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May 26, 2005

Comments

How many people are at Gittmo now? Does the number ever increase? I vote to let them go.

Let's not think about how this retraction was encouraged ....

(Of course, the entire Qur'an thing may be a false rumor gone wild in Gitmo, with possible kinship to al-Qaeda propaganda. But god knows we're perfectly capable of having done that, & worse.)

They could release the results of their investigation and settle this fairly quickly, either way.

Worth reading Jeanne at Body and Soul (as ever) on this topic.

If the detainee had answered wrong, he could be back in Guantanamo right now. We apparently can grab anyone, anywhere, anytime.

We're already past the 'believe nothing' stage and out the other side.

not you:

My understanding is that the investigation is still ongoing and only started up this year.
---

So the Koran debased by flushing is unsubstantiated, as opposed to numerous other forms of Koran abuse. How many times can this issue be parsed?

"Allegedly made the allegation?" Is DiRita really questioning the authenticity of a document which the ACLU received as part of a FOIA request or did he just lose count of how many layers of obfuscation were still operative? I almost feel sorry for the guy.

Herewith a brief summary of the state of play for those of you keeping score at home:

1) the Pentagon has allegedly "re-interviewed" somebody whose identity and location are known only to the Pentagon but who allegedly made allegations of Qur'an flushing in an allegedly official document which was allegedly released to the ACLU as part of an alleged FOIA response.

2) This person is alleged to be a former inmate at Gitmo (and is presumably subject to re-apprehension).

3) The Pentagon is providing a synopsis -- actually two distinct synopses -- of that interview.

4) The first synopsis, provided by DiRita, goes "he has said it didn't happen."

5) The second synopsis, provided by Whitman, goes "he was not knowledgeable of anything."

So we go from a false story to an allegation and now back to a false story. "Credible charges", folks. Not taking away, of course, the ICRC reporting of mishandled Korans, but it remains that over 17 died needlessly because of a sloppily reported story that turned out to be untrue.

I'm still baffled by this charge, Bird. We have people who chose a random charge as their rallying point and used it as an excuse. It's not like there aren't enough real examples of torture n' stuff so you'd have to be an idiot to think there wasn't more than enough dry tinder waiting for nothing more than a random spark. Is it really so hard for you to comprehend this? Or are you just acting like these jokers, simply taking a random charge as your rallying point to further push your totalitarian agenda?

Must get rather boring, I would presume.

Charles, supposing that we take as a presumption that the detainee who said he'd seen a guard put a Koran in the toilet was lying, and on being questioned again, told the truth and said he'd never seen it. (I do not find this hypothesis the most probable one, but I grant you that it's a possible hypothesis.)

That leaves many other allegations of Koran desecration unaccounted for. Are you asserting that all the detainees who said they'd witnessed US soldiers deliberately desecrate the Koran were lying?

Or is it simply this particular incident of Koran desecration you have decided you find incredible? Then what is your opinion of all the other accounts, which have been coming into the public domain, beginning over 18 months ago?

over 17 died needlessly because of a sloppily reported story that turned out to be untrue

Well, directly the 17 died because Afghan police shot at them. Indirectly, they died because they were taking part in an anti-American demonstration that may have been triggered by the Newsweek story about this particular incident, but the Newsweek story was only the latest of many, many accounts of Koran desecration in Guantanamo Bay. You may never have read these accounts, or paid any attention to them if you did, but you would be wrong to suppose that your ignorance/inattention is a worldwide phenomenon.

cause and effect

Charles, just go read Sarah Chayes' op-ed in the NY Times, posted so helpfully by Gary eariler.

I've lost patience with people like Charles. I won't accept right-wing lies as honest mistakes or positions anymore.

Charles, stop lying.

I'm with Barry

It should be obvious that I don't have a knee-jerk tendency to agree with Charles.

But, speaking, obviously, only for myself, I consider direct accusations of intentional dishonesty, unless provably true, to be a form of nothing other than personal attack. Whether any blog-owners share my opinion, and consider it worth a warning of potential banning, I have no idea; naturally, their view is what actually matters.

It's always possible this is some newfangled form of "respectful" conversation I've not yet cottoned to, I suppose.

but it remains that over 17 died needlessly because of a sloppily reported story that turned out to be untrue

the F it does.

