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June 02, 2005

Ours is not a gulag

Listen up, this week's right wing talking point is improvisational. Your job is to act outraged, horrified, shocked, and dismayed that Amnesty International described Guantanamo Bay as "the gulag of our times."

Unfortunately, from a marketing perspective, "We aren't running a gulag." is right up there with "I am not a crook."

So, here's a little backgrounder on the huge differences between America's global penal archipelago and the real G.U.L.A.G.

First off, ours is tiny. America is holding less than 1/100th of 1 percent of the number of prisoners interned by Stalin.

Second, we're offering global solutions for a global war on terror. The original gulag was was hamstrung by a centralized socialist bureaucracy. They did all their murder and torture in-house. We're not nearly so hidebound. We outsource most of the really heavy "interrogation" work to our allies and highly specialized mercenaries soldiers of fortune private security contractors.

We're so modern and flexible that we don't know exactly how many people we're holding, or whether they've been charged. A lot of people just "disappear" into a kind of limbo, so it's hard to get an accurate count. The world is flat, buddy. Deal.

If someone compares our penal network to the gulag, just laugh and call them ignorant. Any sophomore can tell you that the gulag was a network of forced labor camps. We prefer forced indefinite leisure in small chicken wire cages.

Unlike the old school gulag, our archipelago is built by good old American capitalists, that's why it's light, mobile, and poised for growth.

Jason Burke of the Observer runs by some of the highlights of our own little archipelago:

The United States government, in conjunction with key allies, is running an 'invisible' network of prisons and detention centres into which thousands of suspects have disappeared without trace since the 'war on terror' began. In the past three years, thousands of alleged militants have been transferred around the world by American, Arab and Far Eastern security services, often in secret operations that by-pass extradition laws. [...]

The ghost prison network stretches around the globe. The biggest American-run facilities are at the Bagram airbase, north of Kabul in Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, where around 400 men are held, and in Iraq, where tens of thousands of detainees are held. Saddam Hussein and dozens of top Baath party officials are held in a prison at Baghdad airport.

However, Washington is relying heavily on allies. In Morocco, scores of detainees once held by the Americans are believed to be held at the al-Tamara interrogation centre sited in a forest five miles outside the capital, Rabat. Many of the detainees were originally captured by the Pakistani authorities, who passed them on to the Americans. [Observer]

So, remember, anyone who insinuates that America is involved in any way shape or form with any gulagdom is a crazy Bush-hating relativist. They also hate the victims of Stalin. Maybe they even like Stalin! Anyone who says the g-word might as well be singing the Marseillaise while pissing on the grave of Ivan Denisovich.

Any questions?



"Stalin made mistakes but he was not a villain."

You are either a lunatic or a wingnut playing more stupic games.


"You like your freedom? Deal with the fact that the Government needs to do unpopular things."

Like shred the Constitution and the Bill of Rights to the point that even large groups of conservatives oppose him now as well as liberals.

He's a ruthless petty tyrannt manipulating morons like you using fear and empty vapid false patriotism to strip away the fundamental safe guards of our democratic republic, the checks and balances of our government to shreds.

The world is a safer place because of St. George? Terrorist attacks world wide have increased 370% in the last year. Ooh I feel so much safer... think I'll hav a picnic.

"Ever wonder what life would have been like if Germany won World War 2?"

Just about what it was like right now. Hitler declared "War on the Godless" and touted his own Catholicism and how he stood for good Christian values and was protecting people of faith.

After the Reichstag fire he got special powers granted him to take citizens into "protective custody" without charging them with a crime and detaining the indefinitly in the same way the Patriot Act is being used to strip our civil rights away.

He also attacked the judiciary and took power away from the Supreme court in Germany. He set up "special tribunals" to deal with crimes against the state, not unlike what is going on right now.


sorry about the stupic typos... just got up.

Daily Show Iraq update and Amnesty report:

Fantastic post.

Bush doesn't have the world's most sohisticated army (most sophisticated at the time) marching across Europe. But then, Bush doesn't have the world's most sophisticated army in any case. Otherwise, another great post by Flint.

(That's 3 sophisticateds in one tiny paragraph, I should get a prize.)


I'd make you a prize but I haven't figured out if it is possible to post graphics to this site.

Actually regarding the lack of a romp of our army across Europe... we don't want to give Bush any ideas or he'll want to invade Poland next. Every one knows that you're a Bush league despot unless you invade Poland!

If the World Trade Center was hit under Al Gore, would we have gone after Usama?

I'm sorry, but where's Osama?

Stalin wasn't a villain at all. Why, the two-thirds of the USSR's population that he didn't kill or send to the gulag got better under his rule...

