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Total abomination.

What happened at Gitmo (WaPo, free registration req'd)?

FBI agents witnessed possible mistreatment of the Koran at the militaryprison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, including at least one instance inwhich an interrogator squatted over Islam's holy text in an apparentattempt to offend a captive, according to bureau documents releasedyesterday.

snip

The reports amount to new and separate allegations of religiouslyoriented tactics used against Muslim prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Afteran erroneous report of Koran abuse prompted deadly protests overseas in2005, the U.S. military conducted an investigation that confirmed fiveincidents of intentional and unintentional mishandling the book at thedetention facility. They acknowledged that soldiers and interrogatorshad kicked the Koran, had stood on it and, in one case, hadinadvertently sprayed urine on a copy.

The reports releasedyesterday were the result of an internal survey conducted in 2004 bythe FBI, which asked nearly 500 employees who had served at GuantanamoBay to report possible mistreatment by law enforcement or militarypersonnel. More than two dozen incidents were reported, including somethat the government had revealed in earlier document releases.

snip

In a previously unreported allegation, one interrogator bragged toan FBI agent that he had forced a prisoner to listen to "Satanic blackmetal music for hours," then dressed as a Catholic priest before"baptizing" him.

One agent reported being told that whilequestioning male captives, female interrogators would sometimes wettheir hands and touch detainees' faces in order to interrupt theirprayers. Such actions would make some Muslims consider themselvesunclean and unable to continue praying.

snip

In a previously unreported allegation, one interrogator bragged toan FBI agent that he had forced a prisoner to listen to "Satanic blackmetal music for hours," then dressed as a Catholic priest before"baptizing" him.

One agent reported being told that whilequestioning male captives, female interrogators would sometimes wettheir hands and touch detainees' faces in order to interrupt theirprayers. Such actions would make some Muslims consider themselvesunclean and unable to continue praying.

snip

"The Department of Defense policy is clear -- we treat detaineeshumanely," [Pentagon spokeman] Carpenter said. "The United States operates safe, humane andprofessional detention operations for enemy combatants who areproviding valuable information in the war on terror."

Read the rest, and be assured that the United States is treating its prisoners humanely, keeping Americans safe by extracting useful information from those whose sacred objects its interrogators sometimes urinate on.

Comments

Commenting Guidelines

Mr. Gallicho's concern for the sensitivities of Gitmo detainees is touching. For myself, I will again play the part of "The Tarantula on the Wedding Cake" and state unequivocally that I couldn't possibly care less.The homicidal sociopaths detained at Gitmo deserve a lot worse, and here's hoping they get it.Alas, it is one of the glaring failures in my pathetic attempts to practice the Catholic faith that I think and feel this way, but there it is. I guess I'm one of the people that makes our Lord weep. So be it.

Mr. Schwartz, since those alleged homicidal sociopaths have never been tried in a court of law of any sort how do you know that they are in fact homicidal sociopaths? And being a homicidal sociopath is not in itself illegal. Committing unjustified homicide, yes, wanting to kill and being sociopathic without acting on it -- no. There are no doubt some prisoners for whom there are actual charges that could be substantiated by actual evidence. Let's try them. As I understand it, however, most of the Gitmo prisoners have slowly been released because there is no evidence of their guilt of any actionable offense. Some of those remaining are there because the U.S. can't figure out where they should go back to, not because they have done anything for which they would justly be detained.

I'm sure that the millions of Muslims that are following the story will feel Mr Schwart's pain and will also agree that pissing on the Koran in a just cause is simply a good professional interrogation technique. I think that that technique (and the others)were developed in the neocon "Die Eeeenfeedel, Aaaaiiieee" school of anti-Islamic counter terrorism studies.

Mr. unagidon:Just to be clear, I don't care what millions of Muslims think or feel. I only care about what they do, and what they do is, first of all, enthusiatically butcher each other (Shi'ites and Sunnis), revile Jews and threaten their extermination, hate human liberty, and consider women as chattel. In addition, they plot to kill as many American women and children as possible (something about 72 virgins), and impose a world wide ialamic dictatorship.It is for the above reasons that I started reading the Quran, and the Life of Muhammad (A. Guillaume translation of Ibn Ishaq's Sirit Rasul Allah). What I'm finding is quite appalling. Jesus never said anything like that, but what does He know?