Gary,

Charles Bird's statement: 17 died needlessly because of a sloppily reported story that turned out to be untrue has been debunked so many times that to continue to repeat it must surely constitute being party to a lie.

If you wish to ban me for that view, so be it.

One of your more poorly worded comments, perhaps, Charles.

"If you wish to ban me for that view, so be it."

Ain't up to me. Moreover, I only indicated I'd favor a warning; whether you didn't actually read what I wrote -- "and consider it worth a warning" -- was that unclear? -- or what, I have no idea.

However, being someone who reads closely, and at least makes imperfect efforts to at least sporadically form sentences carefully, I'd say that accusing someone of being "party to a lie," and accusing them of outright lying, are two fairly different things. Whether you regard them as identical, or are pulling back, or were simply being careless (this is not meant to be a pejorative suggestion; I'm careless in one aspect or another of pretty much every comment I post), in switching from one to the other, I also have no idea.

OK, I have been off doing other things, having a life, watering the orchids, and so forth, but: accusations of lying violate the rule against incivility. This is an Official Warning.

Also: speaking as someone who often screws things up, I live in fear of a world in which my every mistake is taken to be intentional deception, and charity and generosity in interpretation are unknown. If you think there's something wrong with someone's argument, say so, and provide the evidence. If you think that the person who made the claim must have seen the earlier rebuttal(s) that you remember, cite those rebuttals. If you are absolutely, positively sure that the person who made the claim is lying, pray for protection against hubris, hope that you're wrong, and go water your orchids (or orchid-equivalents). If you're right, and the other person is lying, you will probably not be the only person to figure it out. If you're wrong, you will not have engaged in ungrounded attacks that serve no good purpose.

I see.

Well then.

Karzai denies article prompted riots in Afghanistan

"It is the judgment of our commander in Afghanistan, General Eichenberry, that in fact the violence that we saw in Jalalabad was not necessarily the result of the allegations about disrespect for the Koran, but more tied up in the political process and the reconciliation process that President Karzai and his cabinet are conducting in Afghanistan. He thought it was not at all tied to the article in the magazine," [Myers] explained.

Charles Bird's Obsidian Wings/Redstate story "Looking Beyond Flushgate" where these issues were first raised.

Gary: If you read Barry's comment, which I seconded, it was more about "the big lie", and participation in that.

IE. Party to a lie.

That's how I read it anyway. Sorry, I'm not going to apologise, so I guess I'm gone.

But if I may say, Charles seems to be held to a different standard.

Another view on Gitmo heard from.

There is a heartbreaking story in Harper's about a released Gitmo prisoner. He saw a Koran being desecrated and he was tortured for months. His release was in August of 2004, so that brings the Koran-desecration up to fairly recent times. anyway he said the same thing that your reference said, although much more simply. He said that Americans needed to understand that freedom wasn't just for us. You are right. Gitmo, the abuse, the deaths, the torture, the desecrations, whether they involve toilets or not, has detroyed our credibility and left us with no high ground upon which to stand. Lest any one dismiss this man's testimony as the lies of a terrorist, he was released with offical papers stating tht he was not found to be a threat to the US.

17 died needlessly because of a sloppily reported story that turned out to be untrue

True or not, some people wish it were true. In Rutherford, NC, the Rev. Creighton Lovelace is doing Tacitus's work of "disrepecting" the Koran.

2shoes, I think that the only people Charles Bird has declared to be liars are all the Guantanamo Bay detainees who have said, publicly and to the Red Cross, that they have witnessed US soldiers desecrating the Koran. It is generally understood that the rules of courtesy on Obsidian Wings apply only to those who are posters/regular commenters on the blog, and explicitly not to public figures. You can call George W. Bush a liar, but not Charles Bird.

It's a Parliamentary standard of politeness. It is allowed in the British Parliament to say that what "the right honourable Gentleman" is saying is a lie: it is not allowed to call him a liar.

Jes is right. And 2shoes: you can say that Charles is repeating something that you take to be false. That does not imply that he is (or is not) doing so knowingly. 'Party to a lie' is ambiguous between 'he's repeating something that is, whether he knows it or not, a lie' (i.e., was a lie when spoken by the people he's repeating, but not necessarily by him), and 'he's knowingly spreading falsehood'. Avoid the latter. And ask yourself whether you really know it's true.

