Saturday, October 28, 2006

Orson Scott Card on Groupthink and the Intelligencia of Science

Fascinating review of a book on String Theory, how it swallowed the entire world of physics, and how no one seemed to notice that it was probably wrong.

With comments on the sorry state of academia in general and what we should do about it. Job one? Laugh your head off. Point the finger. Say the emperor's naked.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Thursday, October 26, 2006

James Lileks Does Andrew Sullivan

Hugh Hewitt did an interview with Andrew Sullivan yesterday, and in homage to the Andrew Sullivan argumentation method, James Lileks discusses the weather with Hugh.

Priceless.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

VDH Evaluates the Collective Mentality of the Middle East

From today's blog entry over at Works and Days (Victor Davis Hanson).

It is difficult in history to find any civilization that asks as much of others as does the contemporary Middle East—and yet so little of itself. If I were to sum up the collective mentality of the current Arab Middle East—predicated almost entirely on the patriarchal sense of lost “honor” and the rational calculation to murder appeasing liberals and appease murdering authoritarians—it would run something like the following:

(1) We will pump oil at $3 and must sell it over $50—and still blame you for stealing our natural treasure.

(2) We will damn your culture and politics, but expect our own to immigrate in the thousands to your shores; upon arrival any attempt to integrate Muslim immigrants into Western pluralistic society will be seen as Islamaphobic.

(3) Send us your material goods, whether machine tools, iPods, or antibiotics. We desperately want them, but will neither make the necessary changes in our own statist, authoritarian, religiously intolerant, tribal, and patriarchal culture to allow us to produce them ourselves, nor will show any appreciation for the genius of others who can do what we cannot.

(4) We ostensibly wish you to stop the killing of Muslims by ourselves and others—Milosevic murdering Kosovars, Saddam destroying Kuwaitis, Kurds, and Shiites, Russians killing Afghans and Chechnyans—but should you concretely attempt to do so, we will immediately consider your intervention far worse than the mayhem caused by others or ourselves.

(5) Any indigenous failure in the Arab Middle East will eventually be blamed on the United States or Israel.

(6) Your own sense of multiculturalism must serve as an apology for our own violent pathologies, that can only be seen as different from, never worse than, your own culture.

(7) We must at all times talk of anti-Americanism and why we want you out of the Middle East; you must never become anti-Arab or anti-Muslim, much less close your borders to our immigrants and students.

(8) We will tolerate and often defend those who burn churches, ethnically cleanse Jews from our cities, behead priests, kill nuns, and shoot infidels as the necessary, if sometimes regrettable, efforts of our more zealous to defend Islam. But if any free spirit in the West satirizes Islam, we will immediately demand that Western governments condemn such blasphemy—or else!

(9) Material aid—billions to Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, or the Palestinians—is our entitlement. Any attempt to curtail it is seen as an assault on the Arab nation.

(10) We are deathly afraid of nuclear Russia, China, and India who have little tolerance for either Islamism or terrorism, and so will ignore their felonies, while killing you for your misdemeanors.

The lefties who piped up in the comment section predictably argued that VDH was generalizing, and pointed out that there are plenty of Muslims and Middle Easterners who don't hold the opinions expressed above. But for crying out loud, people, when you make a generalization, that automatically implies that there are exceptions. It's the "collective mindset," which means that it's the mindset that predominates, not the mindset that uniformly permeates every Middle Easterner's brain. Geez Louise, lefties have mucked up discourse. They think that if they point out that there are exceptions to the rule, that the rule is thereby invalidated.

Try again, ya morons. Prove that VDH's propositions are not widely held, not that they aren't universally held.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Great Moments in Blog Comment Threads

This from Right Wing News:

So what exactly is the point of [Air America's] existence?

by CoolCzech on 2006-10-20 08:36:22


To keep Al Franken Off TV.

by Don_cos on 2006-10-20 08:46:15


Franken is about as funny as a rotator cuff repair surgery and the physical therapy afterwards.

by lumberjack7393 on 2006-10-20 08:51:47


Whoa, wait a second, let's not say anything we can't take back.

