Regular readers of The Family Circus  comic strip will be familiar with the character known as Not Me. Not Me is not, as one might expect, an actual human character but rather a ghostly figure who turns up whenever one of the children is being accused of, say, drawing on the walls or slamming the door. When asked, 'Who drew this picture on the wall?' the child says, 'Not me,' and sure enough, there is our old friend, Not Me, grinning mischievously, with a crayon in hand.
Lately, it seems, Not Me has graduated from the comics page to the front page, for he has been showing up in the highest offices in countries around the world. Even though no weapons of mass destruction or al-Qaeda connections have been unearthed in Iraq, for example, when asked, 'Who is responsible for misleading so many people into believing such things existed?', world leaders have pointed to our poltergeist pal. Not surprisingly, their respective governments, controlled by their own political parties, have agreed: British Prime Minister Tony Blair , Australian P.M. John Howard , and U.S. President George W. Bush , the ringleader of this criminal gang, have all been declared not guilty of deceiving their respective citizenries about the dangers posed by Saddam Hussein (although, in Bush's case, the Senate Intelligence Committee did not so much declare him innocent as simply put off considering the matter at all until after the election ). These poor souls were mere dupes of their intelligence agencies, who mistakenly believed in all this stuff, too, implying that Not Me was hard at work at the CIA and both British and Australian Intelligence. (Why these people should get a pass on this issue when millions of others outside the halls of power, with nothing more than an Internet connection, could determine that the WMD and al-Qaeda claims were bogus is beyond the ken of this author.)
Still, we are supposed to 'move on,' forgetting all the lies'er, honest mistakes'that got us into this mess in Iraq, and instead concentrate on the great liberation of the Iraqi people, in which they have been transformed from cringing, cowering subjects of an evil dictator into the smiling, happy citizens of a free republic headed by an elected'er, U.S.-appointed'prime minister, enjoying the many freedoms that we here in the good old U.S. of A. enjoy. Let us therefore attempt this approach and see how it turns out.
We are told, for one thing, that Saddam Hussein used to kill his people en masse just because they didn't like his aftershave. Fortunately, the Iraqis have been freed from this kind of tyranny. In the month since the so-called transfer of sovereignty to the CIA's old buddy, Iyad Allawi, nearly '1,000 Iraqi civilians and security personnel have been killed or wounded in guerrilla attacks,' according to Brigadier General Erv Lessel , deputy director for operations for the U.S. military in Iraq . One doubts that Saddam made a habit of wiping out Iraqis at a rate of 1,000 per month; otherwise he would have been ruling a ghost country or, more likely, overthrown by angry subjects some years ago.
A war proponent might argue that this is an unfair comparison since those murdered in the last month were killed not by the government but by anti-government militants. (One might counter that the family of a dead man really doesn't give a hoot whether he was shot by Saddam or blown up by guerrillas, but we'll leave that aside for now and attack the 'unfair comparison' argument.) The U.S. puppet ruler, Allawi, appears to have 'pulled a pistol and executed as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad police station, just days before Washington handed control of the country to his interim government,' according to this report by Paul McGeough  in the Sydney Morning Herald. Although Allawi, naturally, denies this accusation, McGeough has corroboration of the story from independent witnesses, some of whom even approved of the action. Such a move by Allawi would not be surprising in the least given his past as a CIA asset  who participated in several attempts to overthrow Saddam Hussein, all of which failed miserably to kill or even weaken Saddam but may have succeeded beautifully in offing ordinary Iraqis.
However, a war proponent might still counter that this took place before Allawi took office, so let's consider what has happened since he took over.
First of all, within ten days of taking office, Allawi signed a bill that gave him the power to declare martial law in all or part of Iraq , in turn granting him vast powers. According to the Christian Science Monitor , if martial law is declared, under this law Allawi has the power to:
' 'Take command over all police, intelligence, army, and other security forces in that area.
' 'Create special civilian courts for people accused of major crimes'anything from murder, rape, and kidnapping to destroying government property'if the criminal courts are swamped.
' 'Appoint civilian or military administrators in areas under martial rule.