In general, the posters on this site are given latitude. (I could ban a commenter, subject to the usual appeals; I could not ban Charles or Edward or von.) In this case, since Charles has not called anyone on this site a liar, however, that doesn't enter into it.

Charles, the American military said that the 17 dead did not happen because of the report. The Afghan government said that the 17 did not die because of the report. Why are you being so slow to catch on?

Even Scott McClellan, who is paid to spin madly and appears not to care what happens to people in Afghanistan, has basically refuted his own accusation. Remember, the part that pissed off the Administration was the claim that there was actually a DOD investigation, not the claim that there has been abuse of the Koran. The abuse of the Koran claims have been around for years.

If the United States did not kidnap people and treat them to random violence, we would not have this problem. What we are doing in Gitmo is illegal under both international law and US law and our behavior is the cause of the problem. If we had an administration that actually respected the role of government in society, we might have fewer problems with the rest of the world.

"You can call George W. Bush a liar..."

Actually, you can't any longer in public if George W. Bush the liar is anywhere in the vicinity. Nor can you wear a t-shirt to one of the smirking liar's venues calling him a liar without being cuffed and carted off.

So, maybe one outlet for anger about Bush's lies gets shut off, without much complaint from anyone, and then another outlet, like the blogosphere, experiences a rash of posting rules violations calling the wrong guy a liar, when it should have been Bush being called the liar.

Anger is like water; it's going to go somewhere. Someday it will turn into fire.

But John, I live in the UK. Not only can I call George W. Bush a liar with impunity, I can call Tony Blair a liar to his face with impunity.

Er, we seem to have stolen the First Amendment from you. Do you want it back? It's kind of shiny, yet practical!

Well, I was going to say something about these Queensbury rules being all well and good, but they won't stop the stiletto from going in you back.

Instead, I would like to leave Charles a question: Are you now, or have you ever been, paid to blog and comment on blogs?

Jes: We'll split it with you. There once was enough to go around.

And, by the way, I've always thought the formal politenesses such as "what the right honorable gentleman is saying is a lie", are not only a wonderful way to handle things, but are also the wellspring of some of the great British humor, like the Pythons, that reaches the U.S.

Humor is like water, too. Really, if one must be so polite all day, then one must at some point remove one's trousers and send up the entire concept of lying and not exactly calling it lying in a funny skit.

And, thank you for the Beatles, too :)

"he has said it didn't happen"

What exactly is the "it" that didn't happen?

I was struck in this morning's report on the fact that the emphasis fell on *flushing*: the Pentagon is conceding that there *was* abuse of Korans (though they won't specify the type), but they deny that there was any *flushing*.

Well, that means that if the detainee said something like "Of course it wasn't *flushed*--we only had buckets, and the interrogator threw it into the bucket", then DiRita can go out and say, about the "flushing" allegation, "he has said it didn't happen."

Folks--we have been through this before with this gang. They have taken the worst of the Clintonesque legalistic parsing habits, and made them far, far worse.

They take a story that is 99% true, find the 1% that's false, and say "so the story is false". They did it with Bush's service record. They have done it with his drug use. They are doing it with the Koran abuse.

When the Pentagon comes out and says that there was no abuse of Korans involving any toilets, any buckets used as toilets, or any waste-handling facilities in G'mo, then I will at least take that as a direct denial of the original allegations. But so far, they are not even denying it. They are just saying things to make it look as though they are denying it, without denying it.

So if you're a regular poster to this blog, you're allowed to lie all you want, but if you're a commenter, you're not allowed to point out that the poster is lying, and to call him what he is, a liar. I think I understand it now.

Look, I don't in the least dispute that there's been torture, and killing of over one hundred prisoners. This is horrible. I've been posting about this sort of thing for at least somewhat more than a year, and many times. I haven't been running around defending the Administration on the issue, but au contraire, which is obvious to anyone who reads my blog. So when I pick on the following point, I do so only to pick on the following point in isolation, not to attack the larger point being made, okay?

"Lest any one dismiss this man's testimony as the lies of a terrorist, he was released with offical papers stating tht he was not found to be a threat to the US."