Rotator cuff surgery is way funnier than Al Franken.

by Glibertarian on 2006-10-20 08:56:57

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Mystery of David Kuo

I heard a little of the buzz on the sinistrosphere right after Kuo's book came out, the one that says that the Republicans are manipulating the Christian Evangelicals and don't have any high regard for them, e.g., some White House staffers referred to them as "nuts" or "kooks." The owner of the blog (name forgotten) said, "Geez, why don't they wake up to the fact that they're being used?"

Knee-jerk reaction, in other words. I thought that the Evangelicals were using the Repubs, myself, so what Kuo was saying didn't make any sense at all.

Then I saw snippets of his interview on 60 Minutes. He sat there, all oily-faced and, er, smug, I thought. Saying things like religious people should "take a fast" from politics because we're being used. He told his interviewer that religious people should be taking up causes like poverty and not necessarily strictly political things like abortion law and such.

Later, from the Laura Ingraham show on Monday, I learned that Kuo is the former deputy for the Faith-Based Initiative program in DC and a staunch conservative.

Geez, David, what gives? What's with releasing a book like this in October, right before the election, and suggesting that the religious stay home from the polls this year? Didja pull a Huffington on us? Did you "grow" into the Washington scene? Were you tired of being thought stupid by all your hip friends, so you thought you'd throw them a bone so that you could hold your head up among them?

I was most unimpressed.

This morning, again on Laura Ingraham, he defended himself. After she played a clip of his appearance on 60 Minutes, he said, "geez, could I sound any more earnest?"

Laura pummeled him lightly for allowing himself to be used by the media like this. (She knows him from before.) He defended himself by describing the content of the book and some of the events that led to his becoming a conservative and a Christian and why he's become a bit disillusioned by the political world.

It sounds like he has witnessed the collision between religious belief, which is a tender and personal thing, and the buzzsaw of politics. It isn't pretty, of course. It bothered him that when he introduced himself as Christian, people automatically assumed that he was for this and that political position, but didn't seem to relate to his more personal convictions.

He also explained that his contract with Simon & Schuster said that his book would be released in early 2007. S&S being owned by the same parent company that owns CBS. Hmm.

And he bristled at the suggestion that he had been used by the media.

But David, I'm sorry, you were. Most of the people in the country will not read your book, so they won't get the nuance of your position, which is that Christianity is about much more than politics. Well, duh. Most of us know that. Most of us aren't hip-deep in Washington politics, either, so we're not privy to how the sausage of law is made. That you're disillusioned and want to take a step back is understandable.

But that's not the message that got out. 60 Minutes doesn't do live interviews, so they can edit you however they want. And what it sounded like to me was that you had made a big Left turn and were cynically telling Evangelicals to stay home because the Republicans have snarky opinions about religious folk. (I don't doubt that, BTW. Not all Repubs are religious, and some religious people, quite frankly, deserve the "kook" label.) It seemed that you had timed the release of your book to affect the election. It sounded like you had let Washington get to you in all the wrong ways. No way would CBS have let you say anything different.

Of course, this could end up working out well after all. Monday callers to Laura's show were pissed as heck, saying that no one was going to tell them to stay home.

And I'm not staying home, either, neither did I ever intend to. Of course, I vote in Utah, so it's not like the Repubs are ever in any danger of being unseated. Orrin Hatch would have to sodomize infants in the Salt Lake temple to earn enough voter wrath to oust him, and even then the election would be close.

Monday, October 16, 2006

More on honor

In this straightforward article on how honor plays a role in Muslim society, Jonathan Rauch observes that "traditional honor cultures value vindication over freedom and wealth. Militant Islamism and Baathist-style national socialism offer narratives of restored greatness and heroic resistance. Ballot boxes and shopping malls offer neither. If freedom brings humiliation, what good is it?"

Uy.

He makes a good point. The point being that those Muslims who seek to avenge their damaged honor will not find satisfaction in the "revenge of living well," as the Japanese and Germans did. Not at this point, at least. It is a good question to ask in the face of the Bush doctrine, which asserts that all humans yearn for liberty, so we'll give it to them, and if we don't get their gratitude, at least they'll be too busy hashing out their own matters of governance to come after us.