Bob Schwartz! Never heard of our Civil War? How about the Thirty Years War? 9/11 is polyanna compared to them. How about violence in the Bible. http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/cruelty/long.htmlWe can only stop violence, war and terror when we refuse to imitiate them. Cfr. The story of the Good Samaritan.

Mr. Schwartz, I personally am a friend of a young Muslim couple who would never --- I repeat, never --- approve of the stuff you readily attribute to "millions of Muslims."I also know of a retired Muslim academic very much involved in interfaith and ecumenical activities in our community. I have no doubt he would condemn the kinds of stuff (for lack of a better word) you attribute to "millions of Muslims."The hatred and bigotry reflected in your comments speak loudly about the direction from which you come.

Bill: Nice to hear again from an opponent I have immense respect for. I admire your feistiness and grumpy decency.Joe:Ah, the Bigotry card! I should have expected that someone would play it. Its a fair enough card to play; I've used it myself on occaision, along with the Hypocrisy card. I used to be offended and intimidated when called an anti-islamic bigot, but what the hell, I am what I am.Why am I an anti-islamic bigot? (you see, I accept the name - since that is what you believe me to be). Mostly, its the overwhelmingly lethargic response of the American Islamic community to 9/11 that turned me into one. That and the dancing in the streets; I'm sure you remember. As liberals like to ask, where is the outrage, the passion? And when some somewhat sympathetic response is made, it is many times accompanied by whining and sniveling about profiling and the way muslims are oppressed by Jews.I would be happy to hear from your Muslim friends about what I have said. I will provide my email and home addresses if they wish to vent to me. I promise to be civil, but not necessarily polite.Bob Schwartz (St. Rose of Lima Parish)1118 Sycamore Dr.Simi Valley, CA 93065(805) 527-5101robert3691@sbcglobal.net

Mr Schwartz, if we go to war on the basis of our well intentioned defense of civilized values, then I think we had better be worried about what millions of Muslims think.I really can't understand where your position comes from. If it is purely a desire for revenge, the so be it. But let's then drop the pretense of an American moral high ground. If it is the case that our intentions are so pure that none of our actions can reflect negatively on them, then you are inhabiting a world of pure ideas and I'm afraid that the discussion will have to end here. If you argue that the interrogation techniques used were simply utilitarian, I can tell you from my own direct experiences with Arabs in the Middle East that they were likely not effective, based as they seem to have been on some people's Orientalist fantasies about Islam. The interrogators should be discharged for stupidity.

Mr. unagidon: You stated that,"I really can't understand where your position comes from."Its really very straightforward: I believe that the main thrust of Islam is that the world polity must be converted to an Islamic entity, by any and all means necessary, including suicide bombings that explicitly target the innocent. That Judeo-Christian civilization (and all of the behavioral norms* we, you and I, take serenely for granted) and is directly in harm's way. That we are in a real war with Islam, a war that can only end with either victory or defeat for us.And to be entirely candid, I do not trust anyone whose initial emotional response to any attack on our nation or our troops is to blame us; to me such a person's committment to our nation and our civization is already mortally compromised. *Yes, I know: How then can I approve of what you call torture as an interrogative tool? You may now play the Hypocrisy card - I just don't care. Hey, no one's perfect...

[[Its really very straightforward: I believe that the main thrust of Islam is that the world polity must be converted to an Islamic entity, by any and all means necessary...]]If you substitute "Evangelical Christianity" for Islam, you would have a concise statement of what your counterparts in Al Qaeda are saying about us.

