Onward Christian Soldiers

by Henry on May 14, 2005

It doesn’t seem to me to be unreasonable to guess that there’s an indirect link between this “NYT story”:http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/15/national/15chaplain.html?hp&ex=1116129600&en=00e6129405ca2b50&ei=5094&partner=homepage on evangelizing Christians making life uncomfortable for non-believers in the armed forces, and the “riots in Afghanistan”:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/05/13/AR2005051300301.html that followed a _Newsweek_ report that a copy of the Koran had been flushed down the toilet by Guantanamo interrogators. Other services than the Air Force have a spotty track record in the area of Christian-Muslim sensitivities; to the best of my knowledge, “General Boykin”:http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/10/16/attack/main578471.shtml was never disciplined for the flagrantly offensive comments that he made in 2003.

This is important stuff; as Robert Kaplan “said”:http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/prem/200307/kaplan in the _Atlantic_ (sub required) a couple of years ago, the US armed forces are what administer the American imperium, such as it is. Kaplan claimed that this was a good thing, pointing to the positive role that army officers could play, and quoting Winston Churchill’s dictum that the Americans were ‘worthy successors’ to the British Empire. However, the inheritance may run in different directions than those that Kaplan highlighted. What’s happening in Afghanistan is reminiscent of the rebellion of 1858 in India, where false rumours that the British were issuing cartridges smeared with the body fat of cows and pigs were lent credibility by the efforts of Company officers from Britain to evangelize among their troops. There’s no evidence whatsoever that fundamentalist Christians were responsible for any decision to flush Korans down the toilet. Indeed, I suspect that they weren’t; if the _Newsweek_ “story”:http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7693014/site/newsweek/ bears out, this is more likely to be a general cultural problem in the military than something that can be specifically attributed to a sub-group of officers. But still, an organization’s culture is in part a product of the actions that are tacitly encouraged or discouraged by its leaders. A military establishment in which extremists who believe that Allah is a “false idol” can not only survive, but prosper and reach high military rank, and in which non-Christians can experience systematic bullying and intimidation, is likely to have problems when it not only has to deal with “idol worshippers,” but has to take their beliefs seriously. Certainly, I can’t imagine that interrogators in the US military would ever have flushed a Bible down the toilet to shock a Christian prisoner into cooperation, regardless of whether this was likely to have worked or not.

Update: _Newsweek_ is now “saying”:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/05/15/AR2005051500493.html that it erred in its report.

{ 167 comments }

1

P O'Neill 05.14.05 at 5:14 pm

The Indian analogy does capture the nasty cocktail when religion & western power get mixed. But of course there are differences. The 1850s tensions in India were partly a product of the British not having entirely figured out the relative weight on official administration versus missionary Christians in running the place. Once they saw the problems that freelance colonizing by missionaries had introduced, that was somewhat reined in. But in Colorado Springs, the local crusader loons are already on the inside. They can’t be reined in because they hold the reins.

2

Matt 05.14.05 at 5:28 pm

What truly worries me about the situation in the Air Force Acc. and other such stories is that it makes it more and more likely, I think, that the days are not far off when we’ll have to worry about our generals thinking that the really serve something other than the (civilian) government. No country where people have to worry about what the generals thinks, and if they’ll go along with the civilian government, can be considered a democracy. (Even in non or semi democracies, it’s a dangerous mix- I personally think that a lot of otherwise very strange actions by Putin are best explianed by a fear that the generals won’t to along.) I first became worried about this when Clinton wasn’t able to (or didn’t) stand up to Powell and the other generals about gays in the military. I wish I could say it didn’t scare me.

3

Jerry 05.14.05 at 6:21 pm

Why do you assume the “report” — the word assumes facuality — in Newsweek was true? More likely it was another example of lazy MSM reliance on he said, she said. But the shit storm coming down must greatly please the left.

4

tvd 05.14.05 at 6:28 pm

It probably happened. Stupid, stupid. It likely won’t happen again, which is the only defensible reason to have reported it in the first place.

Assuming it was the truth, truth has consequences: people are dead and the reporters hurt their own country.

A tough philosophical problem—one’s allegiance to the truth does not always result in good. The terms are not synonymous. Unfortunately.

5

nick 05.14.05 at 6:32 pm

Why do you assume the “report”—the word assumes facuality—in Newsweek was true?

Well, it certainly fits with an established pattern of abuse in Gitmo, doesn’t it?

So let’s hold it to the same standard you obviously applied to Bush’s WMD claims.

6

nick 05.14.05 at 6:34 pm

people are dead and the reporters hurt their own country.

It’s so good to see your sense of priorities and proportion are in the right place, Philosodud. It’s obvious to all that reporters, above all, are harming America, not Gitmo interrogators who flushed the Geneva Conventions down the lavvy with the Koran.

7

tvd 05.14.05 at 6:36 pm

Insult me if you must, Nick. It discredits you far more than me.

I do not hold the perpetrators blameless. They hurt their country, too.

8

RSL 05.14.05 at 6:40 pm

Maybe it’s a good time to bring back the Founder’s suspicion of standing armies?

9

Brian 05.14.05 at 6:40 pm

It’s a very odd worldview to think that reporters have to do calculations about whether what they will do will “hurt their own country”. (The casual assumption that all reporters are Americans is amusing, but beside the point.) Most of the reports about Clinton’s alleged transgressions hurt the country, but that would have been a ridiculous criteria to use on deciding whether to print them. The relevant criteria were (a) whether the stories were true and (b) whether the public needed to know them in order to make decisions that as citizens in a democracy they are entitled to make. Many of the stories about Clinton failed (a), but not all did, and those that didn’t were legitimate reports. Same for the _Newsweek_ reports.

It must be nice to have a way of getting rid of every single piece of evidence that threatens your worldview – the messenger must be biased. Someone who worked that way would even be able to believe young earth creationism.

I wonder what the semantic evidence Jerry has that ‘report’ is factive. The following sentence sounds coherent to me.

“Newsweek reported that Clinton had embezzled money from the Arkansas treasury, but later investigations showed this wasn’t true.”

If ‘report’ is factive, this should be a contradiction, and it doesn’t sound like one to me.

10

nick 05.14.05 at 6:41 pm

I do not hold the perpetrators blameless. They hurt their country, too.

‘Too?’ As in ‘as well’, ‘in addition’? So we’re in moral equivalence territory now? Please, such lame litotes says all we need to know. Spare us such weasel words.

11

nick 05.14.05 at 6:44 pm

To clarify, by analogy, Philosodud’s line of thinking: Seymour Hersh hurt America, but those who ordered and carried out the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse aren’t entirely free of blame.

12

KCinDC 05.14.05 at 6:49 pm

If only these unpatriotic reporters would stop telling us about what’s going on, we’d be able to have a much more efficiently run war. Why should the American people have any interest in what’s being done in their name? Just stop worrying about it and let the government and the military get on with what’s best. If there are no photos and no press reports about something, then it didn’t happen and no one will ever find out.

13

tvd 05.14.05 at 6:57 pm

You seem to be unable to discuss without pejoratives, Nick. That is unfortunate, too.

Actually, to address Brian’s point as well, the Newsweek (an American magazine, I believe) report cost human lives, although the original offense did not. They are not equivalent; the moral scale tips against the report.

None of us are morally exempt from the obligation to consider the cost of our actions. Even an allegiance to truth is no defense if people die in service of no greater good.

Such a thing might be called a secular fundamentalism, if you will, vulnerable to all the criticisms of other religiousities…

14

Tom T. 05.14.05 at 7:29 pm

Henry, there may indeed be validity in the connection you are seeking to draw, but it strikes me that one could just as readily posit the opposite contention, that rumors of desecration of the Koran were lent credibility by the irreligious nature of American culture in general. It may be that the Muslim rioters heard these rumors and drew a connection to General Boykin and evangelical Christianity, but they may have also drawn connections to South Park and Piss Christ.

15

Carlos 05.14.05 at 7:46 pm

Yo, Henry, what happened to the Paul Park reference?

16

david 05.14.05 at 8:01 pm

I went to a mandatory breakfast at Ft. Hood a while back — years ago — for a recently promoted Colonel. It quickly turned into a mandatory prayer breakfast, ugly smarmy prayer breakfast, where he was given not one but two bibles — one from the officers, one from the enlisted — in an egregiously offensive ass-kissing ceremony. It was pretty clear then that there was no cost to obnoxious evangelical proselytizing in the military. It’s woven into the day-to-day all over the Armed Forces, and it’s a disaster.

17

Brian 05.14.05 at 8:01 pm

tvd, _Newsweek_ is an American magazine, but not all the people who work for it are American. Including, I believe, not all the people who worked on this story.

And the connection between the story and the deaths is really a fairly long bow to draw for responsibility. All the story shows is that there is a causal chain from the story to the deaths. But there’s also a causal chain between the Beatles recording “Helter Skelter” and the deaths of Charles Manson’s victims. Should the Beatles have been held morally responsible for that? Surely not. Now the cases are disanalogous in all sorts of ways, but I’m far from convinced that the disanalogies matter to moral responsibility. Immoral actions of agents at intermediate stages of the chain arguably blocks transmission of responsibility upwards in both cases.

18

Laramax 05.14.05 at 8:21 pm

Philosodude is absolutely right. Just think how many lives could have been saved – Afghans, Iraqis, and soldiers from Britain, the US and allied countries – if all those damn reporters had just kept quiet about 9/11. Bastard reporters.

19

nick 05.14.05 at 8:35 pm

Even an allegiance to truth is no defense if people die in service of no greater good.

Ah, the vulgar utilitarianism of scoundrels. I was wondering what smelt round here. Perhaps we should send those murderous reporters to Gitmo?

20

tvd 05.14.05 at 8:36 pm

Brian, you could be right.

Look, if Seymour Hersh’s intention was to stop the dehumanization going on at Abu Ghraib, it was righteous. If stopping Qur’ans from clogging Gitmo toilets was the intention of the Newsweek reporters, well, maybe.

As to the previous mentions of the Case Against Bill Clinton, I think the GOP put partisanship above the good of this country, and I’m glad they were punished for it in the 1998 elections.

But Whitewater didn’t kill anybody, and neither did the impeachment. I do not know what good the Newsweek report attempted to achieve. But any reasonable person should have known that reporting this minor incident would feed this murderous jihad far more than it would achieve a good.

That is, if they read their own damn magazine.

21

Henry 05.14.05 at 8:37 pm

Hi carlos

Decided that it wasn’t quite on-topic, as the particular kinds of fanaticism motivating Park’s society are rather different from those under discussion here. One of these days, though, I want to do a _long_ post on Park, and perhaps on other sf/f pieces which talk about genuinely different cultures. _Soldiers of Paradise_ is a masterpiece, although the second and third vols. fall off somewhat in quality. _Celestis_ is also superb. I can’t believe that more people haven’t read Park – he’s outstandingly good.

22

e sciaroni 05.14.05 at 9:06 pm

Newsweek is not the problem here.

The problem is that people in Afghanistan are being shot down while protesting our occupation of their country. I don’t see how this could please anyone.

23

Matt 05.14.05 at 9:21 pm

In case anyone hasn’t noticed, Mark Kleiman has some good recent posts on the air force accademy scandal at this site: http://www.markkleiman.com
They are worth looking at.

24

KCinDC 05.14.05 at 9:38 pm

You can’t see any reasons for wanting to stop the desecration other than concern for plumbing, TVD?

25

RSL 05.14.05 at 9:56 pm

The real problem here is the lack of due process at Gitmo. If we were to charge these detainees with legally-defined crimes and grant them open and speedy trials, then we would have to release them prompty if found not guilty or would be free to punish them in accordance with the law if found guilty. As it is, we’ve created a lawless enclave at Gitmo, controlled by a single branch of government (the executive), subject to no serious judicial, Congressional, or public oversight, and cloaked in secrecy. With none of the usual checks and balances in operation, there is no way for anyone in the world to be sure what’s really happening at Gitmo–or at any of our other prison camps around the globe. Instead, the whole world is simply asked to “trust our President.” That some people in Afghanistan don’t readily grant that trust should surprise no one. But that Americans–especially so-called conservative Americans who claim to cherish limited government, the rule of law, and a strict interpretation of the Constitution–are willing to do so should.

