Friday, 3 June 2005
I thought about writing this essay as a satire, but the problem is that what I'm about to tell you is more unbelievable than anything I could make up!
From the "Now I've Heard Everything" department: CNN reports that "A U.S. military investigation into the mishandling of the Muslim holy book at the Guantanamo Bay prison for suspected terrorists has determined that detainees--not U.S. soldiers--attempted to flush the Quran down the toilet there." The military investigation did yield four examples of "accidents" that some prisoners might have considered disrespectful to the Quran, such as a guard's urine accidentally coming through an air vent and splashing both a prisoner and his copy of the Quran, and a water balloon fight that got two Qurans wet. CNN also reports that "In a fifth confirmed incident, it could not be determined whether a guard or a detainee wrote a two-word obscenity in a detainee's Quran."
Let's evaluate the military's evaluation. How credible is it that fundamentalist Muslims would try to flush their own copy of the Quran down a toilet? If they wanted to use the incident for propaganda purposes, they could just make the story up, as the Bush administration has already claimed they did. No, if a copy of the Quran was flushed at Guantanamo Bay, it wasn't a detainee who did it.
What about a guard's urine coming through an air vent and splashing both a prisoner and his copy of the Quran? I'm guessing that if urine came through an air vent, it didn't get there by accident. In fact, I would be willing to bet that "splashing" isn't the verb that should be used here, but rather "urinating," or a slang equivalent thereof.
The water balloon incident sounds harmless enough, and could be a legitimate accident, but I wonder why the prisoners would have been reading their Quran out of doors anywhere near the place where guards were horsing around. And how exactly did two Qurans get wet?
As to whether a guard or a detainee wrote a two-word obscenity in the detainee's Quran, I have a simple question that will solve the riddle: was it written in English or in Arabic? Furthermore, how credible is it that a fundamentalist Muslim would write an obscenity in any language in a copy of the Quran?
To put it mildly, the military's "investigative" report doesn't pass the stink test. It smells a whole lot like the original military versions of the Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman stories, and we all know how much truth those reports contained. Just how stupid do they think the American public is?