Mr. unagidon:So Al Qaeda believes that Evangelical Christians explicitly target women and children for butchering? I don't think so. The Al Qaeda folks are extremely sophisticated about Western (read: White) guilt. They understand that our major media are dominated by white liberals who's personal sense of guilt is translated into self-unacknowledged hatred of Judeo-Christian civilization, and they expertly manipulate such liberals into carrying their water.They love to see the incessant hand-wringing in journals like Commonweal and National Catholic Reporter, and of course when they can even recruit the New Oxford Review (which has explicitly stated that "the war on terror is a delusion"), well, their cup runneth over.Am I saying that you are carrying water for Al Qaeda? Sadly, I have to say yes. I'm sorry, its not personal and I'm sure you mean well, but there it is.

unagidon,In the words of my teenage daughter, "Oh, puhleeeeaaase!"This type of hyperbole and nonsensical moral equivalence is why many, like me, have a hard time taking anything so-called progressives say on such matters seriously. As Mr. Schwartz said above, there is something disturbing about people whose reflexive reaction is to blame the US for anything and everything regardless of the facts.This sort of RosieO'Donnell, Jerry Falwell = Osama bin Laden and Bush = Hitler is utter nonsense. There is a big difference between opposing gay marriage and wanting to slaughter gay people. When you morally conflate the two real discussion stops.I think this whole discussion is a good example. Assuming everything said above is true - something which I only do for the sake or argument having had my own WaPo experience with inaccurate reporting - does this mean that there is a systemic problem? Does it mean the US is on the wrong side - evil? Every system has abuses - every one. Have you ever been inside a European jail? Believe me, for all their supposed respect for human rights, you would rather be in jail in Mississippi than in Italy. The US treats incarcerated people, including prisoners of war, more humanely than any other country in the history of mankind. Any reports of abuse ought to be not only measured by that standard, but also weighed against that fact.Barbara,No prisoner of war, legal or illegal, has been tried by a civilian court in the country that captured him (unless he committed a crime after being captured) since the turn of the 20th century - that is not ever, as in never, ever. There was a system for trying the GTMO detainees using a system (military commissions - that were used extensively following WWII and have long been recognized as legitimate under the Geveva Conventions) that was far more thorough and fair than any other for treatment of wartime detainees ever has been, but it is not being used because of litigation by the same human rights groups that are complaining the loudest that there have been no trials. They don't want fair trials, they want litigation.

Sean H, although sometimes I get mixed up about which abused prison population is considered to have which rights, as you must realize, those in Gitmo are not considered POWs. And in truth, they probably are not POWs -- but calling them enemy combatants or whatever makes it extremely problematic, because POWs are never tried; they are returned home and they always receive the benefit of Geneva Conventions. The detainees at Gitmo basically are in legal limbo, with no regularized status. Their claim, as I understand it, is, if they are not POWs then they should have rights in accordance with those of ordinary prisoners. That was rejected, and so there is now some intermediary standard that is now being challenged because, among other principles, it tries to prevent them from actually seeing the evidence against them if someone declares it to be classified. I honestly doubt that they are just interested in litigation. There is a great deal at stake for them, and they are likely to lose whatever liberty they might hope for if they accept a trial that is stacked against them.

Mr Schwartz: We've killed more civilians than Al Qaeda has, by a long shot. We think our reasons are good. They think their reasons are good. They think they are defending their religion. You think we are defending our religion. You seem to have answered my original question. You are an idealist. Your obsession with people's perceived internal psychological states shows this as much as anything.Mr Sean: I'm not a liberal and I am not a "progressive". But I am also not a knee jerk radical nationalist, say, like you appear to be. If you want to talk to me about what I actually said rather than what you think other people are saying, fine. Otherwise, address your comments to the people who said those things.For both of you: It appears that both of you are doing something that few people on the so-called right are doing nowadays. Confusing the purpose of the war with the conduct of the war. The purpose of the war was immoral and the conduct of the war deeply incompetant (including the actions of these interrogators) but these things are still separate issues.

" We think our reasons are good. They think their reasons are good. They think they are defending their religion. You think we are defending our religion."I'm sorry, Mr. unagidon, but I don't accept the implied moral equivalence between us and them. I believe that I have the ability and education to look at what's happening in this arena and use logic and reason to sort it out. You obviously believe that I don't. Looks like an impasse to me.As for my being an idealist, I'm not. Why is that even relevant? The only thing relevant is whether or not my statements are true or not true. You pays your money and you takes your choice.

