Monday, January 30, 2006

We Have Met the Enemy and He is us

For those of you who are my age or older you may remember a comic strip called “Pogo.” Pogo was authored by Walt Kelly who was one of the first to use a comic strip to fight the enemies of free speech and open government. During the McCarthy era he had a famous piece in which Pogo was trying to define just what seemed to be wrong with America. Finally he came to the conclusion that, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

I was thinking about Pogo when I read an Associated Press story in our local paper about how the United Sates Army seized Iraqi wives in the hopes of “leveraging” their husbands into surrendering. In at least one case a secretive task force locked up a young mother of a nursing baby. Until I read this story I could not make sense of the kidnapping of the American journalist Jill Carroll and the demands of the kidnapers that unless all Iraqi women were freed they would kill her. I had no idea that we were resorting to such barbarous tactics to promote freedom in Iraq.

Not unexpectedly, a US command spokesman in Baghdad denied the jailing of women as hostages and claimed that only Iraqis who pose an “imperative threat” are in long-term US-run detention facilities. But, documents released under a court order to meet an ACLU request for information on detention practices reveal that the US has indeed been detaining wives of suspected terrorists as leverage to get them to surrender to US authorities.

It would appear that it is this practice which led the Iraqi militants to kidnap Jill Carroll. By engaging in an illegal and an immoral practice the United States has put in jeopardy the life of a US citizen. This is certainly no way to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. We are suppose to be the good guys; it turns out we are in the gutter with the rest of the terrorists. Yes, the enemy is us!

David M. Goldberg