However, this is completely illogical. Not being proven or found to be a threat, doesn't in the least certify someone as either truthful or non-hostile to the U.S. Even if one postulated that he loved the U.S. with all his heart before being taken to Gitmo, surely it's impossible to maintain that once there, he'd been given no reason to be hostile to the U.S. and couldn't possibly repeat a damaging story?

Re-emphasize: I am not attacking the possible or probable truthfulness of his or anyone else's story. I am simply pointing out that moving from the fact that he, or any given individual, was released, doesn't, in fact, in the least indicate, let alone prove, that he or they is/are speaking truthfully about any given thing. That's all. And again, repeat: that's all. Bottom line: the facts are likely so, but offering this as proof, rather than simply as another datapoint to point to, is ridiculous. It's an indicator. It's not proof, any more than the word of a Pentagon spokesperson is. And this observation isn't "nitpicking" or "distracting" from a point, it's responding to a previously stated one.

Peppermint Schnapps: the rules are here. You can say that what someone is saying is false. You can say it's obviously false. But you can't attack that person personally. That holds whether that person is a poster or a commenter.

"I think I understand it now."

Yes, it's very hard, indeed. Come see the repression inherent in the system! Censorship! Why, it's almost as if one can't do a blog of one's own, or find blogs to call posters "liars" on to one's heart's content!

Or are you just acting like these jokers, simply taking a random charge as your rallying point to further push your totalitarian agenda?

Random charge, Hal? What is a "random charge"? Newsweek made a specific charge, that US personnel flushed a Koran. You're just not making sense, especially with that "totalitarian agenda" hooey. What evidence do you have of my alleged totalitarian agenda? I'd really like to know.

Charles, stop lying.

What lie, Barry? Be specific. The New York Times, which I thought was the gold standard here, reported that there was no evidence of a Koran-into-toilet incident, and the WA Post confirmed that there were five credible charges of Koran mishandling, none of which involved commodes. If I am lying, then the New York Times and Washington Post must be lying as well. Are you calling them liars?

Peppermint Schnapps: So if you're a regular poster to this blog, you're allowed to lie all you want, but if you're a commenter, you're not allowed to point out that the poster is lying, and to call him what he is, a liar. I think I understand it now.

Actually, commenters are also allowed to lie all they want, and not be called liars.

I understand your frustration when you see someone repeatedly saying the thing which is not and not being allowed to call that person a liar, because I share it. I've been called on this rule myself at least twice, possibly more often. But the fact I have been frustrated enough to break or to bend the rule at times does not prevent me from seeing that it is a good rule.

You are allowed to point out that the things Charles Bird is saying are demonstrably untrue. But courtesy requires that you at least assume that he believes what he's repeating.

The dishonesty of the Bush administration is an oft-discussed topic around ObWi. Like Katherine, I find the administration's dishonesty appalling.

In my mind, Donald Rumsfeld explained the matter most succintly: "We are dealing with people that are perfectly willing to lie to the world to attempt to further their case and to the extent people lie, ultimately they are caught lying and they lose their credibility." Of course, he was referring to al-Jazeera.

Although I try to back it up with facts and reasoning, I have to admit that much of what I write is my opinion. I think this applies to others here as well. Charles has his opinion, I have mine, and if either of us is to convince the other it will have to be by a convincing argument, certainly not by name-calling. I don't anticipate this will happen, but it might.

In closing, I give you the words of Lucy van Pelt: "everyone is entitled to their own stupid opinion."

Besides, take heart! You can still say someone is "dishonest" and "incompetent" as a writer! (And then assert they should never respond again to your having said it!)

Lying? The May 9th Washington Post:

The protests erupted Wednesday in the eastern city of Jalalabad and have now spread to the capital, Kabul, and four other areas. Demonstrations also took place in other Muslim countries Friday, although no serious violence was reported. Protesters gathered in several cities in Pakistan, as well as in Indonesia and the Palestinian territories.

The protests were sparked by a May 9 report in Newsweek magazine that interrogators at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had placed copies of the Koran in bathrooms and flushed one text down a toilet.

Question: Did the WA Post retract? Are N.C. Aizenman and Robin Wright liars?

Charles: Newsweek made a specific charge, that US personnel flushed a Koran.