[[I'm sorry, Mr. unagidon, but I don't accept the implied moral equivalence between us and them. I believe that I have the ability and education to look at what's happening in this arena and use logic and reason to sort it out. You obviously believe that I don't. Looks like an impasse to me.As for my being an idealist, I'm not. Why is that even relevant? The only thing relevant is whether or not my statements are true or not true. You pays your money and you takes your choice.]]I am not saying that there is a moral equivalence between us. But you have offered nothing but your assertions. If you came up with an actual argument, I would be happy to address it. Your idealism is relevant because you seem to be saying that the "truth" of your statements is self evident. Well, they're not. And you might think that your conclusion is the same conclusion that someone actually making an argument would reach and therefore you don't need to make one yourself. But your premises are deeply flawed and lead to all sorts of bad places.

Mr. unagidon:Forgive me, but I must say I believe you are being disingenuous when you say that you aren't asserting moral equivalence between the U.S and Al Qaeda. Your statement in question was meant to imply something; what was it?And if you would be so kind as to define and enumerate my premises and assertions you say require to be justified, I will do my best to accomodate you.

Mr. Schwartz, at least you accept the label.Why the lethargic response of U.S. Muslims to 9/11? I don't know. Maybe you could reach out to your Muslim neighbors and try to find out? Simi Valley. Isn't that a largely white, "America, love it or leave it" enclave?

Joe:"Simi Valley. Isn't that a largely white, "America, love it or leave it" enclave?"I take this as a purely rhetorical question intended both to elicit from me a measure of guilt (in your dreams) and as a statement of genteel contempt for both America and white people. But that's OK, I'm rough and tough, I can take the abuse.You may need to rethink your attempts to make me feel bad - your efforts so far have fallen somewhat short. Now, if you really wanted to hurt me, you might try attacking, say, some of my musical heroes John Coltrane, Michael Brecker, Miles Davis, Igor Stravinsky, Bela Bartok, and (believe it or not) Barbra Streisand, she of the execrable political positions, but the most glorious voice in pop music. But I digress.

Barbara,The detainees are unlawful combatants. That is people who have taken up arms in combat in a manner not in compliance with the laws of war. They are entitled to none, repeat, none of the rights of POW's. Niether are they entitled to any of the rights of the American civilian legal system. They are war criminals. Their only protection is under common artlcle III of the Geneva conventions which only requires the use of a "regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples." This does not equal the US civilian court system. Until recently, no one ever thought so. The use of courts-martial and military tribunals has always been considered adequate.As for litigation, I am talking about the lawyers. Even their, they don't want due process, they want them freed regardless of what they have done. Dozens of the GTMO detainees that everyone seems so concerned about would already have been repatriated if the lawyers who so want to protect their rights would have allowed the process to go forward. Almost one hundred would have been freed except their own countries (remember these are not Afghans, but foreigners who were killing and terrorizing Afghans) won't take them back because they are too dangerous.

Sean H: "That is people who have taken up arms in combat in a manner not in compliance with the laws of war. "I think a large part of the problem is that it is not at all clear that all of the people we are holding actually fall under this definition. Based on news reports, studies, and other information that has made it into the public domain, it is almost certain that some of those being held do not meet this definition.In my understanding, when people complain about the lack of due process at Gitmo and other detainee facilities, they are primarily talking of this failure to discriminate between actual combatants and those who have been simply unlucky enough to have been swept up by the American detention system (e.g. being sold out on false testimony by a neighbor with a vendetta, being in the wrong building at the wrong time, having a name similar to someone on a list, etc).

