The Hightower Report

Turning Cookies Into Armor; and A Regime of Injustice


TURNING COOKIES INTO ARMOR

George "Flimflam" Bush is back with his traveling medicine show, trying yet again to sell us that old elixir he calls the "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq."

In his current sales pitch, Bush insists that America must not lose its nerve in Iraq. However, this war is not about nerve – it's about people dying for a pack of lies. Of course, no one in Bush's family has his or her life at risk in George's war, but other families are not so fortunate, with their loved ones facing bombs, bullets, and death every day. They want to know how Bush has the nerve to talk about staying the course when he still – still! – has not provided all of our troops with the armor needed to help them stay alive.

One angry family member is Tammara Rosenleaf, who has launched a grassroots campaign called Bake Sales for Body Armor. Tammara's husband, Sean, is fighting in Iraq, and she was both shocked and outraged to learn that he had been deployed without adequate armor. He finally got properly outfitted, but Tammara wanted to make sure that all soldiers are protected. "[The Bake Sale Project] is what I decided to do about it," she says.

Backed by Veterans for Peace, Rosenleaf and a hardy crew of volunteers are literally holding bake sales around the country, offering cookies, cakes, and other goodies. They also hold virtual "bake sales" online. All of the money they raise is spent on body armor, medical supplies, and other gear that they then ship to soldiers.

Bush's Pentagon has not been nice about Tammara's group, assailing them as "ludicrous," and mockingly saying their shipments to Iraq troops are only helping puff up the profits of the U.S. post office.

What's truly ridiculous is that our $500-billion-a-year Pentagon has to be supplemented by bake sales. To learn how you can hold a bake sale, make a donation, or sign up a soldier to receive gear, go to www.bakesalesforbodyarmor.org.


A REGIME OF INJUSTICE

The Bush-Cheney regime asserts that the hundreds of captives it has stashed in the military prisons of Guantánamo Bay have no legal rights because "these people are terrorists." Donnie Rumsfeld proclaimed the Gitmo prisoners to be "the worst of the worst."

So, nearly 500 of them are still there, not by the authority of law, but by the autocratic dictate of Bush's imperial presidency. Swept up four years ago, the prisoners are being held indefinitely, with practically no access to lawyers and with no right to appeal their incarceration. It violates the U.S. Constitution and international law – but, what the hell, they're terrorists, right?

Well, some are, but it's now been revealed that a shameful number of these disappeared ones have no connection whatsoever to terrorism. The Bushites know this but still hold them.

Take Abdur Sayed Rahman, a Pakistani villager who was taken from his small farm in 2002 and dumped into Guantánamo, accused of having been the deputy foreign minister of the deposed Taliban government. That Taliban official, however, is named Abdur Zahid Rahman. This poor captive, who's been kept locked up for four years, says, "I am only a chicken farmer in Pakistan."

Then there's an Afghan who denies being the former Taliban governor of a province there. He asked military officials at Guantánamo to contact the current governor of that province to verify his innocence. In a grotesque example of catch-22, however, the military said it's up to the prisoner to produce such evidence. Excuse me, said the Afghan, but I'm held incommunicado in a U.S. cell in Cuba and not allowed to make calls. To which our military official said, "Write to them." He then ruled that the Afghan could not have his case reviewed for another year.

By suspending the rule of law, the Bushites have become a regime of injustice. Remember, this is being done in our name – in the name of America.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit www.jimhightower.com. You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

Got something to say? The Chronicle welcomes opinion pieces on any topic from the community. Submit yours now at austinchronicle.com/opinion.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle