MEET AN AMERICAN WAR CRIMINAL By Wayne Madsen*
April 10, 2003 - Washington—In the euphoria over the U.S. conquest of Baghdad, people everywhere should be introduced to the major war criminals of the war.
Although, the Bush administration dearly wanted the Iraqis to use weapons of mass destruction to justify later claims of war crimes, no such weapons or attacks using them ever materialized. So the scene of parading Iraqi generals in front of tribunals may not have much of a legal basis.
Instead, the world witnessed a different kind of atrocity. US tanks opened fire on foreign TV and wire service offices that were already identified as "no fire" zones by the US Central Command. It did not matter. Tanks belonging to the US Army's Third Infantry Division destroyed media offices and killed and injured a number of journalists.
The man who ordered his tanks to open fire on the Baghdad offices of Al Jazeera, Abu Dhabi TV, and Reuters is Major General Buford "Buff" Blount III. Like his three bosses, General Tommy Franks, General Richard Myers, and George W. Bush, Blount is a native of Texas. After the war is over, Blount will return amid ruffles and flourishes to accolades from Bush administration officials and a doting media. It must never be forgotten what crimes Blount perpetrated on April 8 in Baghdad.
We should all know what kind of person Blount is. He is the top military officer in the Savannah, Georgia, region. His command includes Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield. Blount is a 1971 graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, the Hattiesburg college that did not integrate its student body until 1965, three years before Blount enrolled as a student and three years after the University of Mississippi was forced to admit its first black student. Blount's wife, Anita Barr, is also a native Mississippian. Hailing from Collins, Mississippi, she graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1970. "Buff" and Anita, who is a school teacher, have two children.
The Third Infantry Division commander comes from a politically-connected family. His father, Buford Blount II, is a former Air Force colonel who was once the deputy commander of Keesler Air Force Base, and is now mayor of Bassfield, Mississippi. General Blount's sister, Lisa, told the Jackson Clarion Ledger that she was worried about the lives of her brother's troops, however, the story made no mention of any concern for the lives of the civilians which they encountered. General Blount's uncle was also an Army general. He was Major General Dr. Robert E. Blount, who after his Army career became dean of the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.
Blount must have had a certain disdain for Al Jazeera, the independent Arab satellite news network that has been the bain of the Saudi Royal Family. Before assuming command of the Third Infantry Division, Blount was the program manager for the Saudi National Guard. Unlike the US National Guard, the Saudi Guardsmen are the shock troops for the Saudi royals. They are every much as committed to the Saudi princes as Iraq's Republican Guards were committed to Saddam Hussein. Blount undoubtedly sympathized with his Saudi benefactors when they disparaged Al Jazeera and its Qatari financial backers. There have been a number of heated exchanges between Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah and Qatar's Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani over the coverage of the Saudis by Al Jazeera.
Blount probably did not have to think twice about teaching Al Jazeera a lesson on behalf of his Saudi friends. For at the same time Blount lorded over the Saudi National Guard, he was also a top military adviser to Abdullah. Blount's connections to the Saudis and his disregard for the safety of Al Jazeera journalists may appear to be highly unprofessional. However, in considering that officers like Blount are merely modern-day mercenaries, acting on behalf of corrupt royal regimes, oil company interests, and neo-conservative political operatives, his actions in Baghdad are very understandable, painfully so.
So when the parades are held on behalf of Blount in Hinesville, Georgia, the bedroom community of Savannah that sits outside of Fort Stewart's front gate, the local Hinesville Coastal Courier, in covering the military homecoming, should remember that General Blount is, as far the international press and the maimed civilians of Iraq are concerned, the real "Butcher of Baghdad."
* Wayne Madsen is a Washington insider formerly working in U.S. intelligence and military circles