Again, Charles, why the focus on this specific incident of a US soldier desecrating a Koran? If your concern is genuinely for the Afghans who took part in an anti-US demonstration because of the stories of Koran desecration in Guantanamo Bay, then it is pointless to keep jabbing your finger at one specific incident and saying "look, look, they haven't actually been able to prove this happened precisely as the prisoner describes it!"

You need to convince the Muslims out there who are, thanks to many other horrific incidents of US soldiers bullying, abusing, and torturing helpless prisoners, willing to believe that among the means used to degrade and humiliate Muslim prisoners, desecrating the Koran was one. It is not a convincing defense to say "You can't prove it happened in that instance exactly the way the prisoner says it happened!"

Surely you see that? Unless your objective is not to find some means of convincing Muslims round the world that the US has no malign intentions towards Islam, but to convince yourself that the Bush administration really are the good guys, whatever anyone else (like the Red Cross, or the innocent victims of the US who have been released from Guantanamo Bay) may be saying about them.

Gary: You can still say someone is "dishonest" and "incompetent" as a writer! (And then assert they should never respond again to your having said it!)

Ah, that instance was the most recent occasion when I was called on this rule. Frustrating and annoying though your behavior was, the posting rules really required me just to ignore it, rather than to call you on it.

CB,

By that logic, are you saying Hamid Karzai is a liar (see 2shoes cite above) because he said the riots were not caused by the Newsweek article? If not, can we all agree to stop this nonsense?

Instead, I would like to leave Charles a question: Are you now, or have you ever been, paid to blog and comment on blogs?

No, 2shoes. But then, if you think I'm a liar, you're not going to believe my answer anyway.

By that logic, are you saying Hamid Karzai is a liar

No, Dan, I'm saying that I don't agree with Karzai's assessment. I not the one calling folks liars here.

"Frustrating and annoying though your behavior was, the posting rules really required me just to ignore it, rather than to call you on it."

You ignored it by stating that I'm dishonest and an incompetent writer? Or just by saying I'm "dishonest" in what I write, but not saying "you're a liar"? Just checking.

Charles: I not the one calling folks liars here.

No, you are asserting that all Guantanamo Bay detainees who report that they witnessed US soldiers desecrating the Koran are lying.

"The New York Times, which I thought was the gold standard here ..."

Charles, and the others accusing Charles of lying: see, that's not a lie. Just an impressionistic, award-winning, mind reading mistake.

I'm sure someone at the New York Times lies on occasion. But how would I know, because I read it twice a year?

I watch FOX, I read NRO, and I listen to Scott McClellan, so I have absolutely no experience with lying.

Again, Charles, why the focus on this specific incident of a US soldier desecrating a Koran?

Because Koran flushing is the topic of Edward's post. Look, I'm fully in Sebastian's camp regarding torture and have written so. I'm in 100% agreement with Katherine and Hilzoy on extraordinary rendition and have written so. I think those who killed the two in Afghanistan and those who horribly mistreated prisoners and detainees at Abu Ghraib should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and I've been consistent on that as well. What I'm fully against are those who treat allegations as facts. I believe it is important to point that out because it's irresponsible of those who do so. I've made that mistake as well a time or few, and I don't think anyone is immune from it. The point is that I do not accept at face value and without corroboration the words of Gitmo detainees, not when many or most of these men are likely terrorists and enemies of the United States. When the ICRC reports on these incidents, then it's proper to sit up and take notice. What we know from them is that Koran-mishandling occurred but they did not go into specifics. When the FBI or similar investigative authorities go in and investigate and track down the leads and then put out a report, then you rely on the credible charges made. I've said this before, but you're playing right into Rush Limbaugh's hands when he says that what's more important to liberals is the seriousness of the allegations, not the nature of the evidence. The nature of the evidence regarding Korans at Gitmo is that there were five credible charges of mishandling, none involving toilets. Making accusations over and above the credible charges and treating them as God's truth is highly irresponsible and it hurts our relations with foreign nations and its peoples.

Charles: What I'm fully against are those who treat allegations as facts

Charles, wouldn't you call the claim that the Newsweek item sparked the riots an allegation? Do we have any testimony from the rioters? Don't we have contrary testimony from a variety of sources (President Karzai, Gen. Eikenberry, Gen. Myers, and now Sarah Chayes' eyewitness report)?

