We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Did Congress pass a law or something?

According to the New York Times:

An American military inquiry has uncovered five instances in which guards or interrogators at the Guantánamo Bay detention facility in Cuba mishandled the Koran, but found “no credible evidence” to substantiate claims that it was ever flushed down a toilet, the chief of the investigation said on Thursday.

All but one of the five incidents appear to have taken place before January 2003. In three cases, the mishandling of the Koran appears to have been deliberate, and in two it was accidental or unintentional, the commander said, adding that four cases involved guards, and one an interrogator. Two service members have been punished for their conduct, one recently.

I am not sure if the service members that were punished had other things to answer for- the investigation is by no means complete, apparently.

However, I am curious if that was what they were punished for. Does the Koran have some special legal protection in the United States now?

29 comments to Did Congress pass a law or something?

  • I believe there’s a quaint tradition under which soldiers are supposed to ‘obey orders’. Should some soldiers be ordered to show respect for their captives’ religion, then breaking that order is obviously a punishable offence.

  • No. But if knuckleheaded resolutions like this take off and some fool decides to try to make it a law, it well could be.

  • John East

    The Koran, like the bible and any other book, are just pieces of bound paper with words on them.

    There is no shortage at the moment of apologists and appeasers calling for the enforcement of religious tolerance by the gagging of free speech and criticism. Isn’t it obvious that the beliefs of most, if not all religions express immutable and mutually contradictory dogmas making tolerance between them almost impossible.

    The US military guards may have been guilty of threatening behaviour, bullying, failure to observe the Geneva convention or whatever, so let’s charge them along these lines, but for goodness sake lets not punish them for destroying pieces of paper.

  • Verity

    John East – You know that they “destroyed pieces of paper”, do you? Since when would you take the word of a beheader who is incarcerated because the US government has grounds to believe he is a religious maniac murderer, over the word of a US serviceman?

    It’s just Muslim terrorists trying it on with their lies again. Same old, same old. Taquiyya and kitman. Taquiyya and kitman. Blah blah blah.

  • Stehpinkeln

    John B., that is called ‘the good NAZI defense’. Soldiers are supposed to not obey illegal orders. The UCMJ hasn’t quite caught up with the real world yet.
    John East, the Geneva Conventions only apply to Wars between Nation/States. Non- national wars are explictly excluded. There is a list of criteria that a combatant must meet to gain the protections of the geneva conventions. ALL of them must be met, not just one or two. Iraqi army POW’s were handled in accotdance with the GC. Al Qaeda members are NOT covered by any treaty that the USA is a party to. We can do anything we want to with them. My suggestion was amputating their right hand and left foot and sending them back home to do some recruiting. The whole Git-mo thing is a bit of empire building by some 2 star deep in the bowels of the pentagon. On the balance the damage done by the retention of the AQ members far outweighs any information they have provided. Ipso de facto, if the information was so important, why is Osama still loose? Why is Saudi Arbia still financing AQ? It is past time to shut down Git-mo. Either hang them, or mutliate them to the point where they are no longer a danger and send them home.
    I favor the amputations since you cannot deter a suicide bomber with a threat of death. So instead of a quick trip to paradise and a bus load of virgins to try out, let them spend the rest of their life looking at stumps and thinking about choices.

  • Verity

    Stehpinkeln – What you write makes sense. Amputation would be good because it is in line with their holy book and their thinking. They chop their hands and feet off at a rate of knots in Saudi Arabia, so they are geared for it in their minds and it would not be mental cruelty.

    On the other hand (if they still had one left, ha ha ha ha ha!), they would all be back home wearing their amputations as badges of honour, plus their presence in whatever hellhole they had been sent back to would be a constant reminder that the US had committed this outrage against simple soldiers in the service of their diety. I think they should just be “disappeared”. They’re putting on too much weight, anyway.

  • What is really bizarre is that the infractions for which the soldiers are being punished are for things like removing the Koran from its bag or sitting it on top of TV. The standards of respect are so high that even minor unconscious actions can be punishable.

    I don’t think that any prisoners at anytime have had greater care taken with their religious sensibilities. The problem here isn’t a lack of respect but rather a standard set so high that it is impossible to meet.

  • Euan Gray

    the Geneva Conventions only apply to Wars between Nation/States. Non- national wars are explictly excluded

    That’s not entirely true. There are Geneva protocols which relate to civil war. I understand America has refused to sign them, and also that Britain only signed them after the likelihood of colonial police actions diminished almost to nil. That apart, one does not enhance one’s reputation as a defender of liberty, justice and the rule of law by failing to observe the laws of war when it is expedient and on a legal technicality.

