Hypocrisy on parade

February 2, 2010 | By | 5 Replies More

“Corruption and hypocrisy ought not to be inevitable products of democracy, as they undoubtedly are today.”   — Gandhi

Perhaps you’ve heard about the American hikers being held in an Iranian prison?   A couple of Belgian bicyclists who were detained at the same prison have some updates on their situation:

“We’re deeply concerned for their well-being,” Van den Bosch and Falleur wrote in a news release. “The psychological stresses of detention were very great, especially during interrogation and solitary confinement.”

As of early December, when Van den Bosch and Falleur were released, the American hikers were being held in solitary confinement, a harrowing experience the Belgian men describe in detail.

“We were in cells with no outside contact and a ceiling light on day and night,” they wrote. “No communication was possible with other prisoners or with our families. Everything was designed to make us feel very lonely.”

Van den Bosch and Falleur added, “From our own experience, we can only imagine that the psychological pressure put on the hikers to confess to crimes they are innocent of is extremely intense. Their feeling of loneliness must be extreme.”

Yes, no doubt the psychological pressures one must face in those sorts of situations must be intense.  Not as intense as the pressures innocent Muslims face in America’s torture prisons and secret black-ops sites, but extreme in any case!  Physically they seem to be doing fine:

The Belgians’ account provides much-sought-after insight for the hikers’ families and the U.S. government, which last heard of the Americans’ condition in October, when a Swiss diplomat who was allowed to visit them reported they were in “good physical condition.”

Van den Bosch told ABC News that while one hiker he observed appeared depressed, “he did not look thin. We were well fed, well treated. We were not badly treated physically.”

That’s in contrast to how America treats its detainees, where torture is more commonplace.  Iran says the hikers are guilty of espionage, the State Department says they are innocent.  In fact, check out this strongly worded answer given in a State Department press briefing last week:

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we obviously – it’s one of the reasons why we have been concerned about the welfare of the hikers since they crossed into Iran. It’s why we have demanded consular access repeatedly of the Iranian Government. And unfortunately, we have not had consular access through our protecting power in three months.

What that tells us is that our three American citizens are potentially in deplorable conditions. It is outrageous that Iran refuses to abide by international standards and international agreements in terms of treatment of those who are in their care. And we continue – we will continue to press the Iranian Government so that we can see for ourselves what the conditions of our citizens are.

Those Iranian monsters!  They are “potentially” (note the qualifier) keeping our citizens in deplorable conditions.  How dare they refuse to abide by international law “in terms of the treatment of those in their care”!?!?  Oops, nevermind, that’s also what America does. See here for how we’ve blocked the Red Cross from access to detainees in Guantanamo, and here for how we do the same thing at Bagram, in Afghanistan.  The latter article has this to say:

In a confidential memorandum last summer, the Red Cross said dozens of prisoners had been held incommunicado for weeks or even months in a previously undisclosed warren of isolation cells at Bagram, two American officials said. The Red Cross said the prisoners were kept from its inspectors and sometimes subjected to cruel treatment in violation of the Geneva Conventions, one of the officials said.

So, Mr. Crowley of the U.S. State Department, is it also “outrageous” when we refuse to abide by international standards and agreements?  It is acceptable that we hold our detainees in “deplorable conditions?”  I suppose it’s only “outrageous” when our enemies do it.  Mr. Crowley’s answer above was the only part quoted in the news that I’ve seen on the subject (see here and here for typical examples), but lets find out if he had anything else to say on the matter:

QUESTION: — Iran recently asked about whether there would be a reciprocal access to an Iranian who was in an American jail, and that TQ came out saying that the Iranians had, in fact, requested access. Do you know if access has since been granted?

MR. CROWLEY: I’ll take that question. I think there was access requested in one particular instance. I just don’t know the status.

So it appears that Iran is willing to give us access to our citizens in their jails, if we will give them access to their citizens in our jails.  Apparently the State Department is not sure of the status, but it seems fair enough to me.   What else can we learn?