Making accusations over and above the credible charges and treating them as God's truth is highly irresponsible and it hurts our relations with foreign nations and its peoples.

So that would count just as well for Scott McClellan, yes?

No, you are asserting that all Guantanamo Bay detainees who report that they witnessed US soldiers desecrating the Koran are lying.

No I'm not, Jes. Please read more carefully. The ones who made accusations, and which were confirmed by investigative authorities, were not lying. The ones who heard of mishandling from other detainees were probably not lying. I'm sure they did hear things from fellow detainees and the information was passed along accurately. The ones who claimed to witness Koran mishandling, but which could not be substantiated, mostly likely were lying. Nowhere did I say or infer that all detainees were lying.

Charles, wouldn't you call the claim that the Newsweek item sparked the riots an allegation?

Yes, what happened here? This is unambiguous: but it remains that over 17 died needlessly because of a sloppily reported story that turned out to be untrue.

Good Bog, I'm glad I didn't check this thread last night. Hilzoy, thanks for an evenhanded job of soothing the savage mob-beast.

And, for the record, I've never been paid to blog. If anyone had been paying me, they'd certainly be entitled to their money back, plus penalties.

Lastly, to sort of address the topic (and not, instead, ask Gary if he remembers the paradimethylaminobenzaldehyde song), I think that given that this story has taken a couple of U-turns in the last couple of weeks, waiting and seeing is advisable. Probably my single biggest issue with Charles is that I think he raises his hands from the handlebars in victory prematurely, forgetting that the finish line isn't a line, exactly, and that his feet are still taped to the pedals*.

*One of my favorite movies of all time. Favorite line: "Refund? REFUND?"

Before Gary gets to it, Charles: you said infer when I think the meaning was imply.

This? Just don't ever ask me to quote a word of it. I have enough trouble remembering how to spell or pronounce Thiotimoline.

I actually don't remember "Breaking Away" terribly well, either, other than the general premise and a bit or two, even though there was a time when it was on tv pretty much all the time.

"Before Gary gets to it, Charles: you said infer when I think the meaning was imply."

He could have not inferred it before he didn't imply it.

:-)

Actually, Gary, I didn't say the Harper's story proved anything. I said that his testimony couldn't be dismissed as the lies of a terrorist since our government had offically stated that he wasn't. There is a difference between saying testimony can't be dismissed out of hand saying that the testimony must be accepted as truth. In a court of law his word could be evidence, and the government's statement could be entered in support of the veracity of his evidence. However, I understand that more evidence would be needed for a conviction.

Actually, I don't think I'd ever seen the whole song written out, but it doesn't surprise me that you know it. My reference to the p-d-a-b song was from a book that Azimov wrote, and I read everything of his that I could get my mitts on, as a kid.

Asimov. Asimov. Asimov.

It's one of my bugagoos, along with "Isaac" and "Tolkien" and "Gandhi," all of which it's apparently law on the internets to misspell. Amd "Le Guin," for that matter, and even sometimes "Heinlein." (Izaac, Issac, Tolkein, Ghandi, Leguin, LeGuin, and sometimes Hienlien or Heinlien, are all more popular people, apparently, whoever they are.)

Gary, even spell checkers don't help me (see "succintly," above).

You know the story of Asimov and "azimuth," don't you? Also there's the Flying Sorcerers by David Gerrold and Larry Niven ("as a color, shade of purple-grey").

A Cockney named I. Asimov,
As his trousers he started to doff,
Said "Me lydy-friends yawn
When I 'as 'em on,
But whistle when I 'as 'em off."

W. R. Espy

Asimov. Asimov. Asimov.

I die. My body is burned, and the villagers breathe the poisonous fumes. All die. Oh, the embarrassment.

I could say I did that just to tweak you, but I'm ashamed to say it was just me not paying attention.

Jesurgislac: You are allowed to point out that the things Charles Bird is saying are demonstrably untrue. But courtesy requires that you at least assume that he believes what he's repeating.

Very well. I would like to point out that a lot of what Charles Bird says is demonstrably untrue, although I assume that he believes it that is not.

Furthermore, I believe that if we all clap our hands hard enough, Tinkerbell's life will be spared.

I missed this the first time through, but...

