Gitmo prisoners abusing Koran

Max Boot says:

All the headlines about “Abuse of the Koran at Gitmo” are absolutely accurate. Brig. Gen. Jay Hood’s internal investigation has uncovered some shocking incidents. On at least six occasions, Korans were ripped up. They were urinated on three times, and attempts were made to flush them down the toilet at least three other times.

Why aren’t millions of Muslims rioting in response to these defilements? Because the perpetrators were prisoners, not guards. As John Hinderaker notes on, the most serious desecrations of the Koran at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility were committed by the Muslim inmates themselves.
Far from confirming accusations of American depravity, what the report actually shows is that Guantanamo is the first gulag in history run on the principle that no sensibility of the inmates should be offended, no matter how inadvertently.
The Hood report suggests that, for the most part, this elaborate etiquette is obeyed. The worst lapse, splashed (so to speak) across front pages around the world, occurred March 25, when a guard urinated outside an air vent and some of his urine blew into a cell and onto an inmate and his Koran. Human rights absolutists should be relieved (sorry, can’t help myself) to know that the detainee received a fresh uniform and a new Koran, and the guard was reprimanded and reassigned.

That’s the most heinous case of Koran abuse by Gitmo personnel. The four other verified incidents involved an interrogator kicking a Koran, guards accidentally getting a Koran wet with water, an interrogator (subsequently fired) stepping on a Koran and a “two-word obscenity” mysteriously appearing on the inside cover of a Koran.
More serious incidents of Koran abuse by Americans conceivably could come to light, but it is clear that anyone who did so would be acting against orders. Reading the Hood report — which is by one count the 189th (no kidding) Defense Department investigation of how prisoners in the war on terrorism are treated — I couldn’t help but think: Too bad Muslims don’t show the same exquisite concern for the sensibilities of others.

Robert in the comments of an earlier post suggests that the Newsweek report of a Koran being flushed down the toilet and implicitly other systemic abuse is “reasonably accurate.” I suppose it depends on what the meaning of “accurate” is.

In that comment Robert also says that Guantanimo has been a symbol of malintent. Perhaps that is because the mdiea reports every allegation of prisoner abuse as if it was fact and is skeptical of any claims by or for the US. Heather MacDonald notes:

It may be true that Guantanamo Bay has become synonymous with lawlessness throughout vast swathes of the Western and Muslim worlds. But no one is more responsible for that reputation than the New York Times, Newsweek, the Washington Post, and other mainstream media outlets, which have never encountered a prisoner-abuse story that they didn’t find credible and worthy of broadcast.

Read the whole thing for details of the misreportage and active spin against the facility and implicitly. But the best coverage of this issue is Lileks He quotes an article in Time magazine on the “torture” at Guantanamo and comments:

The techniques Rumsfeld balked at included “use of a wet towel or dripping water to induce the misperception of suffocation.” “Our Armed Forces are trained,” a Pentagon memo on the changes read, “to a standard of interrogation that reflects a tradition of restraint.” Nevertheless, the log shows that interrogators poured bottles of water on al-Qahtani’s head when he refused to drink. Interrogators called this game “Drink Water or Wear It.”

This is how articles are written, conventional wisdom chopped pressed and formed: the techniques Rumsfeld “balked at” – meaning, I assume, did not permit – did not include actual suffocation, but the use of a wet towel that would induce the misperception of an emanation of a penumbra of suffocation. NEVERTHELESS. Key word, that. Lines crossed not in fact but in spirit. He balked at fake suffocation, aye; NEVERTHELESS the climate of pain and retribution did not forbid men from freely dumping bottles of Dasani on the heads of the detainees. Why, it was a game to the interrogators. “Drink Water or Wear it.” Spiritually, it’s a first cousin to Saddam’s game, “Use Tongue Then Lose It.”

After the new measures are approved, the mood in al-Qahtani’s interrogation booth changes dramatically. The interrogation sessions lengthen. The quizzing now starts at midnight, and when Detainee 063 dozes off, interrogators rouse him by dripping water on his head or playing Christina Aguilera music.