    ALL of them must be met, not just one or two. Iraqi army POW’s were handled in accotdance with the GC

    Again, that’s not entirely true. It is a breach of the Geneva convention to publish or to allow to be published pictures which could identify a PoW. This happened, more than once, ergo the convention was breached.

    Al Qaeda members are NOT covered by any treaty that the USA is a party to. We can do anything we want to with them

    Dearie me. You can’t. For one thing, you can’t treat them they way they are being treated and then – when it suits you – say thay are prisoners of war. This is called hypocrisy. Further, one of the supposed grounds for the various actions was preservation of civilised government, rule of law, etc. This is, however, incompatible with treating prisoners like cattle and chucking them in concentration camps under military jurisdiction. This is also called hypocrisy.


  • Kristopher

    I suppose a National Endowment for the Arts grant to commission a “Piss Koran” is completely out of the question?

  • Verity

    Plus, Shannon Love, the offences with which these prisoners are associated are so hideous, so unthinkable to the civilised mind that their attempts to elevate some “disrespect” to their holy book to the same level is grotesque. As is the US military in going along with the gag and kowtowing to them.

    Their koran should be treated exactly the same way as the holy books of Western civilisation. Certainly no less, but absolutely no special consideration. This is bullshit.

  • Verity

    Euan G – where did you see a post from Dearieme? I don’t see one here. That is weird.

    Re your post, the prisoners in Gitmo are putting on weight and enjoying themselves. Some of those who have already been released had such a neat time they have applied for immigration status.

  • Jim

    The solution to this predicament is quite simple, remove all copies of the Koran form Gitmo (maybe from all the places where there may be ignorant infidels) and the chance of having an accidental incident with one is eliminated.
    End of problem.

  • Stehpinkeln – There are a great deal of rights that soldiers give up upon entry into the US armed forces. One of the things that is restricted is their free speech rights. By no means is a command to respect a particular religious practice an illegal order. It would also not be an illegal order to disrespect a particular religious practice. If the british hadn’t gotten rid of them all and thuggee was still a threat, no doubt we would be preventing thugs from strangling people, infringing their religious expression.

    The problem of muslim propensity to violence in response to insults that christians would bear without violence is of long standing. The state must deal with that differential in some form and orders to do so must be obeyed by its agents.

  • Sandy P

    Seems some detainees have been hiding things between the pages of their vaunted book.

  • Verity

    What things?

  • Findlay Dunachie

    Isn’t it illegal for anyone to have a Bible in Saudi Arabia?

  • Verity

    Yes. If you go in with a Bible, they confiscate it and shred it. No too “respectful” .

  • Anthony Crawley

    I agree that the Koran should not get any respect over an above other holy texts, but the idea that because they are not technically prisoners of war you can “do anything to them” is abhorrent. That kind of disrespect for human life is the mentality that leads to acts of terrorism and war in the first place, and human misery won’t end until we stop thinking that way.

    There is nothing to stop any country from taking anyone from any other country, for any reason, and “doing anything to them” if that was how international law worked. The Geneva convention outlines how to treat prisoners who have committed no crime (or have not yet been proven to) but need to be held in the interest of security. It wouldn’t do to release the entire enemy army after you capture it. If they do not fall under that category, then they should fall under the standard criminal code. The whole basis of democracy is the rule of law. You can’t make “special cases” whenever it suits the moment.

    They should be tried and punished accordingly as is commensurate with their crimes and sets an example that the West holds human life in high esteem. We should show through out acts WHY we hold the moral high ground, the muslim world should be able look at us and see how ethi cally we treat even those who are our greatest enemy. We can’t claim the moral high-ground and commit atrocities at the same time. We have to differentiate ourselves from the terrorists whose ideals are hate and mercilessness, not become like them.

  • Reid

    I think the idea is simply that we (the US, Britain, Australia, and our other partners) already have enough on our plates fighting Islamic terrorism and, we don’t want to go opening another front by torquing up the entire Islamic world. Discussion of whether the Koran deserves special consideration or not is another argument for another time.

  • Verity

    Sandy P – What things? Photos of camels not wearing any saddles?

  • GCooper

    Reid writes:

    “Discussion of whether the Koran deserves special consideration or not is another argument for another time.”

    Is it? What possible consideration can it deserve? Unless you are barking mad, the answer can only be “no”.