26

Carlos 05.14.05 at 10:09 pm

Henry, looks like you’ll have an excuse come August; Park’s A Princess of Roumania will be released then. (I’ll be reviewing it for Halfway down the Danube for the obvious reason.)

27

Jerry 05.14.05 at 10:18 pm

“If we were to charge these detainees with legally-defined crimes and grant them open and speedy trials, then we would have to release them prompty if found not guilty or would be free to punish them in accordance with the law if found guilty.”

Are you dotty? We’re at war. Take this statement and apply it to German or Japanese soldiers in WWII and tell me if it makes sense.

28

david 05.14.05 at 10:44 pm

Doesn’t the act of “flushing the koran down the toilet” just sound weird? To do that you’d need to cut the book up into little pieces first, or else you’d need a very large toilet.

29

nick 05.14.05 at 11:09 pm

But any reasonable person should have known that reporting this minor incident would feed this murderous jihad far more than it would achieve a good.

Perhaps, just perhaps, there are one or two people in Jalalabad who have friends and relatives who were shipped off to Gitmo on rather dubious grounds? We already know that several of the prisoners were sold out by local capos who wanted to settle scores or to earn tribute from Americans bearing holy dollars.

Are you dotty? We’re at war. Take this statement and apply it to German or Japanese soldiers in WWII and tell me if it makes sense.

So you admit that they’re prisoners of war, and thus are entitled to all the protections of the Geneva Conventions? Oops, that’s not your party line, jerry: you dropped a big stinking one there.

30

Dick Smith 05.14.05 at 11:22 pm

If I recall correctly, it was one of those tiny little texts. You know, like those little Spanish-English dictionaries.

Oh, and one more thing: I used to think the people around my office were pompous, but now that I’ve read these comments, I have a new perspective.

“Ah, the vulgar utilitarianism of scoundrels.”

“They can’t be reined in because they hold the reins.”

31

RSL 05.14.05 at 11:27 pm

“Doesn’t the act of “flushing the koran down the toilet” just sound weird? To do that you’d need to cut the book up into little pieces first, or else you’d need a very large toilet.”

Not if you were hoping the toilet would back up as well, just to add to the spectacle. And of course, it would be quite easy to tear the pages out first and then toss them in the toilet. And if there was no toilet paper available then you could . . . well, I’ll leave that to your imagination.

Put this all in the context of the fact (well-known, I’m sure to the experts at Gitmo) that even moderately devout Muslims consider it very disrepectful to read the Koran while on the toilet and the story seems quite credible to me . . .

32

Jerry 05.14.05 at 11:28 pm

Germans and Japanese soldiers were not subject to the criminal justice system in this country. But because they belonged to organized unitss and subject to military authority they were entitled to the protections of the Geneva Convention. These do not apply to guerrilla fighters because there is no state representing them that is signatory to the Convention. As to party line, that was invented by the left and persists today in that quarter (a fraction steadily falling) of the political spectrum.

33

bi 05.14.05 at 11:42 pm

Jerry, so “guerilla fighters” are supposed to be punished by US laws, but are not supposed to be protected under US laws? What crack are you smoking?

34

RSL 05.14.05 at 11:46 pm

So Jerry, if neither U.S. criminal law nor the Geneva conventions govern the detention of these (alleged) guerrillas (remember most of them have had no hearings of any sort to confirm their status), what law does govern their detention? Or do you so-called conservatives now think it’s okay to let the executive deprive people of life and liberty without any legal authority? That seems to be a recipe for unlimited and completely arbitrary executive power, something I would expect conservatives to deplore.

But hey, conservatives apparently forgot about deficit spending too, once Bush started doing it . . .

35

Jerry 05.14.05 at 11:49 pm

A better quality than you are, it seems. Foreign enemies who wage war on a society are not entitled to its protections. This is not rocket science. If I used a crayon on a big sheet of paper maybe you could understand.

36

bi 05.14.05 at 11:50 pm

Hmm, I see RSL says it better than I do.

37

Jerry 05.14.05 at 11:54 pm

RSL: Go back in history and report the last time we had a balanced budget in time of war. The left would like to forget 9/11 and sink back into the sleep of the Clinton years.

38

bi 05.14.05 at 11:55 pm

Answer the question, Jerry. So if US criminal law and international law do not apply, then under _exactly what law_ should these people be detained?

Arbitrary law, perhaps?

39

bi 05.14.05 at 11:57 pm

Or to put it in crayon: _exactly what law_ is being invoked to put these people in prison? Eh?

40

Jerry 05.15.05 at 12:13 am

Call it the law of the jungle. Or make it prettier and say a jurisprudence is evolving to deal with a new form of transnational lawlessness in the dawning age of suitcase A-bombs and the inmates at Gitmo are on the cutting edge. Maybe they’ll look back in their golden years and be proud they helped make legal history. Got an answer yet on the last balanced budget during time of war?

41

bi 05.15.05 at 12:22 am

“Jurisprudence” my foot. There’s no law (“juris-“), no discipline (“-prudence”), behind all these detainings. It’s arbitrary. It’s the law of the jungle, and you’re a jungle barbarian in civilized clothing.

And Jerry, the US is always at war with somebody, and I’m sure some time during the few hundred years of the US’s whole history the budget has been balanced.

42

Publius 05.15.05 at 12:27 am

Fun to watch the interchange with Jerry. Umm, you liberal intellectuals don’t get it. You are trying to apply logic, consistency, reason, and a respect for law and other people’s cultures, to Jerry’s statements. That’s pointless.

The best way to understand Jerry is to understand the basic dictum: “Might Makes Right”. We are the USA, we have the biggest military, the most weapons, the most powerful multinational global corporations, the most wealth, and therefore what we say, goes. Don’t fucking argue. We define what is “good” and what is “bad”, what is “legal” and what is “illegal”. There is no need for further discussion. Trade deficits are good because we are the mightiest nation on earth and everyone should be graterul to service our consumer whims– it gives them “growth”, it builds character. Budget deficits are great because they starve the government, thwarting its silly wimpy redistributionist agenda, thus giving corporations a free hand for neo-feudal dominance (tax cuts + expensive war + “faith-based” pork = goodbye welfare state!). Overweening executive power is good because it is strong and manly and decisive; we don’t want to humiliate our Dear Leader or his military by making him beg for a permission slip! Flushing Korans and holding prisoners indefinitely is good, becuase we are a strong and we are therefore right; everything and everyone else is inferior, and they can just get over it. We do not apologise. We do not admit error. We do not even report error. We are mighty, and therefore our correctness is unassailable, you simpering liberal pussies. We drive the agenda. You can only analyse and whinge about it, because you suck.

Everything is really consistent when filtered through this particular view. America is perfect because it is powerful, not the other way around. Anything that limits or threatens American power is therefore bad: and that is why committing atrocities is always justified, but reporting them is an outrageous and treasonous act– or at least questionable. Loyalty is exalted; the only ethical violation worthy of punishment is disloyalty, and the “blame America first” left is nothing if not disloyal. Anything in service of the greater glory of Our Homeland and its global hegemony is not only justified, but noble and pure. We are civilised Christians, they are savage terrorists, and so they have no “rights”. How can you not understand this? It is so simple. Now go get a goddamned job, you lazy communist leech living off the fat of our hard-working corporate visionaries, and start buying SUV’s like a good boy.

Now, it seems that Jerry is a bit more polite and educated than to be so Freeperishly blunt and direct, so since I’m one of those wimpy liberals I’ll apologise for exaggerating or picking on him or overgeneralising. But I think I’ve accurately described the worldview in which his arguments make perfect sense. So, put that in your crack pipe, smoke it, and you’ll see the futility of arguing with the Jerry’s of the world.

43

Christopher M 05.15.05 at 12:34 am

Henry,

Surely you don’t mean to say that anyone “who believe[s] that Allah is a ‘false idol'” is an “extremist.” Wouldn’t, say, your average Buddhist, if pressed, have to say that Allah is false (in that he does not actually exist) and an idol (in that millions of people spend large amounts of time worshipping him)? The problem is with crass and insensitive words and actions from people who represent the United States, not from the content of those people’s religious beliefs.

44

RSL 05.15.05 at 12:50 am

Jerry, last I heard “law of the jungle” isn’t something our Founders wrote into the Constitution. Maybe you have a different version, though? I don’t know, but I kind of agree with Justice Scalia that what the government does should be founded in the law as written . . .

Also, in most cases foreign enemies who fight against the U.S. in fact do receive protection under the Geneva conventions . . .

And by the way, I’m pretty sure that much of the $300 billion or so spent on Iraq and Afghanistan has been funded by supplementals and hasn’t been included in recent deficit projections . . . most of the deficit comes from other government spending (which keeps increasing under the Republicans) and revenue shortfalls . . . And even if the deficit were caused primarily by our actions in Iraq, I’d argue that all that tax money has not been particularly well spent.

Also, while Congress did authorize the use of force in Iraq, no war has been declared. It seems that if, during wartime, the executive branch is going to have arbitrary powers to detain people, then we should at least let Congress decide when war begins and ends so there’s some check on when these extraordinary powers can be executed. I don’t know, but I don’t trust the government as much as you do apparently.

Finally, this “law of the jungle” that apparently applies. Could you post a copy of the wording? Bi and I are quite curious to learn about it. Thanks!

45

EKR 05.15.05 at 1:02 am

“But Whitewater didn’t kill anybody, and neither did the impeachment. I do not know what good the Newsweek report attempted to achieve. But any reasonable person should have known that reporting this minor incident would feed this murderous jihad far more than it would achieve a good.”

Who says Whitewater and the impeachment didn’t kill anybody? It seems to me that there’s a reasonable argument to be made that the impeachment started a chain of events which lead to Al Gore losing the 2000 election and therefore to the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq, which surely has killed many people. Now, we can argue about whether this was a *predictable* result of the impeachment, but it seems to me that it was a result of it.

46

Joel Turnipseed 05.15.05 at 1:05 am

A little sanity is in order here… There’s no danger, at least in my experience, of religious evangelicals taking over the armed forces (at least not my branch, the Marine Corps). With the exception of boot camp, where you had to pick a religion whether you had one or not (mostly so the Drill Instructors could go to the PX while you were at church on Sunday), I can think of no one more readily-mocked in the Marine Corps than the overly-religious zealot (I guess, had you been ex-Army or openly gay… but of all services, USMC is least likely place you’d ever dare that–when Clinton enacted “DADT” the Marines drove down to the first gay bar in Wilmington and tossed all the clientele through the front window).

Any military is a blunt instrument, composed of a lot of fucked up individuals–and a few extraordinarily virtuous ones–trying to do the best they can in shitty circumstances. Once you set ’em loose, you’re going to have atrocities such as My Lai and Abu Ghraib (neither of which, really, compare to the savagery of early wars if we care to remember). A few jackasses may desecrate the Koran, and a few higher-ups may encourage them to do so… making the already-likely into the nearly-certain (which is also true of Abu Ghraib). Meanwhile, a few others may turn to their Bible to get through their pain–but most guys will turn to their rifle, their buddy, their bottle, and their dick (in about that order). I think Eleanor Roosevelt (of all people!) put it best: “The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank GOD for the United States Marine Corps.”

There are lot of things wrong with our military (mostly having to do with the jackasses in the White House), but too much religion isn’t one of them.

47

Tom T. 05.15.05 at 1:26 am

It’s hard to see how the Government could see to it that people of particular religious beliefs do not “survive” in the military without imposing a religious test in connection with promotion. Barring certain beliefs strikes me as just as problematic as requiring them.

Moreover, Christopher M’s comment seems right on. Anyone who truly believes in the divinity of Christ must necessarily believe that Islam is to some extent false, yes? Just as any observant Muslim or Jew would presumably find falsity in the worship of Christ? I suppose extremism is in the eye of the beholder, but I don’t think beliefs like Boykin’s are uncommon.

48

Juke Moran 05.15.05 at 1:38 am

Things change, Joel. And what the military is is more than its manpower. It’s a force. The Marines may still be a bunch of supremely disciplined tough guys, but if they’re Marines they go where they’re sent, and they do what they’re told. Too much religion figures in that, now.
What Henry mentioned is what seems to be a rise in the presence of evangelicals proselytizing the ranks. Not getting laughed at. Change.
The best ways to avoid trouble all start with seeing it coming.
Boykin’s vicious Old Testament yawp signalled a profound change in the chain of command, and that was a little while ago. That he wasn’t seriously reprimanded is further proof. It hasn’t gotten better, or anything but more intensely bizarre, since then.
This is religious war across the board now. Whether you have one or not.