Alon thinks Stalin wasn't a villian...Alon thinks we think that...ha ha ha...

President Bush has strayed over the line separating “those who play footsies with dictators” and “those who actively aid their crimes against humanity.”

He needs to be impeached.

Evidence: Bush Speech to the U.N. Tuesday, September 21, 2004; 11:44 AM

Bush: “Both the American Declaration of Independence and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaim the equal value and dignity of every human life…That dignity is dishonored by oppression, corruption, tyranny, bigotry, terrorism and all violence against the innocent…”

MSNBC/Washington Post Article Saturday, June 4, 2005

“Uzbek security forces opened fire on crowds in Andijan that included anti-government demonstrators, Islamic militants and prisoners freed in a jail break.”

“U.S. officials are concerned that U.S.-trained military units might have participated in the Uzbekistan government’s suppression of unrest in Andijan on May 13…”

“An investigation would most likely show that Uzbekistan authorities ‘used a level of force that was completely unjustified and they killed many innocent civilians,‘ said Sen. John E. Sununu (R-N.H.)…Based on reports of U.S. Embassy officials there who gathered eyewitness accounts, Sununu believes between 500 to 1,000 people were killed in the unrest and that Uzbekistan Special Forces and regular security forces were involved” in the killings “which (Republican Senator Lindsey) Graham called a ‘massacre.’”

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman, speaking for the President:

“When you look at the totality of what Uzbekistan has been doing, they’ve been a very valuable partner and ally in the global war on terror…”

President Bush at his Presidential Inauguration January 20,2004 :

“So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.”

“All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will no

Mudkitty, are you trying to wind me up or something? I was mocking exactly one person - mayfirst with his/her "Stalin was a good guy" apologetics.

Alon, yes I was poking fun at you, and believe me, no one was defending Stalin. That's a paranoid group fantacy of the right.

Placing President Bush up there with Stalin and Hitler seems to be in his defense...

Look, as for the war in Iraq, let's get a few of the facts straight. Who was shooting missles at ours and UN aircraft? Iraq. Who gave money to the families of Suicide Bombers? Iraq, (Saddam). Who allowed numerous terrorist training facilities, including one with the entire body of a 737 aircraft? Iraq. Who used wood chippers to feed people into them for entertainment? Saddam and sons.

Is there some problem with going after someone like this? If President Bush stayed out of Iraq, would Liberals be all over him for not helping these people?

Oh, and before it comes out here... Oil is not an issue, USA does not get oil from Iraq. We have a contract with OPEC, Iraq does not, and can not, and never has produced enough oil to cover OPEC's output. This is not about oil. This is about doing what is right.

Free millions, stop a public supporter of terrorism, and elimanate a dangerous government from power in an already unstable region. And you say "Bad Job, Bush,".

So little respect, that you cannot even use his title.


--Who's killed the most Kurds?

The Kurds.
More Kurds have killed Kurds than the number killed by Turkey, Iran, and Hussein combined, during their 3 decades long "fratricide" war.

--Who made a surprise appearance in 1991 on Baghdad TV to hug and kiss Saddam Hussein?

Kurdish warlord and current Iraqi president Talabani. And this was long after the "gassed his own people", after Gulf War 1, after the uprisings in Iraq.

--Who danced & cheered in celebrations after Talabani hugged & kissed Saddam Hussein in 1991?

The Kurds.

--Who asked Hussein for help in 1996 to fight against Kurdish warlord Talabani and his Kurds?

Kurd and warlord Barzani.

--During the Iran-Iraq war, Halabjah was attacked with blood agent gas; how many Kurd deaths were originally reported until the number was increased several years later right before Desert Storm?

"several hundred".

The CIA's website still lists "hundreds", not thousands or tens of thousands, and as being "caught in cross-fire between Iranians and Iraqi forces". We call that "collateral damage".

--When doctors sent by France, the United Nations and the Red Cross examined gassed Kurdish refugees in Turkey, what symptoms did the doctors say were exhibited?

Non-lethal tear gas.

--What nation had the highest number of citizens with PhDs on the world? And had more PhDs than America? (per capita)

Iraq. Under Hussein's government.

--What did the rebels do in their 1991 uprising?

Slaughtered thousands of Iraqis.

--What did the Hussein government do about the rebel uprising?

Slaughtered thousands of Iraqis.

--Where did the figure of "300,000" originate as the number of Iraqis "killed by Hussein"?

