Treatment of “Subversives” in Iraq and America

The United States and other nations are heavily criticizing Saddam Hussein and his regime for past and present history of dealing with armed insurgents. Presumably, Hussein is supposed to reach out and negotiate with disaffected groups in Iraq who reject his rule. Presumably, subversion in Iraq is not a crime, but a birthright of the Iraqi people, and no harm should ever come to Iraqi subversives, even if they take up arms against the central government.

In the modern history of America, there have been organizations of citizens for the purpose of self-protection from corrupt police and government institutions. Examples from the past few decades would include the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement. Neither of these groups ever formally advocated armed overthrow of the central government of the nation, but both groups promoted armed self-defense of their members from police brutality and institutional crimes. Both organizations were labeled as “subversive” nonetheless by the central government and, in particular, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) under J. Edgar Hoover and his successors engaged in organized and often secret programs to “neutralize” these movements.

Among the documentation of Federal efforts to stymie, neutralize or even assassinate members and leaders of these groups, author Ward Churchill has published books such as “Agents of Repression” and “The Cointelpro Files”. “Cointelpro” was a Federal program (since made illegal but suspected to still be illegally carried out) in which all sorts of efforts were made to confuse suspected “subversives” and limit their ability to carry out their programs and reach their goals. Among the tactics used were production and transmittal of counterfeit documents including counterfeit communications between organization members and leaders to sow distrust and suspicion. Agent Provocateurs (undercover FBI agents) joined these movements and sometimes loudly advocated violence, often despite organization protocols against such, resulting in opportunities for the government to persecute and even prosecute the organizations for crimes committed by government agents that had penetrated the groups.

Harassment by law enforcement agencies became routine, including the use of false arrests and imprisonment to force the groups to expend scarce resources in trials and public defense against accusations the government knew were false. Geronimo Pratt, a Black Panther who happened to be a Vietnam War hero with the U.S. army before working with the Panthers, spent well over 25 years in prison, with over 8 years spent in solitary confinement, for a murder the government knew he did not commit.

The most severe punishment for so-called “subversives” was assassination, which happened a number of times.

In short, if the U.S. government labels you as a “subversive” they make your life a living hell, if they do not kill you outright. The same is essentially true of the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein.

At present, the U.S. military praises Iraqi citizens who rise in armed rebellion against the sovereign government of Iraq. There is no reason to believe that armed rebellion against the sovereign government of the United States of America would be treated any differently by the U.S. government than Iraq treats its rebels.

The only difference is that the U.S. is considered “civilized” and Iraq, particularly the central government, is considered evil and worthy of regime change.

The writer is a member of several falconry and ornithological clubs and organizations. He contributed above article to Media Monitors Network (MMN) from California, USA.