Mr Schwartz, thank you for continuing to engage me.I think you are making two major errors in your approach to the topic. And I think I know where they come from. My statements will have to be brief, but I can expand on them later if you wish.It is simply a fact that directly after the 9/11 attacks world support was overwhelmingly sympathetic to the United States, and that includes the Muslim world. Most of the major Islamic teaching and theological centers condemned both the 9/11 attacks and the criminal organization called Al Qaeda. In assuming otherwise, you are making two errors. First, rather than looking for evidence of the nature of Muslim outrage in their terms, you are requiring them to show it in your terms and to present this proof to you via the limited means that you apparently have at your disposal. And second, and more seriously, you then move to hold the general Muslim population culpable for the crimes of a splinter minority.You have characterized Islam as violent based on your own reading of a couple of basic texts. If you continued your reading and included Islamic analyses of their own primary texts, you would find that Islamic scholars are very well aware of the social context of those texts and can distinguish between general and universal prescriptions (which promote peace, tolerance, and the search for Truth) and those prescriptions made by Muhammad to his direct followers in the time when they were experiencing a certain kind of direct persecution. In this case, you make two errors similar to those I point out above. By not looking more deeply, you are treating the Koran in a way that its believers do not (generally), which is, as a book without a context. This is not, incidentally, how the Catholic Church reads our own Bible, but it is how some Protestant sects read it. You then ignore a millennium and a half of Islamic thought and project your findings on the Islamic population as a whole.Your errors are mirrored by some in the Islamic world and we see this when they, in effect, substitute Christian for Muslim and Bible for Koran in what are otherwise the same arguments that you make. Your errors are, in fact, an ancient form of human thought. To get at the root of your errors in this case, we need to look at what Al Qaeda was and what it has become. Al Qaeda was until 9/11 a criminal organization centered on what we Catholics used to refer to as a heresy (albeit in this case it is an Islamic heresy). The fact that it is a heresy is why it has been consistently condemned by mainstream Islam. Heresies are dangerous not because they are pure lies but because they always contain a grain of truth. The grain of truth is their entre to society and it is in this sense and in this sense only that we can say that even Al Qaeda has a point. Al Qaeda formerly had a small group of active followers and SOME of their tenets had SOME sympathetic followers in SOME Islamic countries. But Al Qaeda was outlawed in all Islamic countries save one Afghanistan. In the Islamic world, Afghanistan is about as far from mainstream civilization one can get. It has a modern parallel in form of the relationship of Pol Pots Cambodia relative to the modern Marxist world. It was a freak. Al Qaeda got lucky on 9/11. Im not referring to the attack itself, which was more a product of the US refusing (because of consumer sentiment) to enact basic airline security measures that had already been instituted in Israel and Europe for two decades. Al Qaeda got lucky because our incompetent government decided to recognize this criminal organization as a social movement. We then proceeded to compound the error by invading an Islamic country with our Christian army to engage in some social engineering. Before we did this, a physical invasion of the Islamic world by the West was just an Al Qaeda pipe dream and was treated as much by the general Islamic public. But we then proceeded to make the pipe dream come true.Since the US has recast Al Qaeda and its heresy as a social movement, American radical nationalists of the so-called right have been working for a means to prove it, which is how the threat from a criminal splinter group became transformed into a threat from the entire Islamic world that suddenly aims to put all of us under a Caliphate. Of course, the general public is not going to dig too deeply into this nonsense. The people who do dig into it and report that it is indeed nonsense are easily marginalized by our liberal press that proclaims that it is self evident that if the entire Islamic world does not enthusiastically get behind the policies of the Republican Party (where is their outrage?) they must be harboring evil intentions.The antidote to your errors at the most basic level is the Golden Rule. If you dont want Abu Ghraib to be the proof of Americas real intentions, then you cant call 9/11 proof of theirs. If you dont want the Islamic world to treat our troops as Crusaders based on a shallow and biased reading of our Bible and our history, then you cant then read their Koran and their history in the same fashion. You have said that you dont care what the Islamic world thinks. This is your real problem. If you dont care, you undercut any possibility of discussion, understanding, and compassion. And from a purely Christian point of view, you are disregarding one of your primary responsibilities as a Christian. You are not pursuing the Truth.