49

eb 05.15.05 at 2:26 am

Boykin was not only not reprimanded, he was put in charge of Task Force 121 (see the Hersh article in December 2003 New Yorker for more on that).

Joel, if you meant to be reassuring with that ugly anecdote about the assault in Wilmington, try again.

publius, you have got the worldview nailed.

50

corbetti 05.15.05 at 2:39 am

[i]The best way to understand Jerry is to understand the basic dictum: “Might Makes Right”. We are the USA, we have the biggest military, the most weapons, the most powerful multinational global corporations, the most wealth, and therefore what we say, goes. Don’t fucking argue. We define what is “good” and what is “bad”, what is “legal” and what is “illegal”. There is no need for further discussion. Trade deficits are good because we are the mightiest nation on earth and everyone should be graterul to service our consumer whims—it gives them “growth”, it builds character. [/i]

Well said – and the reason that my better half and I moved to Australia from the US 2 years ago. The world will soon have enough of the US bullying the schoolyard, and they will simply stop supporting our crack habit known as deficit financing.

When the oil and the money stop flowing in, the US crumbles. Too much debt, too little production, and too many whiny, self-absorbed service sector Christofacists just waiting for their comeuppance.

Maybe not this year, maybe not next… but I wouldn’t want to be there when the music stops.

51

eb 05.15.05 at 2:48 am

From Mark Kleiman’s post on the AF Academy mess: The [Washington] Post quotes Capt. Morgan as saying that the problem isn’t merely in the Academy; she claims that the mainline Protestant denominations are increasingly marginal within the Air Force chaplain’s corps as a whole.

This is what’s happening inside the Army as well: Dominionists and Kristians have taken key positions inside the chaplain’s organizations, and are using them in sectarian ways to marginalize other Protestant denominations. Not so much against Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim chaplains, because there’s a requirement to keep a certain ratio between chaplains and soldiers of given faiths.

The Kristians are increasing their influence through the chaplain corps because there’s not the same explicit requirement to distinguish among Protestant denominations; so they fill up as many of those slots as possible.

52

Joel Turnipseed 05.15.05 at 3:13 am

Religious war across the board… I hope not. I’m as sceptical of all the current-day Elmer Gantry’s running around right now as anyone, and as worried that we’re headed for some 30s/60s-style social ugliness. Still, I find it hard to believe that the Marines will be at the head of some Evangelical war–nothing in my experience counts for it (and, given history of characters like Smedley Butler, David Shoup, and David Ellsworth–along with a tradition on the whole of uncommon crankiness–a whole lot counts against it).

Eb – absolutely, I didn’t mean to “reassure” by that remark–only to make a clumsy parallelism: Marines have as much disdain for religious zealots in the ranks (or, even more, their officers) as they do for gays. While I share the former, I certainly don’t share the latter — my daugher’s godfather is gay — and it seemed like a more powerful analogy in haste than it does on reflection. Sorry if I offended by any apparent approval.

53

Russkie 05.15.05 at 3:36 am

Joel Turnipseed’s characterization of the military rings true. The more conscientious brass or the supervisory arms of gov’t are thus likely to think that their challenge is to rein in these guys to the extent that they don’t go trashing gay bars.

In contrast, what I’m getting from the other posts here is that many people think that military needs to be entirely revamped so that it’s not a “blunt instrument” but rather a sensitive bunch of new-age risk takers.

That other comment about “South Park” etc. was right on the mark. The belief that Mohammed is a “false prophet” is less likely to inspire toileting of the Koran than the view that all religions are a bunch of silly twaddle.

54

corbetti 05.15.05 at 3:57 am

>

You obviously haven’t listened to or read the delirious rantings of Ann Coulter et al. Force conversion of the arabs to Christianity plays to the same crowd as pissing on the Koran – that Islam is a false religion and that it’s followers are misguided at best and subhuman at worst (and thus anything we do to them really isn’t that bad). I believe this is the same line of thinking that led to the mass manufacture of the Gypsy/Jew Easy-Bake oven line in Germany during the 1930s/40s…

55

abb1 05.15.05 at 4:05 am

The belief that Mohammed is a “false prophet” is less likely to inspire toileting of the Koran than the view that all religions are a bunch of silly twaddle.

I don’t think it’s a question of believes as much as professionalism, discipline and, most of all, general sanity. Henry is talking about extremists who believe that Allah is a “false idol”. Extremist anti-religious folks might’ve done the same, but, apparently, they just aren’t there.

It’s the same as elsewhere in the US: wingnuttery is a huge problem and a danger. Sure, left-wing extremism could’ve been a huge problem too – if it existed. But it doesn’t exist, so what’s the point of hypothesizing?

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Joel Turnipseed 05.15.05 at 4:43 am

abb1 — not sure what the scope of your claim that “left-wing extremism could’ve been a huge problem too–if it existed” is supposed to be, but surely you can’t be claiming that it’s never existed, here or elsewhere?

Just watched Siegel and Green’s fascinating The Weather Underground again the other night, and man, if Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers was our pre-war cautionary tale, let’s hope we’re not going to ignore this one. Of course, one of the long aftershocks of war is veterans, several of whom are destined to go dangerously wrong at home — even my relatively brief war produced Timothy McVeigh and John Muhammad…

But to say that extreme/reactionary left has never been dangerous is to ignore a hell of a lot of history. My bedside read the past couple days has been Orwell’s Homage — a testament to fucked-up leftism if there’s ever been one (well… there’s always Darkness at Noon and Gulag Archipelago, but let’s not quibble).

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raj 05.15.05 at 5:29 am

Jerry · May 14th, 2005 at 11:28 pm

https://crookedtimber.org/2005/05/14/3309/#comment-71740

>Germans and Japanese soldiers were not subject to the criminal justice system in this country (presumably the US)…..

Apparently you are unaware of the eight or so German soldiers who were arrested, tried and executed by the US of A during early WWII. They had been surrepticiously dropped off in the US by a German submarine boat, and were supposed to wreak some bit of havoc in the US. One of their members ratted them out to the US authorities. They were arrested, tried, convicted and executed.

So it is somewhat disingenuous to claim that German soldiers were not subject to the criminal justice system of the US.

BTW, it is not widely known, but there were more than a few German POWs who were actually interred in the US. I don’t know why the US went to the expense of moving German POWs to the US, but it’s true.

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Bernard Guerrero 05.15.05 at 7:23 am

“Certainly, I can’t imagine that interrogators in the US military would ever have flushed a Bible down the toilet to shock a Christian prisoner into cooperation, regardless of whether this was likely to have worked or not.”

Why can’t you imagine that? Efficacy over all. (As to whether it would be, I dunno. Different question altogether.)

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moni 05.15.05 at 7:33 am

In contrast, what I’m getting from the other posts here is that many people think that military needs to be entirely revamped so that it’s not a “blunt instrument” but rather a sensitive bunch of new-age risk takers.

That would make sense only if you believe that the main duty of a military and the main purpose of military blunt force is torture?

Torture which is, on paper, illegal. You don’t seriously believe applying laws is a matter of turning the army into a bunch of new age sissies, do you?

Torture also makes a military more of a target – see dozens of daily attacks in Iraq; it makes it less capable of cooperating with other nation’s militaries; it makes its military and political leaders more despised; it makes their political strategies even more reckless and dangerous. But if might makes right, all this is irrelevant. If laws still count for something, it’s not.

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bi 05.15.05 at 8:01 am

moni: I don’t think that’s what Russkie meant. Anyway, I would’ve thought that law and discipline are precisely the things that sharpen a military, not blunt it.

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Jerry 05.15.05 at 8:48 am

“It’s arbitrary. It’s the law of the jungle, and you’re a jungle barbarian in civilized clothing.”

Thanks for the compliment, but how did you know I always wear my Savile Row suit when I sit down to the computer? Dark gray, faint charcoal stripes — the nipped-in Euro look. My next computer will have this distance viewing feature if the price is reasonable. The lot at Gitmo is getting something less than full Geneva Convention protections because they represent a new kind of threat. I’m sure my liberal friends welcomed judicial activism when their social and legal aims were being furthered and moreover would like the criminal justice system headed by Janet Reno brought to bear on the terrorism problem again. But it didn’t work the first time and there is no reason to believe it will now. Now that the judicial pendulum is starting to swing the other way, liberals perceive dangers not previously visible. But the courts, military and civil, will lay down a body of law to deal with transnational terrorism. Just be patient, you ardent souls. Publius up there sounds like a very angry man. Just the sort the Red States like to see articulating lefty positions . Cut to the chase and it’s a brew of self-loathing and anti-Americanism. Wanking might provide some release for all that pent up emotion. I did know about the krauts executed during WWII. Weren’t they subject to military justice, however? Another breed of cat, which is what the Guantanamo kerfuffle is about. Mr. Turnipseed makes the mistake liberals always do when he compares evangelicals to Elmer Gantry. The latter (he wasn’t a real person!) was a fraud who didn’t believe what he spouted. I think you should give the evangelicals the courtesy of assuming they are men and women of sincere belief. As for the Marine Corps, it does what it’s told. Always has.

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nick 05.15.05 at 9:22 am

Foreign enemies who wage war on a society are not entitled to its protections.

Americans fighting in Iraq are considered foreign enemies by those shooting at them. Again, your sorry excuse for logic just ran into a ditch. But anyway, you’re just a Freeper Cliche Generator with no intelligent input.

My bedside read the past couple days has been Orwell’s Homage—a testament to fucked-up leftism if there’s ever been one

Curiously, I read Homage as a cautionary tale for the liberal hawk community, most of all Christopher Hitchens. And, of course, there’s the whole unstated shadow of Fascism thing. You do derive such odd lessons, Mr Turnipseed.

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Tom Womack 05.15.05 at 9:57 am

Are you dotty? We’re at war. Take this statement and apply it to German or Japanese soldiers in WWII and tell me if it makes sense.

It would not have been feasible to arrest and arraign all the Germans surrendering at D-day; nobody denys that.

But the laws of war are essentially laws of expediency, for a situation where you don’t have the spare time, the spare manpower and the spare lawyers to regard the enemy’s troops as criminals, handle them through the criminal process and subject them to criminal judgement.

The war on terror isn’t a total war. Once an assortment of Afghan rabble, of degrees of danger somewhere between substantial and nil, are in Guantanamo Bay, there’s no shortage of spare manpower in the US to try them. Keeping them locked up incognito comes across as pure vindictiveness from a power which in other parts of the well-connected world is trying to make itself out as a kind force.

And if you fear that, if the prisoners are innocent of any crime but will upon release return to Afghanistan equipped with grievances such that they’ll form nuclei for groups continuing to fight the Western forces, the grievances are the fault of their captors, and the right answer is probably to give them asylum in the United States, and treat them as on probation (no passports, standard report-to-police-station-weekly to avoid fleeing the country in other ways) until hostilities are over.

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Uncle Kvetch 05.15.05 at 10:08 am

With the exception of boot camp, where you had to pick a religion whether you had one or not

Joel, is this really the case? There’s no provision for someone to claim to be an atheist or agnostic…and you have to attend religious services every week? Just wondering.

As for the rather virulent homophobia within the USMC…for what it’s worth, I’ve heard more than one gay man insist when referring to Marines that “anyone that butch has got to be hiding something…” 8^)

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Bruce Baugh 05.15.05 at 10:16 am

People unenthustiastic about the Bush administration who don’t know the word antinomian should, as it’s a perfect fit for how the administration and its supporters act. The original Christian version of the idea is that once you’re chosen by God, you can do anything, even violate His explicit laws, and it’s all okay – His personal judgment in your case trumps all other considerations. (There were allegedly some Gnostic sects who made it a point of holiness to deliberately break as many laws as possible, to show their liberty from them.) Secular versions carry the same basic impulse, that there is some quality that makes you exempt from the regular moral arithmetic.

