Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Thursday, May 26, 2005
The age of "inadvertent mishandling"
Update: The Pentagon's man in Guantanamo Bay has briefed the press on the latest Quoran flushing allegations.

Brig. Gen. Jay Hood, commander of the joint task force at Camp X-Ray read a prepared statement, and then refused to answer any specific questions about alleged incidents of Quran abuse "until the (Pentagon) report is completed." He did make the points the administration clearly wants made: namely, there was no abuse of the Quran, except when detainees did it themselves.

The Pentagon had already claimed yesterday that the detainee who made the original allegations has retracted his story (I wonder if he had women's underwear on his head or was anywhere near a cattle prod at the time...). And Hood again asserts that while the Pentagon has found "13 alleged incidents of inadvertent Quran mishandling," including 10 by guards and 3 by interrogators, as well as 15 incidents of detainees mucking about with the Muslim holy book themselves, there absolutely, positively was no Quran flushing by U.S. forces. Hood went into tortured explanations about the various gradations of "inadvertent mishandling," "accidental touching" and outright desecration. It's all too much for the normal brain to process...

To be honest, my gut reaction is to give the military the benefit of the doubt. By far, the vast majority of men and women in the armed services are good and decent people who are doing their jobs heroically. But it's hard to argue that the case hasn't been made, both circumstantially and following documented incidents of abuse at Abu Ghraib in particular, that the civilian and top military leadership at the Pentagon and Joint Chiefs level has set the tone for widespread abuse of detainees across all of our theaters of operation in the "war on terror," from Gitmo to Afghanistan to Iraq. And I mean the civilian leadership right up to the president of the United States. This story isn't about a few rogue soldiers behaving badly (or even about whether a Quran can really be made to swirl counterclockwise down the bowl of a prison camp latrine). It's about Bush administration policy, and the extent to which it is damaging America's reputation abroad, and wrecking our military.

Best short answer of the day: asked if he wanted to apologize to the Arab world, Hood responded "for what?"
posted by JReid @ 5:17 PM  
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"I am for enhanced interrogation. I don't believe waterboarding is torture... I'll do it. I'll do it for charity." -- Sean Hannity
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