Djinni in a bottle, no doubt.

According to the log, his handlers at one point perform a puppet show “satirizing the detainee’s involvement with al-Qaeda.”

So Doug is part of the torture crew, then. From the ever-prescient Pythons:

Vercotti: Doug (takes a drink) Well, I was terrified. Everyone was terrified of Doug. I’ve seen grown men pull their own heads off rather than see Doug. Even Dinsdale was frightened of Doug.

2nd Interviewer: What did he do?

Vercotti: He used… sarcasm. He knew all the tricks, dramatic irony, metaphor, bathos, puns, parody, litotes and… satire. He was vicious.

Lileks is incredibly funny and it is worth reading the whole thing for the humor alone, but his point is brutually clear. This is spin by the US media not any actual abuse and certainly not anything the rest of the world would otherwise recognize as abuse.

He is taken to a new interrogation booth, which is decorated with pictures of 9/11 victims, American flags and red lights. He has to stand for the playing of the U.S. national anthem.

Okay, this is torture. But only if you’re interrogating a poster on the Democratic Underground.

His head and beard are shaved. He is returned to his original interrogation booth. A picture of a 9/11 victim is taped to his trousers. Al-Qahtani repeats that he will “not talk until he is interrogated the proper way.”

Meaning what? Forced to kneel before a camera and confess you’re a Jew before your head is sawed off?

In addition to more coverage of the abuse of people, the MSM coverage also neglects coverage of the abuse of our symbols. Gateway Pundit notes:

It is interesting how the news media today will jump on a story if it denigrates our military or our country. The media may get their facts from an anonymous source and rush to print it in a major newspaper or weekly magazine. The story may turn out to be inaccurate. The original accuser may even retract his accusations. But, the damage is already done and our media moves on to their next anonymous sourced Anti-American story.

Yet, here tonight there is actual footage of Muslims burning, spitting on, and making urinals out off our American Flag. And, as US citizens we are supposed to get immuned to a lot of this. Many people believe that we even deserve this! We constantly see Muslims spit on and burn effigies of our president, threaten our country with the words (in English) on their posters, spit on the symbols of our nation, and now today, piss on our flag and our president!

Read the posts to see the imagery of these protests. He catalogs a bunch of protests that were not covered by the major media.

At the end of his post, Robert calls me to account for demanding more responsibility of Newsweek and the other MSM. He thinks I am being inconsistent or irresponsible for calling Newsweek to account for its lies. He is intent on protecting Newsweek from any sort of legal liability associated with the deaths it caused. He implicitly admits that Newsweek is guilty of its crimes even as he explicitly tries to deny it. He just suggests that the punishment should be competition from other media. I’m ok with that punishment, but then I expect explicit condemnation of newsweek’s reportage from people like Robert, not mealy mouthed defense as “reasonably accurate.” Robert when you stand up and say that people should stop subscribing to Newsweek while they are being this irresponsible with the truth, I will back down on demanding punishment.


3 Responses to Gitmo prisoners abusing Koran

  1. ooghe says:

    Strong words and righteous indignation abound here- but sifting through these explanations of what goes on at Guantanamo does little to convince me of your actual case against Newsweek. As far as I can tell, an anonynmous source said a Koran was flushed and rather, the Pentagon says a Koran was stomped on. Or urinated on. Through a vent. That happened to be next to a urinal. Mmm-kay- whatever, my intent is not to persuade you to back down on your claims against Newsweek, just to demonstrate that your outrage against a political point of view is just that- you’re not really arguing a particular ‘standard’ here. If you are, then please-to-be-removing your various gen-yoo-ine scientific studies claiming that Fox News is not biased. That’s not an implicit admission of guilt, I’m just allowing that Newsweek may subjectively be too liberal for you. In the legal structure you seem to be advocating though, perhaps that does indeed constitute legal “guilt”. Offhand I think what’s getting people’s dander up is the whole *concept* of anonymous sources- Witness the revealingly hostile reaction to the revelation of Deep Throat- and the crocodile tears being shed over another 17 dead Islamists (pop-quiz- how many non-terrorists die in any given military operation that may or may not be based on bad intelligence gleaned from interrogations?) are a patina meant to discourage *any* critical reportage that is not explicitly validated by the government.

