Kissed off

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When the ridiculous becomes reality, satire is superfluous. That’s the hard lesson being swallowed here at News Hits, which last week attempted to put in context just how bizarre it was for the Bush administration to consider a serial despoiler like John Engler for appointment to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s top spot. Among other things, we said it was like electing David Duke to lead the NAACP. Equally surreal would have been the prospect of designating former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to expose secrets at the FBI and CIA. But that is exactly what happened, with the Bushman announcing that Big Henry would lead an inquiry into last year’s terrorist attacks.

The appointment is beyond belief on a number of fronts. For starters, there are the strong ties that exist between Kissinger, who now heads an international consulting firm, and potential targets of his investigation. As journalist Christopher Hitchens points out in a posting on the Web zine Slate, “We already know quite a lot … about who was behind the attacks. Most notable in incubating al Qaida were the rotten client-state regimes of the Saudi Arabian oligarchy and the Pakistani military and police elite. Henry Kissinger is now, and always has been, an errand boy and apologist for such regimes.”

But conflict of interest is only the jumping-off point for outrage.

Hell, Kissinger wrote the code book on government secrecy, from concealing the bombings of Cambodia and Laos during the Vietnam War to the CIA’s role in overthrowing Chile’s democratically elected government in the early 1970s. No one knows all this better than Hitchens, who penned a strong case for trying Kissinger as a war criminal. That Special K’s legal liabilities now prevent him from visiting a variety of countries, including France, where subpoenas are waiting, should be enough to shame even the most brazen right-wingers.

Although long viewed as a stalwart leftist, Hitchens proved true to his contrarian core by separating from hard-line liberals and supporting Bush’s bellicose tack in the so-called war on terrorism. So his criticism is anything but knee-jerk. It is, however, visceral.

“There is a tendency, some of it paranoid and disreputable, for the citizens of other countries and cultures to regard President Bush’s ‘war on terror’ as opportunist and even as contrived,” writes Hitchens. “I myself don’t take any stock in such propaganda. But can Congress and the media be expected to swallow the appointment of a proven cover-up artist, a discredited historian, a busted liar, and a man who is wanted in many jurisdictions for the vilest of offenses? The shame of this, and the open contempt for the families of our victims, ought to be the cause of a storm of protest.”

Ah, yes, protest. For those of you who think that Kissinger’s appointment is not just an aberration, but rather a symptom of the Bush administration’s base motives (Can you say Big Oil?) in its push toward war in Iraq, there is an event this Saturday at Wayne State University you will want to check out. A statewide conference of anti-war organizers, the event will feature such speakers as Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, as well as workshops covering such areas as organizing on campus and working with the media. For more information phone 313-831-0750 or visit the Web site Send comments to [email protected]

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