This has always lurked in the US’s collective consciousness, dueling with the idea that one can only prove oneself worthy through good works and God’s dispensing His favors only if He agreed that you deserved them. Unfortunately, the concept of people concerned about whether they’re in the right and working hard to test it isn’t in favor at the top at the moment.

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Russkie 05.15.05 at 10:24 am

Isn’t there a more basic problem here?

What happens if some American teenager goes to NYC’s Central Park and starts desecrating the Koran on a live webcam?

If he is permitted to continue, the fact that he isn’t a US serviceman is not likely to make many Muslims any less offended.

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Cranky Observer 05.15.05 at 10:38 am

> The left would like to forget 9/11 and sink
> back into the sleep of the Clinton years.

Would that be the sleep where Clinton motivated and managed the proper authorities into uncovering the Millenium Plot, or the sleep where George W. Bush went on vacation in August 2001 while the system was flashing “code red”?

Cranky

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RSL 05.15.05 at 10:43 am

Getting back to Henry’s original point, I think we need to question whether today’s all-volunteer army is a good idea. Increasingly, the army seems to be less and less a civilian military and more of a professional army, isolated from ordinary civilian life. This scares me a bit, particularly when the military is closely aligned with the executive branch and subject to less and less oversight from the other branches of the government. Combine that close association with the executive branch with religious fervor and we have a very dangerous mix that could lead us down the path toward military dictatorship. I think we should abolish the volunteer army (except for a core force necessary to protect us in emergencies) and reinstitute the draft for those times we need to raise armies for war. Mandatory service (two years or so in the military or peace corps or Americorps) might also be a way to keep our force strength up without having to have professional standing armies. We need to get back to the Founders’ vision of a truly civilian service. When arms and the army are in the hands of the people, mililtary dictators cannot succeed. Our Founders understood this. We seem to have forgotten.

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Jerry 05.15.05 at 11:00 am

You and Charlie Rangel want an army of conscripts. The last time that happened the left was energized with dire longterm consequences, and we are only now emerging from that shadow. The Clinton sleep I referred to were the years between the first and second attempts to bring down the WTC. Many of those released from Gitmo resumed the war when they got back and have been killed or recaptured. They didn’t learn to hate the West in the slammer. They learned that in the madrassas funded by the Wahibi sect. Nick up there said “Americans fighting in Iraq are considered foreign enemies by those shooting at them.” They’re not seeking the protection of Iraqi law, but perhaps I don’t take whatever cloudy point you’re trying to make. English can be a wonderful tool for expressing yourself, but it takes some work.

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imag 05.15.05 at 11:26 am

Many of those released from Gitmo resumed the war when they got back and have been killed or recaptured.

Can you prove this?

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nick 05.15.05 at 11:31 am

jerry appears to have some problem appreciating the logic of his blanket statement that “Foreign enemies who wage war on a society are not entitled to its protections.” Perhaps he’s too dense to realise that in certain parts of the world, Americans are foreigners. Back to Freeperville with you, jerry.

As to the wider issue of military culture: the poorest regions of the US are, outside large urban areas, ones where Christianity of an authoritarian kind prevails, and those regions provide a large number of recruits seeking the subsidised tuition and training that allows them to get outta Dodge.

72

Jonathan 05.15.05 at 12:08 pm

Joel,

If you’re referring to Wilmington, NC, as I suspect you are, I was living there at the time and recall no such incident.

It sounds manifestly implausible for a variety of reasons. If you meant that some marines started a fight in a bar, that’s less so.

73

bi 05.15.05 at 1:00 pm

Jerry, do you like my answer to your “balanced budget” question?

And you’ve admitted that you’re a barbarian?

Well? Well?

Well.

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bored 05.15.05 at 1:09 pm

Jerry: But the courts, military and civil, will lay down a body of law to deal with transnational terrorism. Just be patient, you ardent souls.

I hope I’m not too far of the mark in assuming that if your hypothetical child was detained by a foreign power and tortured for years, you’d be patient about it, and sure that everything would get figured out.

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moni 05.15.05 at 1:58 pm

bi: I don’t know exactly what russkie meant with that except some rhetorical shot at some imaginary attempt to deprive the military of its military power. Since that was said in the context of a discussion on torture, well, I do wonder what sort of idea of the military (and the law) it is.

If he is permitted to continue, the fact that he isn’t a US serviceman is not likely to make many Muslims any less offended.

Well Russkie, don’t you think it would change the political significance and impact of the act?

Or do you think theft, corruption, drug trafficking, any crime you want to think of would be the same thing when done systematically by members of a political institution under the government, than when done by an individual private criminals?

Come on, there’s got to be better attempts at minimising this story… These were not teenagers in central park, and the koran desecration bit is part of many ugly instances of unlawful treatment of detainees.

76

abb1 05.15.05 at 2:00 pm

Joel,
…surely you can’t be claiming that it’s never existed, here or elsewhere?

No, I’m not claiming that it’s never existed, of course it has; I’m only saying that left-wing radicalism and nihilism aren’t something we have to worry about in 2005 US of A and especially in the US military.

77

moni 05.15.05 at 2:01 pm

They didn’t learn to hate the West in the slammer

I’m learning to hate ‘the West’ right here, right now.

78

abb1 05.15.05 at 2:21 pm

He doesn’t represent the West, he represents jihadists/crusaders of the world.

79

asg 05.15.05 at 2:38 pm

FWIW, Newsweek is backtracking on the Koran-toilet story. I am not sure how to parse the Reuters story; perhaps Newsweek will be more clear in its retraction? clarification? Who knows.

http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2005-05-15T181410Z_01_N15570482_RTRIDST_0_NEWS-RELIGION-AFGHAN-NEWSWEEK-DC.XML

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Joel Turnipseed 05.15.05 at 2:44 pm

Jonathan – Google to the rescue. So, I guess the rumor mill was as strong then as my willingness to believe the worst about the Marines. Of course, there may have been another incident, but with the references to the TV appearances, etc, I’m sure this is the one I recalled. Doesn’t say whether the gay man was defenestrated or not, but it doesn’t look like it.

Kvetch – Yes, you have to attend religious services, at least in my platoon you did. I have no idea what the formal policy on atheism is. But I should make clear that my drill instructors were certainly not Gunny Hartmann: had I said I was Buddhist they probably would have laughed, made me Buddhist lay private, then told me to go to Protestant service since it sure as hell wasn’t Catholic, Jewish, or LDS–I don’t recall there being a Muslim service.

As to the “all-volunteer” army — yes, I think this is something of a social problem (especially as we consolidate bases to West and Southeast). But whether a draft is the solution, I don’t know… it’s certainly tempting. A national service plan for all youths would be better than a straightforward military draft (with lottery for non-pacifists to enter military service), but there’re big problems (union opposition, funding) with that, too. The operational problem is, for a lot of MOSs, it can take almost two years just to train people (General Gray for a while had extended USMC boot camp from 13 to 17 weeks–and I spent almost a year at Camp Lejeune afterwards in Advanced Diesel Mechanics school; some MOSs have considerably longer training still: Helicopter and Jet mechanics, some programmers, etc.)… not to mention, morale is much lower with conscripts–so, you do get a less effective fighting force (and, even now, with volunteer military, something like 50% of all Marines entering boot camp are kicked out/gone UA/tossed in jail within two years–and less than 20% of those are washed out in boot camp).

In general, however, I think we suffer from a lack of educated people within the ranks and who’ve graduated from the ranks. The few people that I’m still in contact with are now very senior enlisted (or even recently retired) and I can throw verbal fireballs about the War in Iraq at them in a way that they would never tolerate from someone else (and have even gotten a few to come ’round). Though this isn’t fail-proof (the Swift Boat Veterans for Down-and-out-Lies are a case in point–and there’s a great scene in Larry Heinemann’s new memoir in which he and Jim Webb snort at each other at a Vietnam Writers’ Association meeting in Hanoi), but I think the broader understanding of “hey, we’ve been in this together–don’t bullshit me” is of non-trivial benefit to the larger social discussions around the military and society.

81

Joel Turnipseed 05.15.05 at 2:56 pm

FWIW, one more small anecdote: When I was in SA for the Persian Gulf War, reading (among other things) Lawrence’s Seven Pillars, I asked out chaplain for a copy of the Koran. Chaplain was sceptical, but next day I got one.

82

Jerry 05.15.05 at 3:43 pm

Why the quotes around the West, Moni? You don’t accept the concept? And if you hate “the West” so much, it seems reasonable to wonder why you don’t establish residence elsewhere. Canada is on record as being willing to receive our misfits and malcontents. As for Nick, those Americans who are enemies to foreign societies in which they live have no right to expect its protections either. Why is this so hard to understand? And be good enough to explain what Freeperville is. Return to the playground, Bi. You’ve got a shot at winning some arguments there.

83

Anarch 05.15.05 at 3:48 pm

Joel Turnipseed: What’s your take on, e.g., Boykin and the reports of non-Christians being terrorized in the Armed Forces? [Sorry, I’m suddenly blanking on the details there.] Do you find it conceivable/possible/plausible that the Marines might be roped into the service of the fundamentalists through the officer corps (maybe as far up as General, e.g. Boykin again) or do you see them as able to resist, whether personally or institutionally, such pressure?

84

fifi 05.15.05 at 3:49 pm

“Foreign enemies who wage war on a society are not entitled to its protections.”

Oh yeah, the “war.” Our cities are in ruin.

85

KCinDC 05.15.05 at 4:40 pm

Apparently our cities are in ruin. Check out “Inside America’s Most Powerful Megachurch” in the May Harper’s:

She reached across the table and touched my hand. “I have to tell you, the spiritual battle is very real.” We are surrounded by demons, she explained, reciting the lessons she had learned in her small-grou studies at New Life. The demons are cold, they need bodies, they long to come inside. People let them in in two different ways. One is to be sinned against. “Molested,” suggested Linda. The other is to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. You could walk by sin — a murder, a homosexual act — and a demon will leap onto your bones. Cities, therefore, are especially dangerous.

By the way, New Life Church is visible from the Air Force Academy.

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Scott Free 05.15.05 at 4:56 pm

““Foreign enemies who wage war on a society are not entitled to its protections.””

“Oh yeah, the “war.” Our cities are in ruin.”

Your point fifi? A war is not just unless we are loosing it?

Back on topic – it seems that the newsweek story which got people killed and damaged our efforts at establishing democracy in Afganistan has been retracted. Some asshole apparently made it up. And people died. Does the phrase “loose lips sink ships” come to anyone’s mind?

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nick 05.15.05 at 5:00 pm

asg: Here’s the actual Newsweek report. The salient passage is this:

On Saturday, Isikoff spoke to his original source, the senior government official, who said that he clearly recalled reading investigative reports about mishandling the Qur’an, including a toilet incident. But the official, still speaking anonymously, could no longer be sure that these concerns had surfaced in the SouthCom report. Told of what the NEWSWEEK source said, DiRita exploded, “People are dead because of what this son of a bitch said. How could he be credible now?”

Clear as mud. And this ‘longtime reliable source, a senior U.S. government official who was knowledgeable about the matter’ whose ‘clear recall’ seems to have suffered in the past week deserves to have his anonymity blown out of the water. The journalese implies that it’s one of a handful of people.

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nick 05.15.05 at 5:15 pm

Some asshole apparently made it up. And people died. Does the phrase “loose lips sink ships” come to anyone’s mind?

Quite. Although by ‘asshole’ you mean ‘senior US government official’. Why does the US government hate America?

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Scott Free 05.15.05 at 5:27 pm

“Some asshole apparently made it up. And people died. Does the phrase “loose lips sink ships” come to anyone’s mind?”

“Quite. Although by ‘asshole’ you mean ‘senior US government official’. Why does the US government hate America?”

The newsweak story quoted an “anonymous source”. Could be a senior government official, could be the “reporters” invisible friend Henry the rabbit.

90

Scott Free 05.15.05 at 5:32 pm

Ace sums it up nicely:

“The media does in fact have an impressive fact-checking system.

If a quote or purported fact portrays Republicans, the military, or America generally in a positive light, they check it to death to make sure they’re not spreading propaganda.

But… if the quote or purpoted fact portrays those in a negative light, it pretty much gets into print with only the most cursory once-over by the editors. If it agrees with their basic world-view — if it feels “right” in their gut — then in runs.

Fact-checking comes later… after a couple of newly-minted corpses.”