The figure (originally 200,000-250,000 over 30 years) was an estimate of an estimate of a "general international consensus" the HRW used as an estimate for the number of Iraqis unaccounted for, ‘many of whom are believed to have been killed’— and not for the number buried in mass graves.

Hania Mufti, one of the researchers that produced that estimate, said: 'Our estimates were based on estimates. The eventual figure was based in part on circumstantial information gathered over the years.',6903,1263830,00.html

HRW itself refuses to use its figure of 290,000 as an estimate for the number of bodies in mass graves.

To date, aproximately 5000 remains have been found, dating from the 1991 rebel uprisings.,6903,1263830,00.html

--Who "mass-graved" thousands of Iraqis by bulldozing over them?

US forces in 1991.

--What nation defended this atrocity by saying a gap in international law allowed for burying Iraqis alive?

The USA.

And please note:

--Saddam Hussein and his "woodchipper people-shredder"?

Long-time Iraq war supporter Ann Clwyd came up with this sequel to the "incubator babies" lie. Clwyd said; "We heard it from a victim; we heard it and we believed it."

One unidentified, unverified source; one person. That's her entire "proof".

Clwyd insists that corroboration of the shredder story came when she was shown a dossier by a reporter from Fox TV. On June 18, Clwyd wrote a second article for the Times, citing a "record book" from Abu Ghraib, which described one of the methods of execution as "mincing".

-Can she say who compiled this book?
"No, I can't."

-Where is it now?
"I don't know."

-What was the name of the Fox reporter who showed it to her?
"I have no idea."

-Did Clwyd read the entire thing?
"No, it was in Arabic! I only saw it briefly."

Curiously, there is no mention of the book or of "mincing" as a method of execution on the Fox News website, nor does its foreign editor recall it.,3604,1155399,00.html

--What actual claims of human rights violations were made against Hussein's government in 2002?

-death penalty
-long (2 years) detentions without trials
-"some apparently tortured first"
-arbitrary arrests
-forced expulsion of Kurds from Kirkuk

--Who said attacking Iraq cannot be justified as a "humanitarian intervention"?

Human Rights Watch

Amnesty International

"Who was shooting missles at ours and UN aircraft?"

Please see:

"Free millions"

Sorry I must have missed that bit. I was reading about the 700 Iraqis and 70 American soldiers who died in May alone.

Good research MUDPUDDLE, and that's stuff's just for starters. Poor ALEX has bought into a propaganda-pile. He's so naieve it breaks my heart. He doesn't have a grasp on history.

Did you mention that the Iraqis were shooting missles at planes that were bombing them? Did Alex know that our bombing raids date back to Clinton? No? I didn't think so.

Good research MUDPUDDLE, and that's stuff's just for starters. Poor ALEX has bought into a propaganda-pile. He's so naieve it breaks my heart. He doesn't have a grasp on history.

Did you mention that the Iraqis were shooting missles at planes that were bombing them? Did Alex know that our bombing raids date back to Clinton? No? I didn't think so.

You are joking, right... Ok, here we go...

No Fly Zone definition – PBS, still leaning left, but factual here.

Iraq Attacks in Arab news… Follow the links, they are endless. Again - FACT

As left as you can get, the gassing incident – NEW YORKER MAGAZINE – please note the “KURDISTAN OBSERVER” reprint of the New Yorker Article! Seems the Kurds agree as well. Your links to opinions are fine, but they are just that, other bloggers opinions linked to in articles.

Free Iraq… Duh? Let’s use Iraqi American opinions, not your tiny URL. Size does matter… I’ll start with M. Shahid Alam, a Professor of Economics at Northeastern University.

Who said attacking Iraq couldn’t be justified as a "humanitarian intervention"? I guess your links have more to do with POLITICS than FACT! My rebuttal to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch is below.

The “Women for Iraq” website. I’m sure if President Bush did nothing in Iraq, these women would be standing by the side of the Democrats, not pushed away by them and the media left. I do know this was former President Clintons’ agenda as well, and I give him great credit for his work to get it done. I just think passing laws was not enough.

Your link to the articles of us bulldozing bodies is from the same site (The Truth Seeker) that links to an article that implies that we knocked down the World Trade Center ourselves… Here is the link to “the Truth”. If you follow the trail, you will find that the firemen blew up the supports causing the buildings to fall, to make America angry enough to support the war. Why didn’t we know? Because the bombs were made to go off right away, trapping the firemen in the collapse! I am still laughing… (Follow the paths, it gets funny…)

The Smoking Gun… Torture used by Saddam, (Page 21)

Photos and links to video… Pretty compelling stuff! I did not find a wood chipper, sorry. I did find that the evidence says 30,000 deaths by torture. I guess that beats the “Hundreds” you quoted.