Mr Schweiger,A few points. First, the great majority of the people in GTMO are people captured in Afghanistan, and the significant majority of them are not Afghans. From friends of mine who have had the pleasure of serving in that country, it is not a vacation spot nor is it a magnet for job hunters. These various Saudis, Somalis, Egyptians, Pakistanis, Chinese, and Indonesians were not vacationing.Are there people who fit your description? Probably. The US itself admits that there are dozens who don't belong there but that they can't release for practical or procedural reasons - e.g. their own countries won't take them.In a perfect world there would be a perfect system. But the real world involves unknown risks (already several GTMO detainees that were released have been recaptured or killed in engagements with allied forces). The system in place is trying to address those risks and balance the safety and security of others against what is just for the detainees. What is the balance? On which side do you err?Although I don't agree with everything Mr Schwartz has said, I share his utter befuddlement at the type of moral equivalence and opinions like the ones above that reflect thesignificant numbers of westerners, and many Americans who, it seems who hold the following view:America is, either wholely or partly, to blame for 9/11 - that is, through her bahavior the US has created the motivation for her enemies and that through changing that behavior or "engaging" others we can make the motivation go away.There are two ways to look at this. First, is it even true? The second way, I think, is more productive, which is to accept at least part of it that is that some American behavior does motivate the enemy. That's a fair assessment. But does that mean that we want to change the behavior? Opponents of the war on terror like to focus on American foreign policy and things like GTMO, but even if we changed that, would it be enough? If tomorrow we abandoned Israel, released all the GTMO prisoners and left the middle east, would this solve the problem in the long run?The behaviors that lie at the heart of the problem aren't these things, they are the things that make us Americans. They are things like religious and political plurality, free markets, artistic and cultural liberty. Even if American soldiers aren't invading their countries, American and western culture will. Mr. Schwartz is right, in the long run the Islamicists want us to either converted or dead. They even say so. Why don't we believe them?

Mr. unagidon:You are making me work way too hard! Since there is so much to respond to, and given my time limitations, I will have to do it on a piecemeal basis. I realize that this methodology may become unwieldy but, well, there it is. So, here is my response to your statement,"First, rather than looking for evidence of the nature of Muslim outrage in their terms, you are requiring them to show it in your terms and to present this proof to you via the limited means that you apparently have at your disposal."You will note that I referred to the "American Islamic community". My expectations for the offshore Islamic community are not the same. Since our obsession with political correctness requires us to be concerned with the sensitivities of other cultures, I require and expect that American Muslims be concerned with the sensitivities of non-Muslim Americans (the majority of us) and thus express their outrage at 9/11 in terms that non-Muslim American citizens can reasonably interpret as an acceptable and sincere statement of their love and commitment to America. That is my stand on that issue, and I will not retreat from it in any way. More later.

Sean - Thanks for your response. You mention the question of moral equivalence. This is the hear to the matter for me - I believe it important to draw a moral distinction between our actions and those of the terrorists, and many of the actions pursued by the Bush administration trouble me because they in fact create a moral equivalence.The gravest moral flaw of terrorism is that it fails to distinguish between combatants and non-combatants (some might say it's greatest flaw is its willingness to use violence for political ends, but by that standard all non-pacifist systems, including ours, are wrong). The failure of the US to distinguish between the guilty and the innocent, then, is the same moral failure the terrorists make. Every independent (that is, non-government sponsored) report, and even some government-sponsored reports, of what we are doing at Gitmo and other detention facilities casts grave doubt on whether we are truly distinguishing between combatants and non-combatants. Talk of releasing prisoners is a red herring - I don't think any serious critic of Gitmo has ever called for that, so let's stop pretending they are. What critics are calling for is due process that actually attempts to distinguish between the guilty and the innocent, instead of the current blanket approach that begins with a presumption of guilt by association.The POW system and the civil courts are often looked to for examples because, unlike the "enemy combatant" system, they are established sytems that contain due process and rule of law. Surely you can see why, given the existence of available, established systems, the administration's desire to create something from scratch strikes many as a cynical attempt to avoid established systems of due process?