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John 05.15.05 at 5:47 pm

Who is Ace, and what grounds do we have for believing his(?) assertions?

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Marc M 05.15.05 at 6:59 pm

*** Update: Newsweek is now saying that it erred in its report ***

erred with malice
ohhhhh wellllll at least we know those xristians are the ones to blame and not Newsweek which is an important discovry from academics herein

also I have attempted sevral times to comment in another link you have
this one here
but the comments arent’ working
I told jq about this but he’s ignored it
my last try

93

Marc M 05.15.05 at 7:01 pm

wrong link above
this is it

94

Marc M 05.15.05 at 7:14 pm

Belmont club also is mentionng this Newsweek fiasco

ps blemont is an excellent blog

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y81 05.15.05 at 7:41 pm

I notice that no one responds to Tom T’s post number 14, although it is clear to any impartial observer that the relentlessly secular and sexualized worldview purveyed by both Western academics and the American entertainment industry is a big part of “why they hate us.” But no one will bother to address this point, because the “stupid party” of today doesn’t need to think or analyze, they know that everything is the fault of Bush and the Christians.

96

Jerry 05.15.05 at 9:13 pm

I’m troubled by the conservative direction this blog’s postings are taking. I only dropped by to get the liberals stirred up. Their impotent fury lies just below the surface and it takes only a little to make them blow up. You need a raincoat for the spit.

97

Tom T. 05.15.05 at 9:59 pm

Ironically, it seems like one problem highlighted by the Koran unsupported-rumor incident is a lack of cultural sensitivity at Newsweek. To hear them tell it, the magazine was shocked to discover that this story produced such outrage in Afghanistan.

98

Scott Free 05.15.05 at 10:53 pm

Newsweek lied, people died…

99

Scott Free 05.15.05 at 11:11 pm

Still, I suppose, you cant’ blame the rioters. You will recall the terrible destruction and loss of life that occured when Christians rioted after an “artist” in New York presented a work comprising a crucifix in a glass of urine…

100

fifi 05.15.05 at 11:21 pm

I read the corporate media like the Soviets read Pravda, the denial serves only confirms the story. And I think we can safely assume our “knowledgeable government source” wishes he had crossed the mafia instead.

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jet 05.15.05 at 11:37 pm

“Certainly, I can’t imagine that interrogators in the US military would ever have flushed a Bible down the toilet to shock a Christian prisoner into cooperation, regardless of whether this was likely to have worked or not.”
Perhaps because it would have done nothing to make a Christian talk, as the person would just consider the flusher and idiot. And there certainly would never have been riots if the word got out that it had happened. Apples and oranges.

Even if the story would have been true, this is only a minor issue of some idiot abusing his power. The real problem is a culture that whips itself into a murderous fury over the flushing of a book. Yeah it was disrespectful, but riots? Calls for holy war? Main news accross the Islamic World? Frigg’n retards need to grow up.

102

tvd 05.15.05 at 11:42 pm

This correspondent wrote his opinion early in this thread that reporting a desecration of the Qur’an at Gitmo might have been irresponsible because it led to a loss of human life.

I note the right-wing blogosphere is in gotcha mode because the report is likely to be proven false. They are not unjustified in crowing that more human beings have now died from this than at Abu Ghraib.

But forget that. Even if it had been true, which was in the realm of probability, any intelligent or moral person could reasonably expect that the report could be expected to do more harm than good.

It’s not as if the reporters were any more morally outraged at the prospect than they would be at the burning of a Bible or an American flag. Even my most benevolent imagination cannot derive what greater good they could have been seeking.

Sacha Baron Cohen sez, check yerself before you wreck yerself. Likewise, check yerself before you wreck us all.

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corbetti 05.15.05 at 11:45 pm

[quote]Even if the story would have been true, this is only a minor issue of some idiot abusing his power. The real problem is a culture that whips itself into a murderous fury over the flushing of a book. Yeah it was disrespectful, but riots? Calls for holy war? Main news accross the Islamic World? Frigg’n retards need to grow up.[q/uote]

REALLY? That speaks volumes about your lack of any sort of real religious conviction, regardless of faith. If a person is a devout believer in an Almighty God, and that the word of God is written in a Holy Book, then he or she might be understandably pissed off if a country’s military debased that book in a way meant to denigrate the religion, and thus the glory of God.

As an athiest, I don’t particularly give a shit about one fairy tale (guy nailed to a wooden post) or another (wandering the desert for 40 years) or another (insert your religious favourite here), but your “grow up” comment shows the level of ignorance that perpetuates these global conflicts which are going to become 21st century crusades.

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corbetti 05.15.05 at 11:46 pm

[quote]ven my most benevolent imagination cannot derive what greater good they could have been seeking.[/quote]

shine a light on the cockroaches at gitmo masquerading as honorable US soldiers and there’s a public service right there. If other soldiers are killed as a result, the blame rests on the US leadership, not on the reporter.

105

Jim Harrison 05.16.05 at 12:13 am

What you have to understand is that there are really two Purgatories, the one Dante wrote about where venal sins are purged in preparation for eternal bliss and the other purgatory where falling souls undergo basic training for full-blown Hell. America is currently on the down escalator, but we’ve got a ways to go. Which is why the Conservatives hereabout still bother with excuses. We aren’t torturing anybody. We aren’t torturing anybody without extreme need. We aren’t torturing anybody too much. Torture is manly and admirable. Good people aren’t evil just because they do evil things. We can quit anytime. etc.

106

Walt Pohl 05.16.05 at 1:00 am

Someone wrote: “If a quote or purported fact portrays Republicans, the military, or America generally in a positive light, they check it to death to make sure they’re not spreading propaganda.”

I mean, is there anyone who can say this with a straight face? After the American media credulously repeated every single pre-war WMD claim by the Bush administration, a record of 100% failure to filter out propaganda by the Republicans?

107

Scott Free 05.16.05 at 1:28 am

So, now the Republicans control the intelligence services of France, the UK and all others who believed Saddam was working on WMDs? Wow, that Karl Rove really _is_ a Sith Lord!

108

Barry Freed 05.16.05 at 1:53 am

Joel Turnipseed:

FWIW, one more small anecdote: When I was in SA for the Persian Gulf War, reading (among other things) LawrenceÂ’s Seven Pillars, I asked out chaplain for a copy of the Koran. Chaplain was sceptical, but next day I got one.

As someone who studies Islam academically I’m very curious to know which translation you were given. If you can’t recall the name of the translator the exact title would be almost as helpful (e.g. The Noble Koran, The Holy Qur’an, The Glorious Qur’an, The Koran Interpreted, etc.,)

BTW, I’ve enjoyed your contributions to this thread.

109

abb1 05.16.05 at 3:20 am

Fifi,
I read the corporate media like the Soviets read Pravda, the denial serves only confirms the story. And I think we can safely assume our “knowledgeable government source” wishes he had crossed the mafia instead.

I’m with you. And not only “the source” – I saw one of the Newsweek editors apologizing on CNN and he sure looked like he was just flown from Gitmo’s room 101 where he saw his most precious book (checkbook, I guess) flushed down the toilet.

110

John 05.16.05 at 4:04 am

So, now the Republicans control the intelligence services of France, the UK and all others who believed Saddam was working on WMDs? Wow, that Karl Rove really is a Sith Lord!

Scott Free, I admire your ability to concoct willfully point-missing and subject-changing retorts, as well as your tin ear for attempted sarcastic humor. Sith Lord – that’s a topical reference, isn’t it? Oh, my sides ache.

111

Joel Turnipseed 05.16.05 at 4:39 am

Barry – I have no idea which version I was given, it was a loaner and though there were many things I’d have gladly stolen as a souvenir that wasn’t one of them. “Qur’an” sounds about right, though–as I remember thinking “well, at least they used an intelligent transliteration…”

112

Joel Turnipseed 05.16.05 at 5:10 am

Anarch — well, to put it simply: “No, the officer corps is not going to rope enlisted soldiers and Marines into an evangelical war.”

While there are certainly militant believers within the military–an old Marine buddy of mine is passionately fond of John Eldredge (who is a scary freak)–the bottom line is that most of the discussion on this thread misunderstands the nature of military command: it cannot be ordered–it must be earned.

While I’m sure General Boykins has his admirers, I’m equally sure he is regarded with deep suspicion by many in both the officer corps and in the enlisted ranks. There have always been crazies like him around (and, really, compared to a guy like George Van Horn Moseley, Boykins is a pussycat), but by-and-large they do not have sufficient support of their troops to make effective military leaders (beyond their immediate circle of worship–even Patton and MacArthur had more than their share of troubles from displeasure expressed beneath and above them).

Of course, that’s not to say that firebreathers don’t like their challenges, and that they don’t have the weak and the psychotic in their pull–just that you need to know that there’s a much more complicated dynamic going on and it always makes my skin itch when people make blanket statements like “Marines follow” or “The command made them do it” or what have you. On the one hand, it’s wrong because you have to be willing to follow to be led, and on the other–there a lot of people who, when they see bullshit going on in war, call it out, or even put a stop to it. It’s both morally unfair and socially dangerous to cover every one in uniform with the same dubious brush-strokes (ahem, “cockroaches?”).

The most important person in the Marine Corps chain of command is not the Major or Colonel or General, but the Corporal and Sergeant. To a lesser extent, this is also true in the Army. If some piss-ant first lieutenant–or worse, self-righteous colonel–tells his men they are “fighting for God,” his men are going to take a deep breath and start thinking about how to keep the joker in line and themselves out of his trouble. It’s just that simple, and I thought Evan Wright did a great job of presenting just that dynamic in his Generation Kill, (and wasn’t surprised in the least when several of the NCOs portrayed in that book took UCMJ punishment rather than back down from their negative portrayal of fucked-up, gung-ho asshole commanders). Which is to say: when you’re thinking of war, think of the honest accounts (mine, Jarhead, The Ice Beneath You, Aardvark Goes to War, Generation Kill, are all excellent contemporary or near-contemporary accounts of real, actual men at war and how they think and talk and feel) before you trip over any old stereo-type you like.

Disclaimer: This is a backward looking statement, etc, and should in now way imply support for the war in Iraq, the Bush Administration, religious zealots, psycho killers, or any other undesirable elements of our military, our government, or our culture at large. Note that while it’s true that those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it, it’s equally true that those who know too much history are likely to miss what’s going on in front of their damned nose. Before using these statements for trolling, flames, derogatory or smart-ass remarks, or epistemically-grounded fact, please consult your intelligence and/or seek a second opinion.

113

soru 05.16.05 at 5:20 am

‘cockroaches’

Isn’t there some kind of internet rule where if you refer to fellow human beings as ‘cockroaches’, especially in the context of scapegoating them for a problem apparently caused by someone else, noone ever takes anything you say as anything but the rantings of a possibly dangerous lunatic?

Truly despicable.

soru

114

MFB 05.16.05 at 5:20 am

One thing intrigues me: these riots in Afghanistan. Do all Afghanis have subscriptions to Newsweek and the New York Times? Or, if they don’t, is it possible that they might have been rioting because they heard it from somewhere else?

Incidentally, if they heard it from Newsweek and the New York Times, since when have Afghanis had such absolute faith in the Western, Christian media?

Just askin’.

115

moni 05.16.05 at 5:49 am

mfb, if you’d read about it youd have found it was reported in local, Arab, media.

I’m amused by Newsweek recanting the story. Accounts of purposeful religious humiliation involving the Koran have been in the earliest reports of human rights abuses, the lawyers of the released British detainees also spoke of incidents like this, and Amnesty, HRW, etc

So it’s interesting that the US media resurrected this story only now, only then to retract it. Hmm.

It’s a bit like the story about detainees being forced to listen to loud music, that was also coming out repeatedly at intervals for the first years after Guantanamo was set up. I guess it provided even more of a source for jokes and minimisation than this one.

The real problem is a culture that whips itself into a murderous fury over the flushing of a book.

Yes, jet, because it’s not like there’s 600 Muslims detained illegally – indefinitely and with no legal recourse and in violation of human rights laws; others that were abused in Abu Ghraib; thousands of civilians that have been killed and bombed and their houses destroyed in Afghanistan and then Iraq; not to mention every Iraqi now having to deal with terrorism that just wasn’t there before the US invaded…

No, of course, stupid Muslims, whipping themselves into a frenzy only over a book.