I think your research was great, just politically motivated. If this was former Vice President Gore’s war, (if he was President,) I’m sure the liberal organization would be for the Presidents agenda. Break out of the politics, take off your blinders and look at the reality!!! Don’t tell me about opinions; I was a Democrat that started reading a lot. I still consider myself fairly liberal, just not a Democrat. Just no longer ignorant.

Video of fingers being chopped off, beatings, and a man getting his arms broken as punishment...

I will warn you, if your easily sickened, don't watch. Don't let your kids see this either!!!,filter.all/event_detail.asp

was my source for the bombing of Iraq in September 2002, Alex. (And that was quoting the London Times.)


"During both the Clinton and Bush administrations, Washington has consistently and falsely claimed these attacks were mandated by UN Resolution 688, passed after the Gulf War, which called for an end to the Iraqi government's repression in the Kurdish north and the Shiite south. Von Sponeck dismissed this justification as a "total misnomer." In an interview with The Nation, Von Sponeck said that the new information "belatedly confirms" what he has long argued: "The no-fly zones had little to do with protecting ethnic and religious groups from Saddam Hussein's brutality" but were in fact an "illegal establishment...for bilateral interests of the US and the UK."

As for the Kurd gassing, I gave you this:

The CIA's website still lists "hundreds", not thousands or tens of thousands, and as being "caught in cross-fire between Iranians and Iraqi forces". We call that "collateral damage".

If you want another source, here ya go:

A War Crime or an Act of War?

By Stephen C. Pelletiere
The New York Times
Jan. 31, 2003

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. – It was no surprise that President Bush, lacking smoking-gun evidence of Iraq's weapons programs, used his State of the Union address to re-emphasize the moral case for an invasion: "The dictator who is assembling the world's most dangerous weapons has already used them on whole villages, leaving thousands of his own citizens dead, blind or disfigured."

The accusation that Iraq has used chemical weapons against its citizens is a familiar part of the debate. The piece of hard evidence most frequently brought up concerns the gassing of Iraqi Kurds at the town of Halabja in March 1988, near the end of the eight-year Iran-Iraq war. President Bush himself has cited Iraq's "gassing its own people," specifically at Halabja, as a reason to topple Saddam Hussein.

But the truth is, all we know for certain is that Kurds were bombarded with poison gas that day at Halabja. We cannot say with any certainty that Iraqi chemical weapons killed the Kurds. This is not the only distortion in the Halabja story.

I am in a position to know because, as the Central Intelligence Agency's senior political analyst on Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, and as a professor at the Army War College from 1988 to 2000, I was privy to much of the classified material that flowed through Washington having to do with the Persian Gulf ...

I'm sure you can find the rest yourself. He says

immediately after the battle the United States Defense Intelligence Agency investigated and produced a classified report, which it circulated within the intelligence community on a need-to-know basis. That study asserted that it was Iranian gas that killed the Kurds, not Iraqi gas.

The agency did find that each side used gas against the other in the battle around Halabja. The condition of the dead Kurds' bodies, however, indicated they had been killed with a blood agent – that is, a cyanide-based gas – which Iran was known to use. The Iraqis, who are thought to have used mustard gas in the battle, are not known to have possessed blood agents at the time.

BTW, I'm not a Democrat, Kerry or Gore supporter, or anything else along those lines.

I'm not American, and I don't live in the US. :)
And you'll have to excuse me, 'cos I may not be back.
I came across this post via a "Google alert".

As you can see, your quote, "The Iraqis, who are thought to have used mustard gas in the battle, are not known to have possessed blood agents at the time. " is invalidated by the CIA link that confirms the use of Mustard Gas by Iraq NINE TIMES.

By Stephen C. Pelletiere lied to you. Your own link proves it. Here is a short list from your link...

Documented Iraqi Use of Chemical Weapons

Aug 1983
Hajj Umran
fewer than 100

Oct-Nov 1983

Feb-Mar 1984
Majnoon Island

Mar 1984
50 to 100

Mar 1985
Hawizah Marsh

Feb 1986
8,000 to 10,000

Dec 1986
Umm ar Rasas

Apr 1987

Oct 1987
Mustard/nerve agents

Mar 1988
Mustard/nerve agents

Again from the same site: I will note - your link was for Chemical Warfare, not Genocide...

CW attacks against Iran increased until the conclusion of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988. In addition, Iraq used both CW and riot control agents against its own Kurdish population on several occasions during this time frame, including the infamous March 1988 attack on Halabja in which press reports claim 5,000 civilians died.

In black and white people.

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