' 'Release any defendant from custody, if Allawi deems it necessary for reasons of security.
' 'Monitor and restrict mail, telegrams, and wireless communications in affected areas.
' 'Freeze the assets of anybody accused of crimes that undermine national security, as well as those who are accused of providing shelter, funding, and assistance to suspected insurgents.'
Oh, by the way, while the 'emergency' law does require the approval of some other members of the government for Allawi to declare martial law, there's 'no mention of the cabinet or the president having the ability to rescind the law.' In other words, Allawi can essentially become dictator for life. Now that sounds like freedom to me!
Another newfound freedom that the Iraqis are supposedly enjoying is the freedom to speak out against their new government without fear of reprisal, which was not the case under the former evil dictator. Or are they? Just this week it was announced  that Allawi 'has established a media committee to impose restrictions on print and broadcast media.' Among the primary restrictions will be the prohibition of 'unwarranted criticism of the prime minister,' who will, of course, be the one who decides what criticism is 'unwarranted.' Apparently he has already determined that a sermon in which Moqtada al-Sadr referred to him, quite accurately, as ' America 's 'tail'' falls under the rubric of 'unwarranted criticism' because the head of the media commission said that '[o]utlets that broadcast the sermon could be banned.' That's right: Not just the sermon itself could be banned, which is bad enough, but the media outlets that broadcast the sermon could be banned outright. At least the commission head was helpful enough to explain that this is not being done to restrict freedom but to 'fight the terrorists' and protect 'national security.' The puppet masters in Washington have taught their marionettes well.
Meanwhile, according to Newsday ,
The Intelligence Service has its own secret prison. Criminals wear uniforms and collect police salaries. Senior security officials hand out jobs to family members. Investigators charged with being watchdogs over the police say they have little or no power. They report to the interior minister rather than to justice itself. The police arrest the innocent, beat them, and imprison them without charge; and in at least one case, police shot dead an innocent bystander. This is not Saddam Hussein's corrupt police state. This is the new Iraq run by interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, the man the international community is hoping will shepherd Iraqi democracy into being early next year. There are so many corrupt, violent and useless police officers in the new Iraqi police force that, according to a senior American adviser to the Iraqi police, the U.S. government is about to pay off 30,000 police officers at a cost of $60 million to the American taxpayer. [Emphasis mine.]
A recent demonstration of this abuse of police power took place in a neighborhood in Baghdad , where, in response to the shooting of two police officers, the Iraqi general in charge of the police ordered the confiscation of every single gun in the neighborhood. The U.S. Army kindly assisted in this violation of private property rights, cordoning off the area to be pillaged by the police. (Odd, isn't it, that the evil dictator Saddam Hussein felt comfortable allowing his citizens to be armed to the teeth, but the 'liberators' live in fear of a gun-toting populace?) Once again we see that Iraqis have roughly the same freedoms we Americans do; the very same thing happened in Oshkosh, Wisconsin , in recent days as well.
These are, of course, just a few examples of the wonderful freedoms in which the people of the newly liberated Iraq are basking. Let us not forget, too, that liquor store owners are being violently put out of business  by fundamentalist Muslims and that Christians are fleeing for their lives  from the onrushing Islamic state, whereas both groups of people were protected under the rule of the evil Saddam. How could anyone but the most extreme anti-American, left-wing kook deny that the Iraqis are freer and better off than they were under Saddam?
Yes, my friends, Iraq has become everything that all right-thinking patriots could want. It is ruled by a man with no compunction about killing innocent people'a man who restricts free speech in the name of national security and the war on terror, who determines who shall be arrested and who shall be given a trial, who can freeze the assets of anyone he decides is in any way connected with terrorists, and who may be able to delay or cancel elections in the interest of national security. Its police forces routinely terrorize and disarm its citizens. Christians and sellers of undesirable substances are persecuted. In short, Iraq is America .
With that in mind, I'd like a show of hands, please: All in favor of moving the Republican National Convention to Fallujah?
On second thought, perhaps the Iraqi people have suffered enough.