POW system - fine by me. Under that system they may be held without trial or review of status until the cessation of hostilities. This, of course will let the ones who have murdered innocent civilians off without punishment.As for the civilian court system, one should be careful what one wishes for. There may be just a few hundred prisoners at GTMO now, but how will we handle future conflicts? What if five years from now we are engaged in a similar conflict and there are thousands? Do we want soldiers Mirandizing the enemy in the field? Do we want to release classified information to a bunch of civilian lawyers?The use of military tribunals IS an established system of due process. The regulations establishing the post 9/11 commissions were virtually identical to the ones used to try hundreds of Nazis and Japanese war criminals after WWII, and that were repeatedly upheld as Constitutional by federal courts. Many aquittals and very reasonable sentences resulted from those commissions. They were considered a model for international justice.The crux of the complaints about the process are that they don't equal the standard US criminal justice system. So what? International law only requires "the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples." That doesn't mean habeas corpus or guranteed trial by jury. If it does, then France, Germany, Italy, all of Eastern Europe, and almost all the rest of the world aren't civilized - indeed almost every country that signed the Geneva Conventions doesn't follow this minimal standard in their own countries! Forget about the International Red Cross investigating GTMO, they need to start with the Geneva City Jail.

[[There are two ways to look at this. First, is it even true? The second way, I think, is more productive, which is to accept at least part of it that is that some American behavior does motivate the enemy. That's a fair assessment. But does that mean that we want to change the behavior? Opponents of the war on terror like to focus on American foreign policy and things like GTMO, but even if we changed that, would it be enough? If tomorrow we abandoned Israel, released all the GTMO prisoners and left the middle east, would this solve the problem in the long run?The behaviors that lie at the heart of the problem aren't these things, they are the things that make us Americans. They are things like religious and political plurality, free markets, artistic and cultural liberty. Even if American soldiers aren't invading their countries, American and western culture will. ]]Sean, you seem to be making a remarkable leap between your first paragraph here, which is reasonable and your second, where you simply assert in effect that "they hate us for our freedoms". And even if your second paragraph is true (which it isn't) you seem to be posing that these things, which you don't define, are simply part of American culture and therefore we are the victims of some sort of unreasonable culture clash. It could be that if there is a general Islamic problem with Western culture it is more along the lines of the same problems that you yourself have expressed with Western secular culture. (I suppose I would expect you to say at this point that at least you don't advocate suicide bombings as a remedy to this, but neither do the vast majority of "Islamic fundamentalists" either.)

[[You will note that I referred to the "American Islamic community". My expectations for the offshore Islamic community are not the same. Since our obsession with political correctness requires us to be concerned with the sensitivities of other cultures, I require and expect that American Muslims be concerned with the sensitivities of non-Muslim Americans (the majority of us) and thus express their outrage at 9/11 in terms that non-Muslim American citizens can reasonably interpret as an acceptable and sincere statement of their love and commitment to America. That is my stand on that issue, and I will not retreat from it in any way.]]I suppose, Mr Schwartz, that I would challenge you here to prove that American Muslims do not share the same outrage, as Americans, that the majority of Americans have. If you mean that American Muslims have not tended to support the war in Iraq, then, well, this is now apparently the majority opinion in this country (to look at the polls), so maybe American Muslims were right all along.As for what political correctness may or may not require, I have always considered political correctness to be a parlor game played by academics. What requires us to pay attention to what Muslims abroad are thinking, saying and believing isn't political correctness but common morality.

Sean - Like releasing all prisoners, giving everyone miranda rights on the battlefield and the release of classified evidence are red herrings. Even in civilian courts, there are provisions for dealing with classified information as evidence, and as noted in this Commonweal article by someone who, unlike me, is a lawyer, "no lawyer for the detainees has argued that anyone should have been read Miranda rights after being captured on the battlefield." ( http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/article.php3?id_article=1750&var_reche...)As far as the choice between military and civilian justice, so long as we are not at war, I think civil justice makes the most sense. Terrorism is a crime, and should be treated as such. Since we seem to be treating it as a military matter, though, Congress should declare war.You bring up Nuremberg. Wouldn't the proper authority, following the precedent of Nuremberg, be the ICC at the Hague? The Nuremberg trials were constituted under an international authority - the system at Guantanamo and our other detention facilities seems a step backward from Nuremberg. Why the Bush administration's aversion to using the internationally approved and recognized systems already in place?