Charles: The point is that I do not accept at face value and without corroboration the words of Gitmo detainees, not when many or most of these men are likely terrorists and enemies of the United States.

On what basis do you make this claim?

Actually, C. Bird should really be classified as a bullshitter, rather than as a liar. In the meaning that Harry Frankfurt uses the term in his excellent book, On Bullshit. From the review:

"Bullshitting, as he [Frankfurt] notes, is not exactly lying, and bullshit remains bullshit whether it's true or false. The difference lies in the bullshitter's complete disregard for whether what he's saying corresponds to facts in the physical world: he "does not reject the authority of the truth, as the liar does, and oppose himself to it. He pays no attention to it at all. By virtue of this, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are."

On what basis do you make this claim?

On what basis do you believe that most of the detainees are not al Qaeda?

On what basis do you believe that most of the detainees are not al Qaeda?

Hey! I asked you first! Only I asked you a different (and, well, better) question; if you're going to throw this back in my court, a) stop with the Karnaking (how do you know what I believe again?) and b) confusing "terrorism" and "Al Qaeda" is a mistake you're supposed to make on the left, not the right.

But fine, I'll play along: how many terrorism convictions have we had? How many publicly confirmed -- and I do mean publicly confirmed, not publicly declared and then shame-facedly retracted -- Al Qaeda agents have we sent to Guantanamo? What independent confirmation exists that the prisoners in Guantanamo are terrorists?

I have to run so these questions will have to remain rhetorical for the time being but, unless there have been massively changes in the past few months, none of the answers to the above questions are particularly conducive to your claim. Hence I ask again: on what basis do you make the claim?

You know, there are enough verified, stomach-turning atrocities coming out of Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, and points between that getting worked up over what might have been done to a Koran strikes me as... well, nit-picky.

I read a few articles and posts about this, and along the way found out that there are ways one may "abuse" a Koran that aren't self-evident as abuse. Apparently, just setting one on the bare floor is considered desecration. And it seems the soldiers at Gitmo, when they passed Korans through the bars to prisoners, did exactly that: set the book on the floor to push it through.

Now, if you happen to be a former prisoner, and you're pretty pissed off about the whole thing in the first place (seeing as how you were held incommunicado for three+ years and you weren't a terrorist or anything), and you're an excitably devout Muslim, you could conceivably brood on this, think to yourself, "They dragged the Koran along the floor! It is no better than if they put the Koran into a toilet!" And then, when you finally talk to someone about it, you skip the middle part - to give your indignation full flower, or to make a real impression, or because at that point you believe it yourself - and say "They put the Koran into a toilet!"

It's quite possible that's what happened. Or something along those lines.

I also read that some deeply devout Muslims believe the Koran, any printed Koran, is sacred; is itself the word of God, rather than just an account thereof. I didn't know that, either. It does strike me as odd, though: I thought idolatry was a sin in Islam as it is in Judaism and Christianity, and this sounds very like idolatry to me.

CaseyL: It's quite possible that's what happened. Or something along those lines.

Jeanne at Body and Soul quotes a civilian DoD employee:

Again recounting that conversation, the civilian employee explained that they were discussing ideas about "how to get 'these detainees to talk.'" Evidently certain prisoners were believed to know "the source of the incoming mortars" fired by insurgents at Abu Ghraib, but wouldn't reveal anything.

"During the conversation I told [name redacted] about the Interrogation Rules of Engagement to ensure he knew of their existence ... I told him of a story of an interrogator using a Pride and Ego Down approach. The interrogator took a copy of a Koran and threw it on the floor and stepped on the Koran, which resulted in a detainee riot ... I never personally witnessed the above incidents but heard about them from other interrogation facility personnel."

The soldiers who placed copies of the Koran on the floor when they were being issued to the prisoners did not know that they were desecrating the Koran: the interrogators who used this did.

CaseyL: You know, there are enough verified, stomach-turning atrocities coming out of Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, and points between that getting worked up over what might have been done to a Koran strikes me as... well, nit-picky.

I don't think even the DoD any more is denying that there were incidents of deliberate Koran desecration at Guantanamo Bay. The group left denying it ever happened at all is the White House and bloggers like Charles Bird who keep up with the WH talking points.

I'm still hoping that Charles Bird will come back and answer Anarch's question. (But I doubt it.)

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