The plot thickens
The story from the other day about the supposed Iranian garment law that required non-Muslims to identify themselves gets more and more interesting.
According to Taylor Marsh's site, the article was written by one Amir Taheri, and the trail seems to dead-end there. Interestingly enough, Taheri is a member of a group named Benador Associates, whose membership also includes neo-con notables such as David Gelernter, Victor Davis Hanson, Charles Krauthammer, Michael A. Ledeen, Laurie Mylroie, Richard Perle, Richard Pipes, and Natan Sharansky, but the one name that especially jumped out at me was Arnaud de Borchgrave.
De Borchgrave, interestingly enough, was the one who evidently started the story that was so popular back in 2003 or so, the one about Iraqi "people shredders" related by one "Kenneth Joseph", who evidently doesn't exist.
On March 21, veteran right-wing journalist Arnaud de Borchgrave, Paris Bureau Chief for Newsweek for 23 years, and now United Press International (UPI) Editor at Large, wrote from the International Desk in Amman Jordan that "a group of American anti-war demonstrators who came to Iraq with Japanese human shield volunteers made it across the border today with 14 hours of uncensored video", and that Kenneth Joseph, a young American pastor with the Assyrian Church of the East, told UPI the trip "had shocked me back to reality'".
"[Rev. Joseph] said that his talks with Iraqis convinced him that Saddam is "a monster the likes of which the world had not seen since Stalin and Hitler. . . Their tales of slow torture and killing made me ill, such as people put in a huge shredder for plastic products, feet first so [the torture masters] could hear the screams as bodies got chewed up from foot to head."
Well, pro-war British Labor MP Ann Clwyd got ahold of the story, and from there it just kept going:
This is one of the many witness statements that were taken by researchers from Indict — the organisation I chair — to provide evidence for legal cases against specific Iraqi individuals for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. This account was taken in the past two weeks.
Web sites such as LGF and Free Republic picked up on the story and ran with it - and it became one of the many justifications on the Right for the invasion & "liberation" of Iraq.
This is but the tip of the iceberg. Yet too many don't want to know about it because it isn't happening to them. It's just like the number of people who have forgotten about 9/11/01 or pretend it never happened and that Saddam wasn't directly or indirectly involved. (from "Free" Republic - no link, they don't deserve one)(And BTW - pretend 9/11 NEVER HAPPENED? WTF?)
I was following this story myself for quite a while as it just seemed to convienently over-the-top to me; kind of a Grand Guignol attempt to paint everyone who wasn't supportive of the war as a defender of such atrocities.
One invasion & occupation later, and the "people shredders" are nowhere to be seen. An article in 2004 by Brendan O'Neill in the Spectator in Britain indictated just how content-free the horror story actually was:
What was done to corroborate the Iraqi’s claims? Apparently nothing. Indict refuses to tell me the names of the researchers who were in Iraq with Mahon and Clwyd; and, I am told, Mahon, who no longer works at Indict, ‘does not want to speak to journalists about his work with us’. But Clwyd tells me: ‘We heard it from a victim; we heard it and we believed it.’ So nothing was done to check the truth of what the victim said, against other witness statements or other evidence for a shredding machine? ‘Well, no,’ says Clwyd. ‘[Indict researchers] didn’t have to do that; they were just taking witness statements.’
But surely, before going public with so shocking a story, facts ought to have been checked and double-checked? Clwyd clearly doesn’t think so. ‘We heard it from someone who had been released from the Abu Ghraib prison....I heard his account of what went on in the prison. I was there when [Indict’s] cross-examination of the witness took place, and I am satisfied from what I heard that shredding was a method of execution. We knew he wasn’t making it up.’
Note where the shredders were supposedly located - Abu Ghraib. Gosh, I seem to have heard that name... somewhere before...
Anyway, the story, though disproved, continued to shamble lich-like around the Right-wing blogosphere:
Saddam simply ensured their loyalty through the twin policies of enriching them with land and oil-for-food dollars (Thanks, Kofi!!!!!) while simultaneously making it known that any dissent would be met with a feet-first date with a plastic shredder. --"Countercolumn", July 2004
I look forward to crying my eyes out when I read about how poor ole saddam had his enimies assasinated with a bullet in the back of the head, or the ones he killed that he really didn't like, and he fed feet first into the industrial plastic shredder. --"Free" Republic, May 2005
As far as whether Bush's strategy has paid off for the Iraqi people, at least they don't have to worry about being fed through a plastic shredder (feet first, of course) by one of Saddam's psychotic kids. Some people would count that a plus. --February 2006
There was a machine designed for shredding plastic. Men were dropped into it and we were again made to watch. --From the INDICT web site, still there even as of today
Simple. From what I've heard, the most gruesome way his sons killed people was shoving them through a plastic shredder. If they liked you, they went head-first. --here, March 2006
Now, in the interest of truth, there is ONE reference on the Internet (using Google) to the discovery of these mythical people shredders, from an article about one "Michael Paterson":
At the ruins of Babylon, Paterson and his unit discovered a similar shredder used for torture and execution in a palace frequented by Uday Hussein.
Funny thing is, this is the ONLY reference I can find to "Navy Reserve" officer "Michael Paterson", and the ONLY reference I can find to such a discovery. Which indicates to me, anyway, there's nothing to this story. (Why it was published - well, who knows?)
In closing, it seems to me the lil' elves of Benador Associates may have well concocted yet another oh-so-convenient falsehood to motivate people into supporting yet another war. Those who remember the false "babies thrown out of incubators" story which helped to justify the attack on Iraq in 1991 will not be suprised that, like Hill & Knowlton in 1991, Benador is yet another PR firm.
Seems we never learn, sometimes.