I am a pessimist by nature, and frequently despair that life will ever get any better. My life, that is. But I have a hard time shaking the feeling that democratizing Iraq has got to work. It's got to because the alternative is not particularly palatable, either for the Iraqis or for the rest of the world.

So how far does this honor thing go? Has it evenly penetrated all corners of the ummah, or is it present mostly in those who crave power: the malignant narcissists and their enablers, young men, and some imams. At what point would some of the Muslims who currently march in protests or vandalize cars say "hey, we're not willing to go that far to protect our stupid honor"?

Or at what point will naive Westerners, including myself at times, realize that it's going to be a choice between defeating and being defeated, that the moderate Muslims will stick with the ummah as long as they appear to be winning (and for some time after that), and that the moderates who bail out earlier than that will be killed?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Eric Hoffer Gets It

Quoting Eric Hoffer's The Ordeal of Change

To the intellectual the struggle for freedom is more vital than the actuality of a free society. He would rather work, fight, talk, for liberty than have it. The fact is that up to now the free society has not been good for the intellectual. It has neither accorded him a superior status to sustain his confidence nor made it easy for him to acquire an unquestioned sense of social usefulness. For he derives his sense of usefulness mainly from directing, instructing, and planning---from minding other people's business---and is bound to feel superfluous and neglected where people believe themselves competent to manage individual and communal affairs, and are impatient of supervision and regulation. A free society is as much a threat to the intellectual's sense of worth as an automated society is to the workingman's sense of worth. Any social order that can function with a minimum of leadership will be anathema to the intellectual.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Psychology of Muslims vis a vis the West

Isaac Schrodinger provides a primer on how Muslims react to the West. (h/t Muslihoon).

He breaks them down into four groups:

1) Indifferent -- They don't care one way or the other about the difference between the West and the Middle East.

2) Unnatural Thoughts -- They simultaneously support Western values such as human rights while not objecting to opposing mandates in the Quran.

3) Recoiling from the West -- The wild abandon and sensuality of the West repulses them, so they become ├╝ber-Muslims.

4) Embracing the Infidelosphere -- They remain Muslim, but they embrace the free exchange of ideas and human rights and stuff.

He lists some interesting thought patterns among the third group:

• Jooooos control the banks/news/world.
• The US should have left Afghanistan alone.
• Osama was framed for 9/11.
• The US is the most evil regime on Earth. (A few minutes later: Saudi Arabia is truly an ideal country.)
• I'm for free speech BUT...if it hurts Muslims...disrespects Islam...shows Muhammed in a thong...then "the racists" should be punished.
• I'm against suicide bombings BUT...
• There is a great non-Muslim conspiracy against Islam.
• Alcohol sellers and consumers, gays, uppity women and apostates should be punished.
• It is a crime to find a floating Quran in a toilet. Nothing wrong with Sharia, though.

Wisdom from Machiavelli

And what physicians say about disease is applicable here: that at the beginning a disease is easy to cure but difficult to diagnose; but as time passes, not having been treated or recognized at the outset, it becomes easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. The same thing occurs in affairs of state; for by recognizing from afar the diseases that are spreading in the state (which is a gift given only to a prudent ruler), they can be cured quickly; but when they are not recognized and are left to grow to the extent that everyone recognizes them, there is no longer any cure. -- Niccolo Machiavelli

I lifted this quote from a Right Wing News post on lawlessness in France, where police are injured at the rate of 14 per day by unemployed youths from North Africa.

Machiavelli might have been a predatory little snot, but he certainly was perceptive.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Great Moments in Blog Comment Threads

This time, it's a thread about State Hate on Ace of Spades. Guestblogger Michael proposes that we all dump on Idaho, because it's kosher to be bigoted against people for their state of origin. But people can't seem to stay on topic. :D

Letter to Dennis Prager

I agree with much of what Dennis Prager says, but sometimes I think he's way off. Such as the time he took on the concept of unconditional love, opining that it's not a good thing because then we end up rewarding people for bad behavior. His callers all objected, most (I bet) being Christians and therefore having been told that unconditional love is a virtue one ought to cultivate.

