the audio wasn't right, "dissemble" might sound like "disassemble." Or maybe — wait! — from now on, the Chief Disassembalator could just move his lips while Elliot Abrams did the actual talking! Ah, no, on second thought that New York accent probably wouldn't fly.

But to get back to those disassembling rascals, all loyal imperials know you can never expect victims, of all people, to tell the truth. Yes, yes, that's the very type of eyewitness who has been relied on as the very paragon of truth and virtue for establishing the Holocaust story, in the absence of physical and documentary evidence, all of which simply vanished. But, look, that was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away; and, most important, those eyewitnesses were representatives of another ethnic group.

It's just too bad for the imperials that released prisoners are not likely to be happy campers. And released prisoners are the only ones who could possibly talk to any outsiders, since the actual prisoners are usually unavailable to be interviewed by Diane Sawyer. Folks who are imprisoned falsely — and if they were really terrorists they wouldn't have been released, right? — do often become a tad testy if they haven't seen sunlight for three years. And those testicular shock treatments and wooden instruments thrust up the ... well! — let's just say those particular therapies aren't designed to make the detainees' disposition any cheerier. In fact, some of them may feel that they've been disassembled, a little.

Amnesty International makes a big fuss about the prisoners being jailed without charges or trials. But a stalwart imperial would naturally wonder why all that legalistic folderol was thought to be necessary. The United States paid good American taxpayer money for those "enemy combatants." Afghani and Pakistani warlords jubilantly rounded up subjects who looked Arab or foreign, and sold them as captured fighters; and everybody was happy in the exchange. The warlords got their loot — a lot more than they ever got for selling a camel, a donkey, or a daughter, no matter how comely — and the American Empire got its "enemy combatants." Who knows and who cares what "enemy combatants" are, anyhow? It now appears that the Gitmo prisoners included relief workers, refugees, and Arab businessmen, but as the kids like to say, whateverrr.

Dubya ended his news conference by summing everything up with exquisite concision and, shall we say, economy of logic: "And so it was an absurd report. It just is."

That's telling 'em, Dubya. You really gave it to them hoity-toity Amnesia Internationalists: How dare them Frogs or humanatanians or passyfists refer to our nice camps as Soviet goulash?! Big-city eggheads may accept all that Amnesian lingo as mere hyperbole — hieee-PER-buh-leee — but, Dubya, yer right on the money. It's just more of that furrin disassembling. And we ain't gunna stand fer it no more. And if'n they keep a'doin' it, maybe a little time in the calaboose would be good medicine fer them, too!

June 7, 2005

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