Barbarians

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By that I mean us, not the Iraqi people. The Bush administration can spend $400-500 billion per year on weaponry, but we're not going to spend the money it will take to make Iraq any kind of livable place for its people.

Not only have we killed and maimed untold civilians -- warning: graphic photos, not what the U.S. media shows -- we have allowed treasures from the dawn of civilization to be plundered over a two day period from the National Museum of Iraq. Somehow we found the resources to protect the Oil Ministry in Baghdad and the oil facilities of Kirkuk, but not the hospitals.

The response of our "leaders"? Rumsfeld:

Rumsfeld: Let me say one other thing. The images you are seeing on television you are seeing over, and over, and over, and it's the same picture of some person walking out of some building with a vase, and you see it 20 times, and you think, "My goodness, were there that many vases?" (Laughter.) "Is it possible that there were that many vases in the whole country?"

Q: Do you think that the words "anarchy" and "lawlessness" are ill-chosen --

Rumsfeld: Absolutely. I picked up a newspaper today and I couldn't believe it. I read eight headlines that talked about chaos, violence, unrest. And it just was Henny Penny -- "The sky is falling." I've never seen anything like it! And here is a country that's being liberated, here are people who are going from being repressed and held under the thumb of a vicious dictator, and they're free. And all this newspaper could do, with eight or 10 headlines, they showed a man bleeding, a civilian, who they claimed we had shot -- one thing after another. It's just unbelievable how people can take that away from what is happening in that country!

Do I think those words are unrepresentative? Yes.

...

And, does that mean you couldn't go in there and take a television camera or get a still photographer and take a picture of something that was imperfect, untidy? I could do that in any city in America. Think what's happened in our cities when we've had riots, and problems, and looting. Stuff happens! But in terms of what's going on in that country, it is a fundamental misunderstanding to see those images over, and over, and over again of some boy walking out with a vase and say, "Oh, my goodness, you didn't have a plan." That's nonsense. They know what they're doing, and they're doing a terrific job. And it's untidy, and freedom's untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things. They're also free to live their lives and do wonderful things, and that's what's going to happen here.

The people of Baghdad are holding protests about the lack of power and water, and the inability of our troops to quell the looting. We responded with an example of how protest is allowed in our democracy these days:

Scores of Iraqis protested in Baghdad on Sunday, accusing U.S. forces of being concerned only with oil and not with helping Iraq get back on its feet.

American soldiers erected a barbed wire barricade to separate protesters from the central Palestine Hotel where most of the international media is based in the Iraqi capital.

The latest news out of Washington is that we expect to get away with not spending too much of our own money for reconstruction:

The Bush administration on Friday played down the need for a costly reconstruction effort in Iraq, citing limited damage to the country's oil fields and other infrastructure and rapid progress in the war.

The White House has not put a dollar figure on rebuilding Iraq, but officials expressed confidence that the cost to U.S. taxpayers can be offset with increased oil production and financial contributions from U.S. allies.

"There's just no reason that this can't be an affordable endeavor," said White House budget director Mitch Daniels.

Daniels and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the bombing campaign was so precise there was minimal damage to Iraq's civilian infrastructure.

"I don't know that there is much reconstruction to do," Rumsfeld told reporters late Thursday.

On the homefront, our slide into a police state continues unabated. The media and courts are silent as Mike Hawash, an American citizen, continues to be held without charge and without access to his family or a lawyer. Jose Padilla is still not allowed to talk to anyone, including a lawyer. A few days ago, more details were revealed about the NYPD's practice of asking protesters about their political background:

Donna Lieberman, the Civil Liberties Union executive director, said that after questioning the arrested demonstrators about their political ties, detectives filed the information on a form with a federal seal and entered it into a database.

In addition, she said, the protesters had been denied the right to counsel after they had been arrested.

Joel Kupferman, a lawyer representing the National Lawyers Guild, said that demonstrators have told him that while in custody at One Police Plaza they were asked the following questions by detectives:

"What is your view of Israel? What is your view of Palestine? What do you think of 9/11? And where were you during 9/11?"

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Protesters did not have their constitutional rights violated because they were questioned during the arrest process, added the commissioner.

Apparently Police Commissioner Ray Kelly believes that asking someone about their politics while you're arresting them falls under the category of questions like name and address. A lot of people think he's behaving this way because he wants to get appointed to a position in the Bush regime.