But neither Dennis nor his callers caught on to the fact that they weren't talking about the same thing. The show was some time ago (don't remember when); I wrote this today and e-mailed it to him.

*****

Dennis:

I love your guts and all, but when you argue against unconditional love, it drives me straight up the wall, especially when you deal with callers.

Because you're totally talking past each other. The word "love" in English is extremely problematic. It encompasses so many different things that it's almost useless, as illustrated in the child's joke that goes, "I love chocolate pudding." "Oh yeah, then why don't you marry it?"

I think it would be useful for the sake of argument to break down "love" into the four loves of Greek philosophy: eros, philos, storge, and agape. The former two loves are conditional, and the latter two are unconditional. Or to put it another way, the former two arise from the merits of the object of love, and the latter two arise from the merits of the one who loves.

Eros, of course, is based on the merits (perceived or real) of the beloved. If the beloved is found wanting, or if the beloved mistreats the lover, eros can evaporate. (Battered wives who stay with their husbands do so not because they love their husbands but because they so desperately need to be loved by their husbands that they consider the abuse a reasonable price to pay for it, even though that "love" is of very low quality.)

Likewise, philos, friendship, is based on the merits of the object of our friendship. Philos requires trustworthiness, admirability, nobility, and enjoyment of that person's company. Philos doesn't have to be mutual, because we can have a great deal of admiration for people we have never met. I would say that any affections one might have for the Founders or Lincoln fall into the category of philos. (Or at least it does for the sake of my argument.) If you were to find out that Washington was a traitor, your philos for him would vanish. Not because of a fault in you, but because of a fault in him.

Storge is the ultimate in unmerited love. Parents love their children from the moment they are born, but newborns have done absolutely nothing to merit that love. You can of course attribute this love to the powerful hormones and neurochemicals that accompany birth. This is not to degrade it, just to explain it. If a parent fails to love a child, it is because there is something wrong with the parent, not with the child.

Agape arises entirely from the merits of the one who loves. It is a virtue to be cultivated in one's own soul. It requires that the one who loves possess empathy, compassion, patience, and be free from envy, prejudices, vanity, and selfishness. To acquire agape, you must see others the way God sees them and love them the way God loves them. God loves us because He is good, not because we are.

When you argue against unconditional love, you say that you worry that people are loving those who don't merit it, thus condoning bad behavior or bad character. But storge and agape don't work like that. Let me provide some examples:

Here in Utah, there were two families that lived in the same neighborhood, the Hackings and the Soareses. They were good friends, and to their delight, Mark Hacking and Lori Soares fell in love and got married, making their two families one. They were all excited when Mark announced that he had been admitted to medical school in North Carolina. Lori enthusiastically prepared for the move. But then one day she mysteriously disappeared during her morning jog.

Volunteers fanned out to look for her, but then disturbing facts came out. Mark had not been admitted to med school, and in fact he hadn't worked at the medical facility where he said he worked. It was all a lie. Eventually, Mark confessed that he had shot Lori when she discovered the lie and tossed her body into a dumpster. He was arrested and encarcerated.

The Hacking and Soares families were of course devastated. But at no time did they stop loving Mark. Mark's confession was to his own brother, and his brother went to the police with that confession. Not because he had stopped loving Mark, but because he knew that it was in Mark's best interest to face the music and suffer the consequences of his actions. They stood by Mark during his trial to offer moral support, but at no time did they attempt to shield him from facing justice, nor did they lie for him or thwart the police investigation.

They still love Mark, though I'm sure they've had to mourn the loss of the Mark they thought they knew and learn to accept the Mark that sits in that jail cell. They don't admire Mark. They don't trust him. But they do value his soul and they want what's best for him. And what's best for Mark is that he be in jail.

(Many years before, Mark suffered a head injury, which may have damaged his brain. He is obviously a sociopath now, though he might not have been before the injury.)

