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What Else Is In Scott's Head?

The blog site for writer Scott C. Smith. Some observations on the world we live in and life in general. And maybe some politics.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Let Us Now Express Mock Outrage

Following the Friday night news dump of an investigation by the commander of the Gitmo detention center that confirmed cases of Quran abuse, the Bush administration was out to downplay the five confirmed incidents.

White House Spokesman Scott McClellan came out swinging: "It is unfortunate that some have chosen to take out of context a few isolated incidents by a few individuals without making clear the policies and practices of the overwhelming vast majority, the 99.9 percent, of our military personnel," he said. He also went on to say he was referring to "some media coverage and some commentary."

Well, no shit, Sherlock. Of course we're going to comment on this. We have an enemy that wants to kill us, and we still can't get it into guard's heads not to do things that could possibly flame American hatred in the Muslim world? Do we really need to give the jihadists ammunition to use against us?

And let's not forget the firestorm that erupted following a piece in Newsweek where a detainee alleged that a guard had flushed a Quran down the toilet. The Bush administration was highly pissed at Newsweek -- Secretary of State Condolezza Rice called the Newsweek piece "appalling" while McClellan blamed the magazine for deaths that erupted in protests across the Middle East, especially in Afghanistan: "The report has had serious consequences. People have lost their lives. The image of the United States abroad has been damaged. I just find it puzzling."

What was puzzling was that McClellan didn't appear to be aware of something said by Gen. Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, about the Newsweek story and the resulting deaths, from May 12:

Q: Do either one of you have anything about the demonstrations in Afghanistan, which were apparently sparked by reports that there was a lack of respect by some interrogators at Guantanamo for the Koran. Do either one of you have anything to say about that?

GEN. MYERS: It's the -- it's a judgment of our commander in Afghanistan, General Eikenberry, that in fact the violence that we saw in Jalalabad was not necessarily the result of the allegations about disrespect for the Koran -- and I'll get to that in just a minute -- but more tied up in the political process and the reconciliation process that President Karzai and his Cabinet is conducting in Afghanistan. So that's -- that was his judgment today in an after- action of that violence. He didn't -- he thought it was not at all tied to the article in the magazine.

Back to McClellan, who you'll recall was ready to tar and feather Newsweek for their reporting that a Quran had been flushed down a toilet. And while that specific incident did not happen, Newsweek was pretty close to the story, as we learned Friday night, June 3, that the Quran had in fact been mishandled a number of times at Guantanamo Bay.

Now, we know that the Bush administration employs folks who are good at deflection, that old technique used by magicians to get an audience to look at something else while they pull a rabbit out of a hat. Scott McClellan did just that in responding to the new, official report of Quran mishandling: "There were three times as many confirmed incidents of (Quran) abuse by detainees, a number which were far worse than the few isolated incidents of mishandling by a few individuals that violated military policies and practices," McClellan said.

Well, excuse my language, but what the fuck does that have to do with anything? The issue is that guards stepped on, wrote in and pissed on Qurans. Doesn't it stand to reason that the guards did those things in order to rile up the prisoners? If the detainees mishandled Qurans -- well, so what? Again, the issue is our behavior and our treatment of prisoners. And if rioting occurs and people die over this report, it'll be the Bush administration's fault. The image of the United States abroad has been damaged. Not that the Bush administration will admit to being at fault. They know where the buck will stop, and it's not going to be at Bush's desk.

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