Do we have details on how those 10 reported killed were killed? Any chance they were killed by police charging the protesters? Or maybe that only happens in Latin America these days…

116

moni 05.16.05 at 5:53 am

Correction – Arab obviously doesn’t refer to Afghanistan, but point is, the story made into the media (tv, papers) across the Arab and Muslim world, including Pakistan, Afghanistan, etc.

So, silly question really.

117

John 05.16.05 at 6:32 am

mfb –

from the Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1484868,00.html

‘Protests appeared to have been sparked after the former Pakistan cricket star Imran Khan held up a copy of the article at a press conference last week and said: “This is what the US is doing, desecrating the Qur’an.”‘

118

Jerry 05.16.05 at 7:13 am

So all this bloviating was about an event that never happened. Another reminder of why the intellectual has no respect beyond the academy — and little enough there.

119

Mrs Tilton 05.16.05 at 7:29 am

Re: Jerry’s comment at #118 — Generalissimo Francisco Franco may still be dead, but the spirit of General Millán Astray is, I see, alive and well.

120

fifi 05.16.05 at 7:46 am

Jerry’s trying to imply this story is like the tale of Saddam’s WMD. But hold the phone:

“But Newsweek said the source later told the magazine he could not be certain he had seen an account of the Koran incident in the military report and that it might have been in other investigative documents or drafts.”

So if it wasn’t in the military report it was in other investigative documents or drafts? OK, that changes everything.

121

Uncle Kvetch 05.16.05 at 8:16 am

Accounts of purposeful religious humiliation involving the Koran have been in the earliest reports of human rights abuses, the lawyers of the released British detainees also spoke of incidents like this, and Amnesty, HRW, etc

Indeed. Juan Cole has much more on this in today’s entry.

122

Nicholas Weininger 05.16.05 at 8:25 am

There’s an article today on Antiwar.com noting several previous foreign and US reports of Koran desecration at Guantanamo:

http://www.antiwar.com/news/?articleid=5959

This stuff was just buried on back pages until Newsweek moved it forward. Given the large number of independent prior reports, the most plausible hypothesis is that the Pentagon just strongarmed Newsweek into their retraction.

123

Jerry 05.16.05 at 8:46 am

Did General Millán Astray send intellectuals into the fields to dig potatoes?

124

Ray 05.16.05 at 9:08 am

Maybe its just that the killing fields got more publicity, but up until now I was completely ignorant of Pol Pot’s strong opposition both to detention without trial and to the desecration of religious artifacts as a way of intinidating said detainees. You really do learn something new every day.

125

Hogan 05.16.05 at 9:36 am

I notice that no one responds to Tom T’s post number 14, although it is clear to any impartial observer that the relentlessly secular and sexualized worldview purveyed by both Western academics and the American entertainment industry is a big part of “why they hate us.”

If you hate capitalism so much, why don’t you move to Cuba?

126

Walt Pohl 05.16.05 at 9:41 am

Scott Free: You’re missing the point. You claimed that the media always treats Republican news sources with skepticism. I have demonstrated that to be false. In the lead up to the war, Republican administration officials made claim after claim about WMDs. The media went ahead and credulously printed the claims. They all turned out to be false. Therefore the media did not treat them with sufficient skepticism, and your statement was false.

127

jet 05.16.05 at 9:50 am

It is amazing what people are willing to believe on the word a single anonymous source, who can’t name the document, and can’t keep his story straight. By this level of evidence we now know that Jew’s drink the blood of Christian children. I guess it all comes down to what you want to believe.
So yes, whip yourself into a self-righteous fury over how Newsweek had to have had it right and all those other discredited claims of Koran flushing had to have been true too. Your fervent faith in the truth will convert so many to your cause.

128

Ray 05.16.05 at 9:59 am

Given the level of disrespect shown to human bodies in Abu Ghraib, the allegations of disrespect for a book are very credible.

129

Jaybird 05.16.05 at 10:19 am

I find the allegations of disrespect for the book to be credible.

What I find incredible is the idea that people might riot and call for holy war based on the idea of disrespect for the book.

And, more than that, it’s truly incredible that people are defending the idea of people rioting and calling for holy war based on the idea of disrespect for the book.

The Enlightenment was A Good Thing. Every culture should go through one.

130

Antoni Jaume 05.16.05 at 10:27 am

“Did General Millán Astray send intellectuals into the fields to dig potatoes?”

Those he could catch and did not torture to death, yes. Or whatever the winners of the Spanish civil war thought convenient, like “El Valle de los Caídos”. Many had to flee the country to the gain of those countries where they settled.

DSW

131

KCinDC 05.16.05 at 10:27 am

Jaybird, who is defending the idea of people rioting and calling for holy war? What I see people suggesting is that if you’re trying to make friends with a majority-Muslim country (and improve the view of the US in the majority-Muslim Middle East) then insulting Islam as a method of interrogation is an incredibly bad idea. What I find incredible is that that idea is apparently controversial.

132

Ray 05.16.05 at 10:33 am

“it’s truly incredible that people are defending the idea of people rioting and calling for holy war based on the idea of disrespect for the book.”

I must have missed that. Do you really find it incredible that people will riot when they think their religion has been insulted? (Are Christians above that sort of thing? Given the siege mentality that they’ve managed to construct for themselves in the US, of all places, I can only imagine how they’d react to the real thing)

133

fifi 05.16.05 at 11:04 am

Who are the people whipping themselves up in a self-righteous fury? I’ve made a run of the blogs and the only ones that seem to care deeply about the story (and not so much the alleged incident) are written by the usual tender loudmouths that refuse to consider such a thing plausible: right wing apologists. Reasonable people take it for granted that if you’re going to detain people for no reason for years, you are perfectly capable of defacing a bestseller.

134

moni 05.16.05 at 11:34 am

The Enlightenment was A Good Thing. Every culture should go through one.

Involuntary irony alert…

135

Scott Free 05.16.05 at 11:51 am

Pohl: “Scott Free: You’re missing the point. You claimed that the media always treats Republican news sources with skepticism. I have demonstrated that to be false. In the lead up to the war, Republican administration officials made claim after claim about WMDs. The media went ahead and credulously printed the claims. They all turned out to be false. Therefore the media did not treat them with sufficient skepticism, and your statement was false.”

Wrong. As I pointed out, the sources which pointed to Saddam’s WMD potential were many and varied and included the intel services of France the UK, the U.S. (Clinton era), among others. They did not originate with the Republicans.

Ray: “I must have missed that. Do you really find it incredible that people will riot when they think their religion has been insulted? (Are Christians above that sort of thing? Given the siege mentality that they’ve managed to construct for themselves in the US, of all places, I can only imagine how they’d react to the real thing)”

Err… how many died in the U.S. when the Christians responded to the “artist” who exhibited a piece consisting of a crucifix immersed in a beaker of urine?

Yeah, the Enlightenment was a good thing.

136

Tom Doyle 05.16.05 at 11:56 am

Washington Post editorial

December 23, 2004

War Crimes

THANKS TO a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union and other human rights groups, thousands of pages of government documents released this month have confirmed some of the painful truths about the abuse of foreign detainees by the U.S. military and the CIA — truths the Bush administration implacably has refused to acknowledge. Since the publication of photographs of abuse at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison in the spring the administration’s whitewashers — led by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld — have contended that the crimes were carried out by a few low-ranking reservists, that they were limited to the night shift during a few chaotic months at Abu Ghraib in 2003, that they were unrelated to the interrogation of prisoners and that no torture occurred at the Guantanamo Bay prison where hundreds of terrorism suspects are held. The new documents establish beyond any doubt that every part of this cover story is false.

Though they represent only part of the record that lies in government files, the documents show that the abuse of prisoners was already occurring at Guantanamo in 2002 and continued in Iraq even after the outcry over the Abu Ghraib photographs. FBI agents reported in internal e-mails and memos about systematic abuses by military interrogators at the base in Cuba, including beatings, chokings, prolonged sleep deprivation and humiliations such as being wrapped in an Israeli flag. “On a couple of occasions I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water,” an unidentified FBI agent wrote on Aug. 2, 2004. “Most times they had urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18 to 24 hours or more.” Two defense intelligence officials reported seeing prisoners severely beaten in Baghdad by members of a special operations unit, Task Force 6-26, in June. When they protested they were threatened and pictures they took were confiscated.

FULL TEXT

[Amoung the documents referred to in the Washington Post “War Crimes” editorial, above, were FBI reports on Guantanamo. The following article is based on such a report. T.D.]

LETTER BLASTS GUANTANAMO TECHNIQUES IN 2002
FBI COMPLAINTS LODGED A YEAR BEFORE ABU GHRAIB SCANDAL

The Associated Press, Dec. 7, 2004

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – FBI agents witnessed “highly aggressive” interrogations and mistreatment of terror suspects at the U.S. prison camp in Cuba starting in 2002 — more than a year before the prison abuse scandal broke in Iraq — according to a letter a senior Justice Department official sent to the Army’s top criminal investigator.

In the letter…dated July 14, 2004….obtained by The Associated Press, the FBI official suggested that the Defense Department did not act on FBI complaints about the incidents, including instances in which a female interrogator grabbed a detainee’s genitals and bent back his thumbs, a prisoner was gagged with duct tape and a dog was used to intimidate a detainee who was later thrown into isolation and showed signs of “extreme psychological trauma.”

A Marine told an FBI observer that some interrogations led to prisoners’ “curling into a fetal position on the floor and crying in pain,” according to the letter…

According to the letter, in late 2002 an FBI agent observed an interrogation where Sgt. Lacey whispered in the ear of a handcuffed and shackled detainee, caressed him and applied lotion to his arms. This occurred during Ramadan, Islam’s holy month, when contact with females is considered particularly offensive to a Muslim man.

Later, the detainee appeared to grimace in pain, and the FBI agent asked a Marine who was present why. “The Marine said [the interrogator] had grabbed the detainee’s thumbs and bent them backward and indicated that she also grabbed his genitals.

The Marine also implied that her treatment of that detainee was less harsh than her treatment of others by indicating that he had seen her treatment of other detainees result in detainees curling into a fetal position on the floor and crying in pain,” Harrington wrote.

In September or October 2002 , FBI agents saw a dog used “in an aggressive manner to intimidate a detainee,” the letter said. About a month later, agents saw the same detainee “after he had been subjected to intense isolation for over three months … totally isolated in a cell that was always flooded with light. By late November, the detainee was evidencing behavior consistent with extreme psychological trauma … talking to nonexistent people, reported hearing voices [and] crouching in a corner of the cell covered with a sheet,” the letter said.

In October 2002 , another FBI agent saw a detainee “gagged with duct tape that covered much of his head” because he would not stop chanting from the Quran…

FIRST DETAILS FROM CUBA
No detailed incidents of abuse from 2002 have publicly surfaced until this FBI letter….Still, at least 10 incidents of abuse have been substantiated at Guantanamo, all but one from 2003 or this year. They range from a guard’s hitting a detainee to a female interrogator’s climbing on a prisoner’s lap.

COMPLAINTS APPARENTLY DISREGARDED
Thomas Harrington, an FBI counterterrorism expert who led a team of investigators at Guantanamo Bay, wrote the letter to Maj. Gen. Donald J. Ryder, the Army’s chief law enforcement officer…Harrington said that FBI officials complained about the pattern of abusive techniques to top Defense Department attorneys in January 2003 and that it appeared that nothing was done….”I have no record that our specific concerns regarding these three situations were communicated to the Department of Defense for appropriate action,” Harrington wrote[,]…saying the three cases demonstrated the “highly aggressive interrogation techniques being used against detainees in Guantanamo…I refer them to you for appropriate action.”…

Lt. Col. Gerard Healy, a spokesman for the Army, confirmed the authenticity of the FBI letter, as did the FBI.

Healy said the female interrogator — identified only as Sgt. Lacey in the letter — was being investigated, but the Army would not comment further or fully identify her….Brig. Gen. Jay Hood, the current commander of …Guantanamo, said allegations of mistreatment and abuse were taken seriously and investigated. “The appropriate actions were taken. Some allegations are still under investigation,” Hood told the AP. “Once investigations are completed, we report them immediately.”

