Thursday, January 06, 2005

Spared, by the Grace of God 

Our indefatigable colleagues at Cursor alerted us to an excellent, wide-ranging essay by Tom Engelhardt, who discusses the Gonzales nomination, the process by which the Bush administration came to indulge its unmistakable taste for torture, and the apparently tsunami-proof outpost of Diego Garcia -- one of those tiny, picturesque islands to which the CIA whisks you in its secret Gulfstream V when you are an itelligence target of sufficient value to merit "extraordinary rendition":
Only one small spot in the vast Indian Ocean basin "seems to have received full advanced warning of the waves to come -- the ostensibly British island of Diego Garcia, which is actually a sizeable U.S. military base, a stationary "aircraft carrier" for the war in Iraq. It also houses "Camp Justice," one of the secret little hideaway resorts the administration has set up, or contracted out for, on prime global real estate to hold "high value" prisoners in the war on terror. The camp, named by someone who must have had a yen for the Orwellian, is part of an offshore Bermuda Triangle of injustice set up by the Bush administration -- two interlinked prison systems, in fact; one run by the Pentagon and the other by the CIA, both meant to keep prisoners and practices far from the prying eyes of the American public and its court system; both, as it now turns out, anchored in that jewel-in-the-crown, Guantanamo (or Gitmo to devotees) -- a grim prison camp set up on territory in Cuba that is close at hand, U.S.-controlled, and yet -- or so Bush officials hoped until the Supreme Court ruled otherwise last year -- beyond the reach of our courts . . . .

We only know what the military tells us -- no damage -- about the effects of the tsunami on that very low-lying island, only on average 4 feet above sea level, but that's not so odd. The island has been a blacked-out area, a zone of silence in the Indian Ocean ever since, to oblige us Yanks,
the Brits shipped all the Diego Garcians off into misery and poverty on the island of Mauritius, clearing the decks for us.

In normal Internet fashion, some on the Web quickly concluded that there was something deeply conspiratorial about Diego Garcia alone getting the tsunami news in a prompt fashion. But the reason was simple: Unlike the governments of South Asia, the Pentagon was keyed into scientific early warning networks, as it is now keyed into just about everything that matters on this planet. The Pentagon is increasingly like that famed creation of 1950s sci-fi,
the Blob; an alien life form capable of absorbing anything that crosses its path. It has swallowed, for instance, many of the functions of the State Department and, having divided the globe into 5 commands (the latest being -- gulp -- Northcom, which means us) and with the heavens tossed in as well (Spacecom), its top commanders now travel the world like planetary plenipotentiaries . . . .

The military has become not just our war-fighting and occupying force, but our main "nation-building" force, our major diplomatic force (now that military-to-military relations have become the essence of foreign policy), our preponderant intelligence force, a major propaganda outfit (or call it public diplomacy, if you will), our central ministry for advanced R&D research and basic science, the only part of the government seriously preparing for a global-warming world, and our planetary rescue outfit as well -- to name just a few of its roles. With more clearly to come.
UPDATE: Kudos to our distinguished colleague Rorschach for snagging this depressing item about an Australian detainee at Gitmo who has already been "extraordinarily rendered" once, to Egypt, and is now filing suit to prevent it from happening again.

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