At any rate, ask yourself: what if one of your sons turned out to be a sociopath? What if he suddenly murdered his wife without remorse? What if you found out? Your love for your son would not cease, though you would be horrifically disappointed in him, disillusioned beyond measure, and your heart would be broken into a thousand pieces. Would you turn him in? I have to believe that you would. Not because you didn't love him anymore, but because you did. Because you didn't want him to do any more harm.

Likewise, one who possesses agape would regard Osama bin Laden thus: He is a son of God and therefore his soul is of infinite value. However, he has also cultivated wicked desires in his heart and acted on them. He has wrought mayhem and murder on the face of the earth and encouraged others to do the same. Not only is it in the world's best interest that he be stopped, it is in his own best interest that he be stopped. Every day that he walks free, he accrues more horror to his account, and his soul becomes even more wretched and diminished. If he dies tomorrow, Judgment Day will be horrific enough; allowing him to make it worse by not stopping him is a disservice to bin Laden himself.

Agape would require that if we did capture him alive (and killing him outright would not be a bad thing), we would not subject him to gratuitous cruelty. We would also not allow him contact with the outside world, thus preventing him from continuing to wreak havoc. We would not allow him to manipulate us, nor would we spare him the consequences of his actions. We would not hate his guts; rather, we would feel deep sorrow at the terrible choices he has made, at the monster he has become, and at the suffering he has wrought.

A third example: From God's perspective, which was the greater tragedy during the Holocaust -- that the Jews et al. suffered and lost their lives, or that the Nazis lost their souls? Stopping the Nazis from doing further harm was an obvious benefit to the world, but it was also a benefit to the Nazis, to prevent them from degenerating further (supposing that were possible).

I know you cite examples from the Old Testament wherein the writer states that God hates those who do thus and so. But is that an accurate description of God's state of mind or is it a rhetorical device used by the writer? I suspect that that particular type of expression appears only during a certain era, not throughout the OT. It would seem to reflect the writer's attitude more than God's.

Furthermore, God describes his wrath coming down on sinners, but really, did He destroy Sodom and Gommorah because He has a hot temper or did He need to stop them from degenerating further? If, as I suspect, the inhabitants of S & G had degenerated so far that they were screwing everything that moved, including their own children, would allowing them to continue thus be the response of a loving God? Such destruction might feel like wrath from our point of view, but from His it's an act of pure mercy.

I think what worries you is that in our society, we continue to lavish attention and praise on celebrities despite their bad behavior. Or parents protect their children from experiencing the consequences of their actions by defending them against teachers' accusations of misbehavior, even when the teacher is right. Or friends don't tell on friends when they've done something wrong. I don't think that these are examples of unconditional love at all, but of misplaced loyalties or misjudgment, or in the case of celebrities, plain old idolatry and moral laziness. Or in the case of lefties for the "insurgents," co-dependency. :D

So maybe when you get the urge to rail against unconditional love, maybe you could change your terminology. You might be railing against misguided philos, but your listeners think you're railing against storge and agape. Maybe you should rail against "unconditional tolerance" or "unconditional acceptance." Or bad philos or moral laziness.

Something. Because there's no way you are going to convince your Christian listeners that unconditional love (agape) is a bad thing, because agape is at the core of Christian doctrine. John 3:16 and all that.

Cheers!

Dicentra spectabilis

Friday, October 06, 2006

Steve Beren, from Socialist to Republican

Neo-neocon offers a two-part interview with Steve Beren, Republican candidate for Washington state's 7th District (currently occupied by Democrat Jim McDermott).

Part I

Steve explains how he made the transition from anti-war activist in the 60s and 70s to Republican in the 21st century.

Part II

Steve explains anti-war rhetorical tactics and how he predicted, even during the temporary unity following 9-11, that the anti-war activists would start up sooner rather than later.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The true story of Club Gitmo

Patterico is running a series of posts wherein he interviews "Stashiu," a medic who worked at Gitmo and who interacted directly with the prisoners from November 2005 until May 2006. Stashiu absolutely will not tell his story to anyone from the Mainstream Media. He is so thoroughly disgusted by the distortions and lies about Gitmo that he won't talk to them under any circumstances.

But having been a reader at Patterico for awhile, he trusts him to tell the real story.

