Operation Iraqi “Freedom”
by Jacob G. Hornberger
The most important thing about Operation Iraqi Freedom is how it demonstrates how U.S. national-security state officials view the concept of freedom. In their minds, the 11 years of brutal occupation on the part of the U.S. military brought freedom to the Iraqi people. In fact, that mindset also pervades many Americans in the private sector, including veterans, who are absolutely convinced that the U.S. invasion, war of aggression, and occupation of Iraq brought freedom to Iraq.
Keep in mind that once U.S. military officials succeeded in effecting regime change in Iraq, they had carte blanche to establish any type of government they wanted as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Give that wide latitude, what type of government did U.S. officials establish in Iraq? They established what they considered was an ideal form of government, one that was consistent with their view of a free society.
The first thing they did was produce a governmental structure that is similar to the one that the United States has had since the late 1940s — one that has a gigantic military-intelligence establishment that wields the real power within the overall governmental structure. They then gave that branch of the government—the military-intelligence branch— the omnipotent power to arrest people without judicially issued warrants, torture them into confessing to crimes, and incarcerate them for as long as desired without trial by jury or due process of law.
That’s in fact the governmental system that exists in Iraq today. Again, keep in mind something important here: this is what U.S. national-security state officials, many military veterans who served in Iraq, and many American citizens who support the troops for their service in Iraq firmly believe constitutes a free society.
Ironically, the Iraqi people who have felt the brunt of this system don’t consider it a free society. They consider it the epitome of tyranny and injustice. And guess who they blame for this tyranny and injustice. You guessed it: They blame the U.S. government, whose national-security branch imposed this tyranny and injustice on Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Last month, the New York Times carried an article on this phenomenon that is worth reading from beginning to end.
The article details story after story of people who were grabbed by military officials and never seen again. One woman, Tawfika Abbas, stated, “The Iraqi Army took my son in March of 2014. I don’t know where he is. Zero information.” Another woman, Entisar Gannos, had her four sons taken away, one in 2006, one in 2010, and two since 2011; no court hearings have been held for any of them.
Consider this statement in the article:
At the core of the grievances of the Sunni community are practices adopted by the United States after the invasion in 2003: arbitrary arrests in the name of counterterrorism, the reliance on confidential informants rather than forensic evidence….
How big is the problem? No one really knows for sure but according to the Times, “officials and activists agreed that there were likely tens of thousands of Sunni men languishing in jails, having never seen the inside of a courtroom.” People are being incarcerated on the words of secret informers and also being tortured into making confessions. Some who are found innocent are required to pay bribes to get released.
Abu Zaid said that his brother was arrested; he later found his body in a Baghdad hospital. His son was sentenced to death after being tortured and forced to confess to setting off a car bomb. “There are thousands of stories similar to mine,” Zaid said.
Consider the words of Sheikh Abu Salem: “We blame the American administration for everything that has happened.”
They’re blaming the U.S. government for the governmental system that the U.S. national-security state established in Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. That’s the governmental system that U.S. officials steadfastly maintain has brought freedom to the Iraqi people.
Needless to say, the system that U.S. officials established in Iraq — the system they are convinced brought freedom to the Iraqi people — directly contravenes the type of system enacted by our American ancestors with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights — that is, a system in which there is no big permanent standing military establishment as part of America’s governmental structure — one in which there are no round-ups, arbitrary arrests, torture, and indefinite detention — and one in which there are long-established procedural rights for the accused, including due process of law, trial by jury, right to counsel, judicially issued warrants, and freedom from cruel and unusual punishments.
Heaven forbid that the Pentagon and the troops ever succeed in bringing Operation American Freedom to our country. Just ask the Iraqi people.