At Guantanamo…The United States has imprisoned 550 men,… some ….held without charge and without access to attorneys since the camp opened in January 2002…The U.S. military says prisoners are treated in accordance with the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit violence, torture and humiliating treatment of combatants.

FULL TEXT

FULL TEXT

137

Walt Pohl 05.16.05 at 12:19 pm

Scott: The US made specific claims that did not rely on foreign intelligence. For example, Rumsfeld’s claim that the WMDs are around Tikrit. The New York Times print story after story (all exclusives) about Iraqi WMDs based on information provided by Iraqi informants sent their way by the administration. All of these stories turned out to be wrong. If the NY Times had been as skeptical as you assert they were, they would have checked out the reliability of the Iraqis, and known they were being lied to. If the media had been more skeptical, 1500 Americans and counting might still be alive.

Anyway, what’s your argument? That the media was right to print administration claims because they were similar to claims from other sources? By that argument, you would have to accept that Newsweek was right to print the story since it was similar to other stories that had appeared. (Ripping up the Koran is a much weaker charge than torture.)

138

Scott Free 05.16.05 at 12:48 pm

Pohl: “Anyway, what’s your argument? That the media was right to print administration claims because they were similar to claims from other sources?”

Having more than one source is one of the most basic safeguards in any form or research or journalism.

“By that argument, you would have to accept that Newsweek was right to print the story since it was similar to other stories that had appeared.”

Nonsense. They had one “anonymous source” who, as I understand, did not even claim to have witnessed the incident firsthand. “Similar to other stories” is another way of saying hearsay. There are plenty of “similar other stories” about Jews using the blood of children in rituals, but no one with any sense will call those stories reliable sources that coroborate the “Protocalls of the Elders of Zion.”

“(Ripping up the Koran is a much weaker charge than torture.)”

It is to us in the West, but to Muslims? I am unaware of any prohibition to torture in the Koran or in Muslim traditions (any scholars out there care to enlighten me?), but I do know that desecration of the Koran is punishable by death.

139

moni 05.16.05 at 12:51 pm

Err… how many died in the U.S. when the Christians responded to the “artist” who exhibited a piece consisting of a crucifix immersed in a beaker of urine?

Mr Scott Free, nevermind the difference between a controversy at an art exhibition and torture in an unlawful detention centre, you’re saying you really don’t see a difference between individuals doing an act that causes controversy, and members of the military and intelligence force of a country, subject to the government’s authority, doing it?

Next what, comparing Guantanamo to a Marilyn Manson show?

A more correct analogy would be: American citizens rounded up by the Pakistani regime, shipped to an unlawful detainment centre in Pakistani territory, deprived of all legal counsel, deprived even of the right to know what they’ve been charged for, held in conditions contrary to the Geneva conventions and all other international law and treaties and human rights declarations, subjected to unlawful treatment and abuse, both physical and psychological, with a few mysterious deaths resulting from that, and *then* also subjected to religious humiliation by way of desecration of the bible or ron l. hubbard books or whatever those detained happened to consider their holy book (positing they all were as religious as the Muslims detained in Guantanamo).

Can you imagine that? I can’t, not without imagining the geography of Pakistan seriously reshaped by way of a couple nukular interventions.

So please, stop trying to pretend the tree is all there is in that forest. At least stick to the “just a few bad apples” meme, it’s more dignified.

140

moni 05.16.05 at 12:55 pm

PS that shouldn’t even be necessary – the ‘Englightenment’ is that little thingy from which modern law emerged that led to laws such as those banning torture. Forgot that?

Also forgot that you can choose to go to an art exhibition or a Marilyn Manson show and leave at any moment where you feel offended, or not even go there in the first place, but you cannot choose to leave Guantanamo or not even go there in the first place?

141

fifi 05.16.05 at 1:20 pm

“Err… how many died in the U.S. when the Christians responded to the “artist” who exhibited a piece consisting of a crucifix immersed in a beaker of urine?”

You wrote ‘US’. Do you fully appreciate what the word refers to, the thing or situation itself, or were you just writing some malarkey? Does ‘US’ refer to a society not a little crazed by war and ruin and deprivation, such as… Afghanistan, or was the comparison you made not a little specious?

You can light fuses all day long but if they’re not connected to a powder keg there’s no kaboom.

142

Jon 05.16.05 at 1:34 pm

The disturbing revelation in Newsweek regarding the desecration of the Koran by U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo Bay has gotten more disturbing still. Newsweek now concedes that its single-source story may not be credible and has issued an apology to readers for the violence that claimed 15 lives in Afghanistan and produced fury around the Islamic world.

Given the impact of its Periscope story, Newsweek’s ethical breach if true is a serious one and, as the Pentagon charges, shockingly irresponsible. But the reaction and rhetoric of the Bush administration shows the sheer hypocrisy – and massive cajones – of a White House characterized by a morally casual attitude towards the truth…

For the full story, see:

“White House Irony Watch: Newsweek Edition”

143

Scott Free 05.16.05 at 1:42 pm

Moni, you take my comments out of context. I was responding to the following post:

Ray: “Do you really find it incredible that people will riot when they think their religion has been insulted? (Are Christians above that sort of thing? Given the siege mentality that they’ve managed to construct for themselves in the US, of all places, I can only imagine how they’d react to the real thing)”

The point being that Christians did not riot when their holy symbol was desecrated in public, while Muslims have rioted based upon an (unfounded) rumour of desecration.

Ray’s attempt to slander Christians by insinuating that they would also “react to the real thing” by rioting is what I was objecting to.

“Mr Scott Free, nevermind the difference between a controversy at an art exhibition and torture…”

What a typical Liberal position; Desecrate the holy symbol of Christians in public, for all the world to see and its “art”, “thought provoking”, a “controversy.” Do it to any other religion, and it is “culturally insensitive”, “torture”.

I have a little experiment for you to perform. Set up an art exhibition which features a Koran immersed in a jar of urine, and see how long before you have collected your own weight in death threats.

144

Walt Pohl 05.16.05 at 2:28 pm

SF: Must you evade the point? I made the analogy exact. The New York Times printed stories about Iraqi WMDs based on a single source, an Iraqi defector supplied by the Bush administration. The stories were not collaborated by almighty French intelligence or anyone else. These stories were helpful to the Bush administration in making the case for war. It is exactly the same as the Newsweek situation.

145

moni 05.16.05 at 2:29 pm

Mr Free, I did not take your comment out of context at all, I did understand the point you were making, that’s exactly what I was responding to.

“The point being that Christians did not riot when their holy symbol was desecrated in public, while Muslims have rioted based upon an (unfounded) rumour of desecration.”

First, it’s not unfounded because this is not the first time it’s been reported. Secondly, it’s like a cherry on the cake of the history of abuse at Guantanamo, and just because Newsweek hasn’t been reporting about all the rest of that abuse in the past week, doesn’t mean people across the world have forgot.

Thirdly and more to the point – Christians did not riot on that particular occasion (although kicking up an almighty fuss about it) because the desecration they were protesting was not done by a government institution, in a detainment centre of a foreign country (as foreign to them as the US is to Pakistanis and Aghanis detained in Guantanamo), where people were being detained unlawfully in violation of all intl law and abused in violation of more intl law…

How much clearer do you want me to make it, that the parallel with that exhibition is ridiculous on the grounds of facts, not opinions?

Ray’s attempt to slander Christians by insinuating that they would also “react to the real thing” by rioting is what I was objecting to.

Again, imagine how all Americans, nevermind Christians, would react if the situation was reversed, with the Pakistani government illegally detaining 600 American citizens indefinitely in an unlawful centre without charging them, providing them with legal counsel, etc.

You just do *not* have a comparable situation to Guantanamo where America is on the receiving end of government-sanctioned treatment in a government institution of a foreign government.

Please let your Free mind linger on that thought for a second.

What a typical Liberal position; Desecrate the holy symbol of Christians in public, for all the world to see and its “art”, “thought provoking”, a “controversy.” Do it to any other religion, and it is “culturally insensitive”, “torture”.

No, Mr Free, I am not stating my opinion on the provocation of that particular artist in that art exhibition, I am referring to it as art exhibition because that is what it was set up as, organised by a museum, I’m not making any value statements because I’m not interested in a discussion, within a thread about Guantanamo, on the merits of a particular representative of contemporary US art or whether it is right to it art and call him/her an artist and whether any artistic merit should be afforded to it.

What is being referred to as torture here is more than the act of using the Koran as a prop for interrogating purposes. The abuse is in the nature of that unlawful detainment itself, and in the specific episodes of abuse and torture that have been denounced, including those exposed in detail by the Britons who were released from Guantanamo. Moreover, that the use of the Koran in that manner is an abuse, well it’s not me saying it, or liberals, or my idol and great leader Fidel Castro, it’s the Geneva conventions that the US ratified after WWII, human rights declaration that the US also ratified, and national laws against torture, as well as military code itself.

If you want to talk art exhibitions or Marilyn Manson shows (he’s an artist too, technically, that’s the definition for everyone in showbiz these days, no?) and reactions to same, then open a thread somewhere else, because it’s got as much to do with what is going on in Guantanamo as the price of bananas.

Set up an art exhibition which features a Koran immersed in a jar of urine, and see how long before you have collected your own weight in death threats.

The Koran happens to be the holy book of half of my family so no, even if I don’t much care for its contents, I wouldn’t feel the need to steep it in urine, whether in an art exhibition or in a detainment camp, whether to create some cheap controversy or humiliate detainees. Besides, I don’t run a legal museum or an illegal detainment centre, either, oddly enough, seen as they’re such similar activities!

I’m happy to leave that kind of holy-book-in-urine stunt to American artists and/or military personnel, who don’t have much in common except being American, but that is neither here nor there.

146

Scott Free 05.16.05 at 2:59 pm

You are missing the point completely, moni, because you are projecting your own values on the issue. _You_ are outraged by the Guantanamo detainments in general, and by the alleged use of Koran desecration as _torture_.

The muslim rioters object are rioting because of the (alleged) _desecration_ itself. Look at the sign held up by a protester on Yahoo top stories; it demands an apology for the desecration of the Qran – no mention of torture, and this is typical of accounts from the middle east. Sadly, I think that many Muslims in the middle east are so innured to torture (as it is so common in that region) that it really does not outrage it as much as it does Westerners. But mess with their religion, and they scream for blood. Remember what happened to Salman Rushide and Theo Van Gogh.

147

corbetti 05.16.05 at 4:50 pm

[quote]
But mess with their religion, and they scream for blood. [/quote]

Yeah, I dare you to take a copy of the bible to town square in some small redneck southern baptist town, drop trow and take a big steaming dump on it and see how long it takes before you are strung up from the nearest tree by evangelical nuts.

148

Anthony 05.16.05 at 6:42 pm

147 – if you try it in New York City, you’ll get an NEA grant.

149

Dan Foley 05.16.05 at 7:03 pm

Hey Nick, do the Catholics who wish to keep transvetites dressed as nuns out of their parades just need to lighten up?

Just curious.

So, prior to finding out the story was completely bogus, the only ones we even consider responsible are the reporters or the soldiers? Not the rioting fanatics?

I guess they’re just religious savages who can’t be expected or held to civil standards?

And if this is who we are faced with, people motivated by such fanaticism, the same fanaticism which justifies, in their view, torture, beheading, etc., faced with this, putting such thugs in stress positions or frightening them with dogs, makes us the bad guys? At least we never flushed a Koran down the toilet.

150

Dan Foley 05.16.05 at 7:05 pm

Or put one in a jar of piss in an art exhibit.

151

Jerry 05.16.05 at 8:31 pm

Corbetti: No, you’ll be arrested for indecent exposure and one or two other misdemeanors. Do you know anything about the South other than tales you hear swapped around the glory holes?

152

corbetti 05.16.05 at 8:43 pm

Jerry,

nice way to dodge the point. Do it in private but make sure all the rednecks know about it and tell me that you won’t get your windows shot out, your tires slashed, and maybe a little bodily harm from the friendly enlightened locals.

Or did you forget all the white pointy hats that live down in the Good Old south?

153

corbetti 05.16.05 at 8:44 pm

Jerry,

and further to the point – do you think if I went to one of those right-wing radical jewish enclaves in the Occupied Territories and let them all know that I was going to whiz and crap on a copy of the Torah in my home, that they wouldn’t try to kill me?