QUESTION: So on Iran, there’s a report out today that the Iranians have asked the Swiss to, in turn, ask the United States to extradite members of a group – I think the group is called Tondar, T-o-n-d-a-r – and which is being blamed for the death of this Iranian scientist. What do you say?

MR. CROWLEY: I think allegations that a group in the United States is somehow responsible for an assassination in Iran is outrageous.

QUESTION: What? Really? There’s a bit of history here.

MR. CROWLEY: Yeah, I think —

QUESTION: I mean, let’s go back to the ‘50s.


You can almost hear the surprise in the questioner’s voice when Mr. Crowley calls the allegations of US involvement “outrageous”.  And then the topic mysteriously shifts to our relations with another member of the Axis of Evil– North Korea.  We never do get to find out the history of assassinations in Iran, or why they would think that we would be complicit in something like that.  It’s odd that none of this was reported in the news, it sure seems interesting to me!  Let’s review some of why Iran may think that we had a hand in this assassination.

First, perhaps they are still bothered by the CIA-financed and organized coup of their democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq in 1953.

Mosaddeq- former Prime Minister of Iran.  via Wikipedia

Mosaddeq- former Prime Minister of Iran. via Wikipedia

I think this must be the “bit of history” to which Mr. Crowley’s questioner was referring to.  We replaced Mossadeq with the brutal and authoritarian Shah, who ruled with an iron fist until the 1979 Iranian Revolution when he was replaced by the current leader, the anti-American Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini.  Oh, but this is the 2000’s– now we support a democratic Iran again, and we will for at least as long as the budding democrats are opposed to the current leadership.  We didn’t like a democratic Iran the first time, I guess because the people chose wrong or something.  You know how fickle those democracies are– the people seem to have a nasty habit of voting for representatives to serve their own interests, rather than the interests of the US.  Anyway, the last time we overthrew their government was over 50 years ago, maybe we should check for something more recent?

Maybe they are upset at how we supported actively encouraged Iraq in their war against Iran?    And do you want to know why George W. Bush was so sure Iraq had weapons of mass destruction?  It is because we gave Iraq the weapons. See here for the history of our exports of WMD to Iraq, including 14 separate agents “with biological warfare significance”, including anthrax.  Of course, that was when Iraq was still our ally, before they were our enemy.  “We’ve always been at war with Eastasia”

Then, there was the little matter of the Iran/Contra affair.  If you don’t recall, this was where the Reagan Administration circumvented legal restrictions in order to sell arms to Iran for the purpose of funding the Contra insurgency in Nicaragua.  As a part of the deal, we also negotiated the return of some hostages which Iran was holding.   Although this operation was not directed at harming Iran, it did give them a certain insight into the character of American presidents and its foreign policy establishment.

Maybe the Iranians think we’re responsible for this assassination because of our extensive history in assassinations and assassination attempts?    Perhaps you’ve heard of Dick Cheney’s “executive assassination ring”?  We’re perfectly open about our intent to assassinate alleged Afghan drug lords.  We routinely use our drones to assassinate alleged members of al-Qaeda, not to mention unlucky civilians in the area.  And if we’re willing to assassinate American citizens, Iran is probably right to conclude that we wouldn’t think twice about taking out one of their citizens.  We are adamantly opposed to “extrajudicial killings” (read:assassinations) when they are performed by other countries, but apparently we merit an exception.

I think Glenn Greenwald summed up the Iranian case best:

Although the Iranian government has issued a statement blaming the U.S. and Israel for this rather sophisticated and well-executed assassination, there is no actual evidence yet of who is responsible.  It’s possible that the killing is related to Iran’s complex internal conflicts rather than its nuclear program.  There is, however, ample evidence that the U.S. covertly provides various means of support to extremist groups which have previously carried out violent terrorist attacks inside Iran — which, in other contexts, is called being a “state sponsor of terror.”  In the very recent past, other Iranian nuclear scientists and officials have disappeared and ended up in the custody of the U.S. and its allies — either abducted or defected, depending on who you believe.

