Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Hiding in the Easter basket

The WaPo’s Walter Pincus writes an article based on a round-table conference-call interview (transcript) of the guy who runs American detention facilities in Iraq, Maj. Gen. Douglas Stone by several “defense bloggers,” whatever they might be (one asked whether we could use robots as guards), about the US military’s attempt to de-program Muslim extremists among the 25,000 prisoners we are holding (and more each month), some of them as young as 11. “Religious enlightenment,” they call it. And honestly, a bunch of (presumably) non-Muslim occupiers trying to alter the religious outlook of captured Iraqis, what could possibly be wrong with that? (Note as well that 83% of the prisoners are Sunni, which is a tad disproportionate.)

Stone says he reads the Koran every day, but let’s see if we can detect a hint as to his actual religion in this quote about Muslim extremists: “They’re like rotten eggs, you know, hiding in the Easter basket”. Nevertheless, Stone feels able to talk about “fraudulent imams” and prisoners’ “misunderstanding” of the Koran. He likes to talk about this as the “battlefield of the brain” and says his goal is to “turn these guys and spin them around”. “We’re out here because war is an act of force and we’re going to compel this enemy to do our will. And our will is that the moderates are going to win out. And so everybody that’s in my detention is either going to go out doing that, because that’s what will -- our will is, or they’re not going out.”

And how does he know that prisoners who claim to have changed their religious views in response to these programs actually have? Polygraphs, of course.

Stone says Iraqi VP Tariq al-Hashimi told him that the US could win the war if only it could do the same thing to the whole of Iraq. Er, Stoney, I’m not sure he really wanted actual Iraqis to find out that he said something like that.

Stone spoke approvingly of an incident two weeks ago, when moderate Muslim prisoners attacked radical Muslim prisoners: “Found them, identified them, threw them up against the fence, and shaved their frickin’ beards off of them. That, I mean, that is historic.” Yes, if by historic you mean that much of world history does indeed consist of people attacking each other over religious differences. And clearly Iraq needs more of that sort of thing.

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