Cheers,
Corbetti

154

Alan K. Henderson 05.17.05 at 12:33 am

148 – spot on.

155

Scott Free 05.17.05 at 1:03 am

How about this version:

“Yeah, I dare you to take a copy of the (Diversity Statement) to (the faculty lounge) in some small (liberal, elitist university), drop trow and (dare to suggest that there are both physiological and cognative differences between the sexes) and see how long it takes before you are (demonized, ostracized, denied tenure and probably fired) by (politically correct, radical leftist) nuts.”

Come to think of it, I would probably rather face the rednecks…

156

R 05.17.05 at 1:17 am

Corbetti, before anyone else bothers to answer you … are you about 15-16 years old?

157

moni 05.17.05 at 2:49 am

You are outraged by the Guantanamo detainments in general, and by the alleged use of Koran desecration as torture.

So you think I’m the only one in the world?

You think it’s a matter of personal projection, not, umm, principles as well as laws?

The muslim rioters object are rioting because of the (alleged) desecration itself.

And they have every right to, because of what it represents, and because of what desecration of it by US military in the context of Guantanamo represents.

There have been Muslim protests against torture in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, dear Mr Free, pity you have such a short memory and such a small-minded view of the world.

Sadly, I think that many Muslims in the middle east are so innured to torture (as it is so common in that region) that it really does not outrage it as much as it does Westerners.

Riiight… Nice try… Yes, Muslims in the ME (does that include Pakistan and Morocco now?) are brutal animalistic tribal people and only mind torture when it’s done by the US, of course. Because of that irrational hatred of America.

153 – another excellent apt analogy, congratulations! I have another one: if you go into a pub and start calling everyone a drunk, you may get kicked out. I mean, that’s just like what happens in Guantanamo, isn’t it?

Wasting time here…

158

Tom Doyle 05.17.05 at 3:48 am

Nicholas Weininger [122.]wrote

“There’s an article today on Antiwar.com noting several previous foreign and US reports of Koran desecration at Guantanamo…This stuff was just buried on back pages until Newsweek moved it forward. Given the large number of independent prior reports, the most plausible hypothesis is that the Pentagon just strongarmed Newsweek into their retraction.”

At least as far back as march, 2003, references to US troops putting the Koran in toilets, or otherwise defiling Islam’s sacred text, presumably to psychologically torment detainees, have appeared in news articles in and outside the US. In October of 2004, a court ordered the US to turn over detainee-mistreatment related documents to a group of human rights organizations that was suing the USG based on its treatment of detainees. Thousands of documents were released, and the organizations began making them public in December. The content of the publicized documents was such that the Washington Post ran its “War Crimes” editorial.

Reading this thread, I get the impression that many are not familiar with these developments. In my opinion, they are extremely relevant to the subjects under discussion here. I would humbly suggest anyone who is interested in this subject to read the WaPo editorial and the other article that I posted at #136 above. The article discusses FBI reports of religious harassment of detainees that to me (I’m not a Muslim) seemed more disgraceful than the Koran desecration.

Also, below are excerpts from articles that have appeared in the past that specifically refer to US troops putting the Koran in the toilet.

SOURCE:

Flushing Newsweek by corrente via REASON – Hit and Run (Comment by Susan at May 17, 2005 01:54 AM) via Antiwar.com (Matthew Barganier)

March 26, 2003
The Washington Post | Final Edition | SECTION: A SECTION; Pg. A12 HEADLINE: Returning Afghans Talk of Guantanamo; Out of Legal Limbo, Some Tell of Mistreatment | BYLINE: Marc Kaufman and April Witt, Washington Post Staff Writers

The men, the largest single group of Afghans to be released after months of detainment at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, gave varying accounts of how American forces treated them during interrogation and detainment. Some displayed medical records showing extensive care by American military doctors, while others complained that American soldiers insulted Islam by sitting on the Koran or dumping their sacred text into a toilet to taunt them.

[…]

Ehsannullah, 29, said American soldiers who initially questioned him in Kandahar before shipping him to Guantanamo hit him and taunted him by dumping the Koran in a toilet.

June 28, 2004
Financial Times Information | Global News Wire – Asia Africa Intelligence Wire | InfoProd | Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

One of the men, Timur Ishmuratov of Tatarstan, told ORT on 24 June — prior to the release — that he had been captured by Northern Alliance forces shortly after the beginning of the U.S. military action in Afghanistan and “sold” to the Americans for $ 3,000-$ 5,000. Former prisoner Airat Vakhitov told ORT about alleged mistreatment while he was at Guantanamo. “They tore the Koran to pieces in front of us, threw it into the toilet,” Vakhitov said. “When people were praying, they forced their way in and put their feet on people’s heads and beat them.”

August 4, 2004
CNN.com | SECTION: LAW | HEADLINE: British men report abuse from Guantanamo BYLINE: By Jonathan Wald CNN
DATELINE: NEW YORK

U.S. soldiers “would kick the Koran, throw it into the toilet, and generally disrespect it,” Iqbal said.

August 5, 2004
1. The Independent (London)

In the report, released in New York, Asif Iqbal, Rhuhel Ahmed and Shafiq Rasul – the so-called Tipton Three – said one inmate was threatened after being shown a video in which hooded inmates were forced to sodomise each other. Guards allegedly threw prisoners’ Korans into toilets, while others were injected with drugs, it was claimed.

August 5, 2004
Daily News (New York) | Byline: By James Gordon Meek and Derek Rose.

They say that rats and scorpions had free run of their sweltering cages, loud rock music was used to drown out the sound of prayers, and sleep deprivation was common.

“They would kick the Koran, throw it into the toilet and generally disrespect it,” Asif Iqbal wrote.

[…]

Pentagon spokesman Michael Shavers said the military “operates a professional detention facility at Guantanamo” and does not condone abuse of detainees.

January 9, 2005
Sunday | FINAL EDITION | HEADLINE: Nightmare of Guantanamo…. U.S. prison camp in Cuba has become legal black hole, reporter says BYLINE: John Freeman Special to The Denver Post

“They pepper sprayed me in the face, and I started vomiting; in all I must have brought up five cupfuls. They pinned me down and attacked me, poking their fingers in my eyes, and forced my head into the toilet pan and flushed. They tied me up like a beast and then they were kneeling on me, kicking and punching. Finally they dragged me out of my cell in chains … and shaved my beard, my hair, my eyebrows.”

[…]

And earlier this year, that process finally began. In March, the government released five British men from Guantanamo after nearly three years. They had been captured in Afghanistan, where they had gone to offer humanitarian aid. Rose interviewed them that same month, two months before the allegations of Abu Ghraib first surfaced, and yet they described a period of captivity eerily similar to that of the Iraqis in Abu Ghraib.
In August Mr Ahmed, Mr Rasul and Mr Iqbal issued a 115-page dossier accusing the US of abuse, including allegations that they were beaten and had their Korans thrown into toilets.*

159

moni 05.17.05 at 4:46 am

Tom Doyle, nice work in putting all those excerpts together.

I recall also a special Channel 4 did on torture in which they recreated the conditions and treatment methods for inmates at Guantanamo with volunteers. The religious humiliation was done in more than one way, it may appear as the least troubling of those forms of abuse, but it is both offensive in itself and because of the context, both immediate and general.

I’m always impressed at the torture apologists trick of making a single incident or method being reported, usually those least to do with physical abuse, sound as if that’s all there was to the definition of torture, and then proceed to ignore the rest.

I have a feeling this Newsweek story fit that pattern, too. At least, the ‘sources’ must have known what they were doing.

160

RSL 05.17.05 at 6:43 am

As I’ve said before, the real culprit here is a lawless system of detention, cloaked in secrecy, and subject to no public oversight or ordinary checks and balances. In such an environment, the press has no choice but to rely on anonymous sources to get information. The press should be as careful as possible when using these anonymous sources, but they must not be intimidated by the possibility of an occasional mistake. If the press becomes intimidated by the administration (and it’s right-wing echo chamber) our democracy will be even more severely compromised. We don’t have “goverment of the people, by the people, for the people” when the administration does whatever it wants with no accountability to the public. We need to give the press as much leeway as possible to force that accountability against administrations who make every effort to avoid it.

161

corbetti 05.17.05 at 3:46 pm

156 – r

no, i’m 37 next week.

if you’d read my previous posts you might get a clue as to what my underlying point really was. i chose to be blunt because Jerry seems incapable of comprehending the actual source of the outrage that has spurred the rioters to violence – that for people who (regardless of faith) are actually fundamentalists (i.e., that they actually BELIEVE that their religion reallly IS sent to them by a God) the only logical response to the desecration of their religious texts (again, words from GOD) might be extreme violence. It happened before and will happen again.

As an athiest, I might envy the simplemindedness of blind faith for the comforts it may provide in day to day life, and also understand the motivations such a blind adherence can generate. But it doesn’t mean I subscribe to belief, just as I stopped believing in the tooth fairy and santa claus.

So how old are you?

162

abb1 05.17.05 at 4:12 pm

Not necessarily fundamentalists, although I suppose most probably are. But deliberate humiliation often produces violent reaction even without fundamentalism.

Try this: approach a random (Christian, Jewish or atheist) guy and spit into his face. See how he reacts. Hey, it’s just a little bit of saliva, couldn’t he just wash it off? Was this really a reason to act like a madman? What’s the big deal?

163

corbetti 05.17.05 at 4:29 pm

[quote]Not necessarily fundamentalists, although I suppose most probably are.[/quote]

abb1, when i use the term fundamentalist, I am sticking to a literal interpretation rather than the attempt to hijack the language to suit the political whims of the folks fighting the, ahem, “war on terror”. Those being the same people who actually manage to convince the sheeple in society that you can declare war on a noun.

a fundamentalist is one who subscribes to the fundamentals of the religion in question, and not what the politicos would have you think (“wild eyed radical”). contrast that with a modern day “religious” person who may profess a faith but does not really act in accordance with it. for example, it always amazes me when catholics get pissed off at the Vatican for taking a specific stance on, say, birth control, and want the rules changed. If you don’t believe in the teachings of a religion, change your religious affiliation, or create a new church – don’t try to change the “rules” of the church, because that would be like changing the word of the God you subscribe to…. see the inconsistency?

Anyways, sorry for the digression but I get tired of watching our already eubonicized language get further butchered by people with an agenda. In the same way I get sick of being told i’m “anti-semitic” because I criticize Zionism or Israel. Of course, it isn’t my jewish friends who call me anti-semitic. Now that is irony for you.

164

Jerry 05.17.05 at 10:30 pm

Corbetti: You usually get around to mentioning you’re an atheist. Why drop that? Can it be that it has dawned on you that nobody cares?

165

corbetti 05.17.05 at 11:10 pm

jerry-

i believe i mentioned it twice, which in your apparently limited (or Bush-like) grasp of the English language means “usually”.

I mentioned it because I assumed that otherwise you torture-apologist types would immediately chime in with “oh well you must be of (religion X) and that’s why you’re defending this behavior”.

I know it’s tough, but when you get to high school your reading comprehension *should* improve, so at least you have that to look forward to.

166

moni 05.18.05 at 2:06 am

You all might find this interesting:

What is lost in this Newsweek non-retraction story — and the week of cable-news segments and endless blog posts on the subject — is that U.S. forces reportedly gunned down protesters in Afghanistan, and that widespread anti-U.S. protests actually began three weeks ago, after U.S. airstrikes killed Afghan civilians in late April.

167

mq 05.18.05 at 10:00 am

“So, now the Republicans control the intelligence services France, the UK and all others who believed Saddam was working on WMDs?”

The right is still lying I see. These intelligence services did not believe that Saddam was anywhere at all close to producing WMDs in 2002. Not even the intelligence service of the UK believed this — this was the whole scandal of Tony Blair’s political people “sexing up” the actual intelligence the professionals had on Iraq.

The question of whether Saddam had a “program” of some sort that was “working” on something (that is, whether there were people in an office somewhere in Iraq thinking about how nice it would be to have WMDs) is different from the question of whether he had anything tangible that could actually be a threat to the U.S.

The administration trying to change the subject from the numerous corroborated reports of torture of Muslims and insults to Islam to whether a Pentagon source saw something written in a specific report is brilliant.

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