  • Verity

    G Cooper – I was going to write a similar comment, but I thought I had probably been overly visible and tedious on this subject, so restrained myself. Briefly.

    I understand Reid’s point: one thing at a time, but this is not always sage. The more their koran gets embedded as something the entire planet has to “respect”, the more difficult it will be to un-embed it. Don’t let this strange, bizarre and utterly foolish notion take root.

    Condoleezza Rice had no legal justification for referring in public to “the holy koran” – just cowardice – and is that what Americans really want in a Secretary of State? If she’d referred to the Christian Bible as “the holy Bible”, the ACLU would have crawled all over her ass. Same if she’d dared to say “the holy Torah”.

    She should never have said it, and she should have been called to account immediately. She was bullied into it and this isn’t a good sign.

    Once you’ve given someone something temporarily – be it respect or a riding lawnmower, you may have one hell of a job getting it back.

  • Excellent point, Verity.

  • GCooper

    I know it’s tedious when people post “me to” comments, but I must back what Alisa says about Verity’s post.

    This creeping, reflexive elevation of the koran to special status above all the world’s books of speculative fiction (I might have meant to type “holy books” there) is positively disgusting. In efect, what it means is that Moslems have suicide bombed their way to special status.

    I think they call that victory, don’t they?

  • Verity

    Condoleezza Rice should have been reprimanded, in public – as in a comment from the President or Veep – immediately she made that cowardly error.

    G Cooper is correct: that they have managed to get the United States Secretary of State to refer to their bible as “holy”, despite that she has breached separation of church and state, means bombing and decapitation works.

    Now to the advance. Despite the separation of church and state, they are already in the public schools with “information packs” (and someone to explain them) and the practise of taqqiya and kitman is well underway. “Such a little thing,” they will have whined to Condoleezza Rice’s people. “Our people ask only that you respect our holy koran. It is offensive to our ears when it is not given its status as a holy book. That is all our seven million Muslim American citizens ask.”

    Seven million, by the way, is another lie. It is the figure the plotters and planners for Muslim advancement in the United States have judged as though it has sufficient critical mass to be worth appeasing for the sake of votes. The actual figure, according to the US census, is around 2 1/2 to 3m.

    Taqiyya and kitman. Taqiyya and kitman. Lies, lies, lies, lies. Manipulation. Whining … and advancement.

  • GCooper

    My apologies for the illiterate post, above. “Me to” indeed! And a dropped character! The shame….

    There was, however, a good side to flying out of the door, posting without checking. I got the last remaining copy of the Sunday Telegraph at my local newsagent, so was able to read how Phoney Tony’s ever-so-tasteful white plastic wristband is actually made in a Chinese factory that uses slave labour.

    Anyone care to join me in a ‘make Blair history’ campaign? I know this factory in Shenzhen….

    A little more on-topic, Telegraph readers may also have noted the story on Western monitoring of Islamist websites. Those who bothered to wade through the predictable Islamic rot, will, like me, I suspect, have read the words of the brother of a suicide bomber and sighed a deep sigh.

    There is no possibility of reconciliation with these maniacs. It is a liberal myth, which makes it all the more shocking that Ms. Rice has fallen from it. Plainly, she is nothing like as bright as has been claimed.

  • Verity

    G Cooper – I noted your spelling mistake and was shocked. Shocked! You are the most scrupulous proofreader of all of us here.

    Re the Secretary of State, we should not forget who trained her at Stamford: Madeleine Albright’s father. She may be a good capitalist and free marketeer, but on the geopolitical scene, I suspect she teeters towards the globalista pov.

    Anyone naive enough not to realise the impression that the US Secretary of State according the imprimateur of the word “holy” on the religious text of people who have done the West intolerable harm, is not a political realist.

    I hope the Americans hold her to account for this, because she is a very intelligent individual and she didn’t do this by mistake. She caved into whining pressure. Is she really committed to the WoT? Does she think it can be “negotiated”?

  • Verity

    BTW, I forgot to mention earlier, the secretary of state’s actual words were: “Disrespect for the holy Koran is not now, nor has it ever been, nor will it ever be, tolerated by the United States,” she said. (BBC News, and other reports.) Wha’?

    Is ‘disrespect’ for the ‘holy Koran’ a new offence? What’s the penalty? How is she defining ‘disrespect’?

  • The difference betwen us and them is we provide them with the Koran when they are prisoners. They cut our heads off and video it.

    Whilst I think desecrating the Koran in front of Muslim prisoners would be both Ungentlemenly and Counterproductive, one should keep things in perspective.