Tuesday, May 11, 2004

All Quiet on the Right-Wing Front

As I was wondering why the right had yet to launch a major counter-offensive in the politics of images, I happened on Bill Berkowitz's article:
For the Bush Administration, there may be one media opportunity left. Does "The Trial of Saddam Hussein" sound out of the question?

While Iraq's War Crimes Tribunal process -- created by the Coalition Provisional Authority in December -- is still in its nascent stages, the U.S. is looking to hasten it along. The main goal of the Iraqi-run tribunals is to put Saddam and his top associates on trial, but according to a Washington Post editorial, the Iraqis still "need rules of procedure and evidence, forensic experts to examine witnesses and mass graves, training for judges and access to Baath Party archives [and] none of these appear to be materializing quickly." ("The Spinning Grounds," April 14, 2004)
You'd think that the White House and its Iraqi allies would be trying to speed up the tribunal process like mad, but, on this subject, it's all eerily quiet on the right-wing front. Not only that, the Bush Team is even letting Saddam Hussein's lawyers score a point:
  • Saddam Hussein's attorneys are concerned about his welfare after seeing how some Iraqi prisoners were being treated by their U.S. guards, one of the lawyers said Monday.

    ``We are deeply concerned and worried about his security, how is he treated and how is he living,'' Mohammad Rashdan told The Associated Press. ``We are very worried.'' (Shafika Mattar, "Lawyer Worries for Saddam's Welfare," May 10, 2004)
  • Saddam Hussein's defense lawyers said Monday they had received no response from the U.S. administration in Iraq and the International Committee of the Red Cross to repeated requests to see their client.

    Lawyers representing the ousted leader also said they were ready to represent Iraqi prisoners abused by U.S. and British soldiers, whose pictures angered people around the world. (Dina Al Wakeel, "Saddam Lawyer Says Access to Client Denied," May 10, 2004)
It's all rather strange, especially considering the fact that the right have useful video images in their possession, which they could be recycling now endlessly: e.g., "A grisly videotape showing acts of torture carried out by Iraqi Republican Guard and Saddam Fedayeen militiamen" was "declassified and obtained by Fox News" ("Videotape Shows Saddam's Men Torturing Iraqis," October 31, 2003); and "A gruesome videotape found in April by U.S. troops in Iraq allegedly shows the brutal punishment administered by the Fedayeen Saddam to enforce discipline under the regime of Saddam Hussein. . . . On the tape, what appear to be Fedayeen Saddam members and Republican Guard troops are shown administering cruel punishments, including chopping off fingers, cutting off tongues, breaking a wrist with a heavy stick, and throwing people off a multi-story building. Also depicted is a beheading by sword, which takes several attempts to complete ("Gruesome Videotape Allegedly Shows Brutal Fedayeen Saddam Punishment," October 30, 200). Are the right too demoralized to regain a propaganda initiative? That's hard to believe. Dissensions in the right-wing camp preventing them from making a coherent and coordinated response? Possibly. The White House and the right-wing media saving up all the ammunitions for use later in the presidential election campaign? That would be unwise. Or do Saddam Hussein's remaining family and lawyers have documents and visual evidence that they can release (e.g. a video showing a CIA operative present at a scene of rape, torture, or execution committed by Saddam Hussein's underlings) at a moment's notice to embarrass the Bush team even more???

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