    Rather than ban Newsweek, I believe people have the right to subscribe to whatever news source they want to- be it Newsweek, the ISO Daily, the John Birch Society newsletter or whatever. I don’t subscribe to Newsweek because I don’t like retro-seventies canary yellow headlines asking “Is the DaVinci Code TRUE?”, but I don’t compare it to Tokyo Rose and try to criminalize it.

    Anyway, advocate the creation of a constitutionally mandatory “How-Much-Will-It-Offend-Central-Asia-Ometer” and we can discuss whether or not Newsweek is guilty of anything. As for your libel case though, if you were as concerned for civil liberties as you say you are you would realize that the Newsweek article didn’t name a private citizen, didn’t even name a *public official*- you’re just saying that the government doesn’t like it so the mean liberals should go to jail. Good luck getting that argument to stick in any marginally democratic system. That’s what I’m standing up for.

  2. Morgan says:

    What I think is interesting about all this is, what we choose to criticize and what we choose to remain silent about as proportions to each other. I mean, whether it is true or not, all of this anger at the US government because a soldier might have flushed a Koran down a toilet or urinated on it? That is of course bad behavior. And also, we live in a world where men today murder others *by the thousands* (see Somalia), where murderous brutally dictators massacre men for being homosexual (see Fidel), and so on and so on — and we’re complaining about the fact that an American soldier may have urinated on a Koran???? Here’s what I think: it’s not unfair to criticize bad behavior (such as, there is nothing inherently wrong or bad about criticizing this American soldier’s bad behavior for urinated on the Koran–in fact, criticizing this bad behavior in and of itself is perfectly reasonable); but, to criticize bad behavior but to NOT criticize WORSE behavior IN EQUAL PROPORTION to how much worse it is it is (ie, now criticizing 100x as loudly something that is 100x as worse) is deeply unfair, dangerous, and I would go so far as to say immoral. Because, it then reveals to the world that it’s not “righteous indignation” but rather your own motives, whatever they may be, that make you yell at one minor wrong but not yell in equal proportion to the greater wrong. Right? Does my logic hold?


  3. ooghe says:

    I think taking a big picture view that takes context into consideration is generally a good idea so long as it does not allow you to take such a broad view that it divorces you from common sense ethics. Political science gone wrong is when someone says “Sure China may jail a few poets, but they’re trying to govern a billion people, after all.”

    At least on this blog, which is the first I heard of the Newsweek incident, the debate we are having is over at which point does the communication of an anonymous tip become a socially irresponsible act worthy of sanction. That is a different debate than the egregiousness of Guantanamo versus other acts of political violence, because it specifically concerns the way we allow ourselves to communicate, or in a larger way- what kind of civilization we want to live in.

    On some level, I might agree that smearing a Muslim with menstrual blood is not as bad as a journalist being beheaded, or thousands being killed in Darfur. That would indeed be a very interesting moral debate to which there are no easy answers. Frankly, I don’t have one and if I did you shouldn’t necessarily trust it. What the media allows, so long as it is not mandatorily rammed down people’s throats as state propaganda, is enough information for people to be able to reach a concensus among themselves. But Alex is making this particular point from the position that this information should never have been made available in the first place because some people died, which leads to the logic of saying that chinese poets should be jailed because they fill people’s heads with funny ideas.

    I actually don’t think Alex really believes that, I think he’s angry at the media and initially believed that this incident would be a clear rebuke to people who attack Bush for having based the Iraq war on misinformation. Now because it seems that abuses did occur, we’re discussing *how bad were those abuses compared to all the other evil in this*, whereas what I’m still interested in is exactly what objective standards is Alex upholding by continuing to call for Newsweek’s head, and is he willing to allow this standard in a context where his political sympathies lay elsewhere.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: