Charles Pierce of Esquire highlights two obscene things the US government did during the previous administration (although, for a change, one of them wasn’t clearly tied to the previous president).
First, the one we already knew something about:
There was only one story worth coverage in our politics as the week began. The story was that, for four years, the United States of America, the world’s oldest democracy, was governed by monsters, and that a substantial portion of the population seems to want some of the monsters back. These were death-dealing scum who dealt death on their own people and then, having dealt death far and wide for their own cheap political purposes, they covered up what they did, also for their own cheap political purposes. I have no illusions about what other American administrations have done. Nobody my age does. But there’s an element of penny-ante nihilism behind the events of 2017-2021 that make the death dealt by that administration* look more casual and, therefore, infinitely more cruel.
Politico looked through emails and documents released by the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis and found a stunning amount of evidence that arraigns the previous administration* for its moral responsibility in hundreds of thousands of deaths.
The emails and transcripts detail how in the early days of 2020 Trump and his allies in the White House blocked media briefings and interviews with CDC officials, attempted to alter public safety guidance normally cleared by the agency and instructed agency officials to destroy evidence that might be construed as political interference. The documents further underscore how Trump appointees tried to undermine the work of scientists and career staff at the CDC to control the administration’s messaging on the spread of the virus and the dangers of transmission and infection.
The previous administration* gagged its own scientists, buried its own reports, bullied its own agencies, soft-pedaled its own data, and created its own reality to sell to the country, all at a crucial time when the pandemic could have been fought seriously and at least partly arrested. . . .
One particularly egregious example involves the country’s meatpacking industry, which was slammed by the pandemic early on. The workers in that industry were largely poor, many of them were of questionable immigration status, and those circumstances made them vulnerable to being forced into dangerous conditions by their employers. This made some people curious as to why the Centers for Disease Control were not sending out specific guidance to that specific industry.
In an April 2020 email released by the committee Friday, then-Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought emailed Redfield, raising questions about why the CDC was not planning to send public health guidance on meatpacking plants through the White House. At the time, the White House was at odds with CDC about what steps meatpacking plants should take to protect workers from contracting Covid-19. The virus had infected several plants in the Midwest, causing disruptions to workflow.
Also disruptions to some workers’ lifeflows, by making them dead. . . .
The sheer contempt for active national leadership and the sheer disregard for the public health illustrated by this material has no parallel in American history. For the sake of their own public image—which, ironically, was headed for the storm drain anyway—members of the administration* abandoned even their most rudimentary obligations as public servants. The country was denied the information it desperately needed because some time-servers and coat-holders were trying to avoid a tantrum from the Oval Office. We are lucky we survived this long.
Second, the one we didn’t hear about until now:
The New York Times reported on a special operation in Syria from 2019 in which an American F-15 dropped a 500-pound bomb on a crowd of women and children, despite the fact that there was a drone with eyes on the crowd at the time.
“Who dropped that?” a confused analyst typed on a secure chat system being used by those monitoring the drone, two people who reviewed the chat log recalled. Another responded, “We just dropped on 50 women and children.”
The Baghuz strike was one of the largest civilian casualty incidents of the war against the Islamic State, but it has never been publicly acknowledged by the U.S. military. The details, reported here for the first time, show that the death toll was almost immediately apparent to military officials. A legal officer flagged the strike as a possible war crime that required an investigation. But at nearly every step, the military made moves that concealed the catastrophic strike. The death toll was downplayed. Reports were delayed, sanitized and classified. United States-led coalition forces bulldozed the blast site. And top leaders were not notified.
The magnitude of the cover-up by the military should surprise nobody who was alive during the Vietnam catastrophe, although I admit the fact that CIA personnel were shocked by the bombing campaign’s disregard for civilian casualties, a disregard that reached its peak in the 2019 incident, is an interesting twist in this story. . . . This kind of thing is what happens when you make war in a place. You cannot avoid it. But many people in charge of that effort will move heaven and earth to keep that simple truth from the people paying the bills.
Coalition forces overran the camp that day and defeated the Islamic State a few days later. The years long air war was hailed as a triumph. The commander of the operations center in Qatar authorized all personnel to have four drinks at the base bar, lifting the normal three-drink limit. Civilian observers who came to the area of the strike the next day found piles of dead women and children. The human rights organization Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently posted photos of the bodies, calling it a “terrible massacre.”
Satellite images from four days later show the sheltered bank and area around it, which were in the control of the coalition, appeared to have been bulldozed. David Eubank, a former U.S. Army Special Forces soldier who now runs the humanitarian organization Free Burma Rangers, walked through the area about a week later. “The place had been pulverized by airstrikes,” he said in an interview. “There was a lot of freshly bulldozed earth and the stink of bodies underneath, a lot of bodies.”
Stonewalls went up throughout the military bureaucracy. A non-event was being created out of the bombing and its devastating results. There are some stories about what it does, and the inevitable savagery that is the result, that the military won’t even tell itself.
And “a substantial portion of the population [wants] some of the monsters back”.