Monday, September 26, 2005

Karen Hughes, goodwill ambassador

Amazing examples of




"We have had a very fundamental change in American policy toward the Middle East," Ms. Hughes said, speaking of the Bush administration's recent pressure on countries to foster democracy and elections.

On Iraq, she implored her audience to recognize that after Sept. 11, the United States had to deal with the threat of lethal weapons falling into the wrong hands. Brushing aside a questioner's concerns that Iraq was heading toward civil war, she said this ignored the "terrific courage" it took for Iraqis to vote - Iraqi officials reported 8.5 million voters.

"The big stumbling block right now is the insurgency," she said, adding that "people of good conscience" should denounce the killing of innocents in Iraq and elsewhere.

Ms. Hughes also used her visit as a showcase for a $10 million United States aid program that has restored an ancient medieval gate and artifacts and artworks in old Cairo.

She said that Americans admired Egyptians and Egyptian civilization and that most Americans were "sickened" by reports of abuse against Muslims at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. She deplored reports in the world press that the American response to Hurricane Katrina was racist because most of the people left behind in the evacuation of New Orleans were black. "I want to assure you nothing could be further from the truth," she said.

So much that is strange and pathetic in these attempts to convince the residents of the Middle East that only peace and democracy will come at the end of U.S. weaponry. I'll only suggest that it isn't "Egyptian civilization" that the Cheney administration admires most about Egyptians.

The obvious choice, Scheuer said, was Egypt. The largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid after Israel, Egypt was a key strategic ally, and its secret police force, the Mukhabarat, had a reputation for brutality. Egypt had been frequently cited by the State Department for torture of prisoners. According to a 2002 report, detainees were “stripped and blindfolded; suspended from a ceiling or doorframe with feet just touching the floor; beaten with fists, whips, metal rods, or other objects; subjected to electrical shocks; and doused with cold water [and] sexually assaulted.” Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s leader, who came to office in 1981, after President Anwar Sadat was assassinated by Islamist extremists, was determined to crack down on terrorism. His prime political enemies were radical Islamists, hundreds of whom had fled the country and joined Al Qaeda. Among these was Ayman al-Zawahiri, a physician from Cairo, who went to Afghanistan and eventually became bin Laden’s deputy.

In 1995, Scheuer said, American agents proposed the rendition program to Egypt, making clear that it had the resources to track, capture, and transport terrorist suspects globally—including access to a small fleet of aircraft. Egypt embraced the idea. “What was clever was that some of the senior people in Al Qaeda were Egyptian,” Scheuer said. “It served American purposes to get these people arrested, and Egyptian purposes to get these people back, where they could be interrogated.” Technically, U.S. law requires the C.I.A. to seek “assurances” from foreign governments that rendered suspects won’t be tortured. Scheuer told me that this was done, but he was “not sure” if any documents confirming the arrangement were signed.

I don't think that denying the reality of our government's policies is going to win us any more friends in the region. Just sayin'.


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