Philip, I'm sure you know the answer to your question as to why Bush did not use the international courts. It is the same reason he invaded Iraq instead of Korea. Korea has nuclear weapons making that action problematic. It is the old story of those with the most power acting like God. That old saying of "potuit, decuit ergo fecit "(God could do it, it was fitting that he did it, and so he did it).Pure and simple. Power corrupts and absolute power....It will be quite different now as Congress will act as the checks and balances that is its role.

Mr. Unagidon:In his 1997 book, "Salt of the Earth," Pope Benedict said that the Quran is "a total religious law, which regulates the whole of political and social life and insists that the whole order of life be Islamic.", thus neatly summarizing why much of the Islamic world considers Osama Bib Laden a hero, and capturing the reason why, after the Pope's Regensburg statement the Islamic world proceeded to prove my point by violence, burning the Pope in effigy, and shooting a nun in the back.The theological substrate, that Islam regulates the whole of political and social life and insists that the whole order of life be Islamic, provides the foundation upon which Muslims feel compelled to say the things they say and do the things they do.

[[The theological substrate, that Islam regulates the whole of political and social life and insists that the whole order of life be Islamic, provides the foundation upon which Muslims feel compelled to say the things they say and do the things they do.]]True enough, and precisely in the same way that the Catholic Church made the same claims for Catholicism in the Middle Ages and before. And for us this is still the claim made today. The Catechism after all isn't just a book of helpful hints. And the Catechism doesn't claim that there is one Natural Law for Catholics and another one for everyone else.So what's your point?It strikes me, in regard to American Muslims, that you are demanding them nothing less than a loyalty test with the questions being defined by you. What gives you the authority to demand this?

PhillipI said nothing about Nuremburg. I was speaking of US Military Tribunals. Mostly these involved Japanese prisoners, and a few Nazis. My entire point is that there is this myth being promoted that the process put in place to deal with these detainees was without precedence and made of whole cloth. You implied as much yourself when you said, "Surely you can see why, given the existence of available, established systems, the administration's desire to create something from scratch strikes many as a cynical attempt to avoid established systems of due process?"First, the so-called "established systems" were not available or appropriate. You san now that things like Miranda Rights wouldn't apply, but that's part of the established system. The civilian system was not and is not capable of handling war crimes. As for classified information, you are right that there are established procedures, but what you fail to appreciate is that those processes are not designed to deal with the kind of circumstance we have here. Those procedures are focused solely on protecting information. The situation in these cases involve more than that. These are enemies of the country who would use classified information to attack it. The current system, and I have worked under it, is not designed to handle this.Second, the military tribunal system was not manufactured of whole cloth. Their use has a very long history, they are addressed in US law, including the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and, as I said, the regulations put forth by the Bush Administration were based on the ones used in WWII. In fact, the most important changes were designed to provide greater protections for the accused.Finally, and this is a critical point on which we disagree, we ARE at war. (Declarations of War only apply to nation states, making a declaration, as you ask for, impossible) This, I think, is one of the fundamental disconnects in most of these conversations. Those who believe not much has changed will likely see routine approaches as sufficient to handle these problems. In fact, I suspect if 9/11 had killed 300,000 people or that there were one or two more such attacks, almost everyone who is so critical of the harsh nature of the measures taken against the detainees and other issues would be silent.

Mr. unagidon:I wish.

Mr. Schwartz, I drove through Simi Valley in late 1988 and got the distinct impression that it was a rather affluent town. Home of the Ronald Reagan Library that honors the "trickle down" and "ketchup is a vegetable" president. Site of the infamous Rodney King trial at which three LA police officers were found not guilty (video evidence notwithstanding).A community that, as of CY 2000 (per Wikepedia), was over 89% white. I think you know where I'm going here, but that wouldn't be fair. Just like your contempt for Muslims.

Joe:Actually, I'm rather a slow study, so perhaps you might be so generous as to elucidate.