Whatever else is true, this murder of Professor Mohammadi is rather clearly an act of pure terrorism.  As Kevin Drum wrote of Reynolds’ proposal:

Killing civilian scientists and civilian leaders, even if you do it quietly, is unquestionably terrorism. That’s certainly what we’d consider it if Hezbollah fighters tried to kill cabinet undersecretaries and planted bombs at the homes of Los Alamos engineers. What’s more, if we took this tack against Iran, we’d be doing it for the same reason that terrorists target us: because it’s a more effective, more winnable tactic than conventional war.

Just as is true of our covert military actions in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, the extent of our involvement with Iranian extremist groups remains undiscussed by our Government, notwithstanding the numerous public, credible reports detailing some of it, including — as Seymour Hersh put it — “the Democratic leadership’s agreement [in 2007] to commit hundreds of millions of dollars for more secret operations in Iran.”  As Hersh wrote regarding a Presidential Finding signed by George Bush “designed to destabilize the country’s religious leadership,” which included “plans involving possible lethal action inside Iran”:

“The oversight process has not kept pace — it’s been co-opted” by the Administration, the person familiar with the contents of the Finding said. “The process is broken, and this is dangerous stuff we’re authorizing.”

Of course, there are those American apologists who are fine with a policy of extrajudicial assassination, especially if it’s aimed at preventing Iran from realizing their nuclear ambitions.  Someone should inform them that the Pentagon has determined that there is no evidence Iran is pursuing a nuclear program.   That same someone should also let Obama know, because he’s deploying a bunch of missiles and ships to the area to stop the same non-existent nuclear program.  We sure wouldn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea and think we were after the region’s oil wealth!  Come to think of it, oil played a large role the last time we overthrew the Iranian government– we overthrew Mossadeq after he nationalized the nation’s oil. Iran has the world’s third-largest proven reserves of oil, giving them control of some 10% of the world’s remaining supply.  Iran trails only Saudi Arabia and  Canada (who are probably safe from a US attack, at least for now) and ahead of Iraq (who we’ve already attacked).   But if there’s one thing we’ve learned from Iraq, it’s that scaremongering the WMD issue is a sure-fire way to get involved in a war.


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Category: Current Events, History, hypocrisy, The Middle East

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is a full-time wage slave and part-time philosopher, writing and living just outside Omaha with his lovely wife and two feline roommates.

Comments (5)

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    From Amy Goodman at DemocracyNow.org:

    "[A] new investigation by journalist Anand Gopal reveals some harrowing details about America’s secret prisons in Afghanistan, under both the Bush and Obama administrations. What emerges is a world that goes far beyond the main prison in Bagram and includes disappearances, night raids, hidden detention centers and torture. Gopal interviewed Afghans who were detained and abused at several disclosed and undisclosed sites at US and Afghan military bases across the country. He also reveals the existence of another secret prison on Bagram Air Base that even the Red Cross doesn’t have access to. It’s dubbed the Black Jail and reportedly is run by US Special Forces."


  2. Tim Hogan says:

    The Ayatollah Khomeini who was the leader of the Iranian Revolution died in 1989. It is unlikely he is the "current " leader of Iran.

  3. Brynn Jacobs says:


    Thanks, you're right.

  4. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    The first Supreme leader of Iran was Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Ruhollah Mousavi Khomeini.

    The current one is

    Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Hoseyni Khamenei

    similar names.

    Khameni succeeded Khomeni in 1989.

  5. Brynn Jacobs says:

    Jacob Hornberger today profiles another example of the hypocrisy involved in criticism of Iran:

    John Limbert, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for Iran, is asking the UN to investigate human-rights abuses in Iran by that country’s dictatorial regime. Ever since protests against Iran’s fraudulent presidential elections broke out, the Iranian dictators have been rounding up people, torturing and raping them, and even executing them.

    But I wonder if Limbert is going to seek the same type of inquiry with respect to his own government, which for years has engaged in a spree of kidnapping, torture, rendition, rape, sex abuse, indefinite detention, assassination, and execution.

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