Part I
Stashiu is, of course, a pseudonym, but it's not just an internet pseudonym: it's the name he used at Gitmo, to protect his identity. Stashiu says that if he ever encounters any of the detainees on the outside, he'll take the guy out, because if he does run into one of them on the outside, chances are it's not an accident--the guy's out to kill him.

He worked at Gitmo for 6 months as a psychological counselor. He was not involved in interrogation, but with helping them cope with the stress of incarceration, etc.

Part II

"Stashiu’s title was Division Officer for Behavioral Health Services, which meant he spent hours talking to terrorists about what makes them tick."

Most of them spoke some English, and some were quite fluent. When they asked for a translator, "Sometimes it is to try and pry information from the interpreter. Other times it is to avoid answering an uncomfortable question, for whatever reason. Plus, any time they go through an interpreter, they can claim that they were misunderstood due to faulty translation."

What are the terrorists like? "For many of them, think Ted Bundy. Educated, charming, and without conscience for those they consider infidels. Some are truly ill and were taken advantage of because of it. For example, one routinely asked us for an explosive suicide vest so he could assassinate Osama Bin Laden or George Bush for us, whoever he could find first (he was completely serious)."

Were they guilty or innocent? "I didn’t see any that I believe were totally innocent, although it wasn’t my call and it really didn’t matter to their care.... There were a few detainees there who weren’t actually fighting against the Coalition, but they were fighting their own government and would have been executed if we returned them there. Since we are not allowed to ship someone where we have reason to believe they would face torture or death, they are stuck at GTMO until we can find a country to accept them without killing them. But they were combatants of some sort."

Most of the terrorists are well-versed in the Manchester Document, which is the Al Qaeda training document that tells prisoners to "avoid revealing information at all costs, don’t give your real name and claim that you were mistreated or tortured during your detention."

They are all fighting against the US "due to religious zeal and hatred of Americans."

And here's the kicker:
In my opinion, most of them are sincere in their belief they will win for the following reasons:

a. They are told they are assured of victory by their religion. They are raised with the belief that Islam is destined to become the dominant way of life for this planet. No matter how long it takes, it is inevitable. Once Islam is supreme, there will be no war, crime, poverty, or need. These are frequent talking points every Friday in the mosques.

b. Their leaders consistently stress that jihad is working and our culture is a hollow shell. They point to VietNam, Somalia, 9/11, Madrid (both the bombings and the elections immediately following), and the anti-war propagandists here in the United States. . . . The jihadists are constantly told that America is weak-willed and will turn and run if they can be inflicted with enough damage and peace can be delayed long enough.

c. They believe they are more committed to victory at any cost because it is all in God’s name and is the Will of God. They point to our efforts at minimizing both our own casualties and those of civilians. You never see them worry about collateral damage and destroying infrastructure. They see our compassion as weakness and our integrity as blindness to reality.

Part III

This part addresses the hunger strikes and suicide attempts. Of the hunger strikes, the guards were told that no one was to be allowed to die of hunger. "The talk of ‘garden hoses inserted as feeding tubes without lubricant’ and such are all bunk. The Dobhoff tubes used were around the thickness of the little straw you’d get with your milk in elementary school, made of a rubbery material, and always inserted with lubrication."

Of the concessions that the US made to the prisoners:
Many of the detainees also made good-faith efforts to improve things, but I believe that any concessions were hijacked by the extremists and used against everyone else’s efforts. For example, the lights being dimmed, extra bedding, etc....were all used to facilitate the successful suicides. But, before those changes had not been at least tried, the extremists escalated the rhetoric against us saying, “See? They will not do anything to make things better!”

...[T]here were competing objectives among the detainees. Simply, we were in a Catch-22. If concessions were made, one group would say that they could get even more by continuing to cause problems. If concessions weren’t made, the reasoning was that they just weren’t applying enough pressure. There is a hardcore group of AQ there that will try to turn everything they can to their advantage. They circulate untrue stories of torture, poisoned food, desecrated Korans, and many other things. This keeps the tensions high and then they find a way to light the match.


On the suicides? The US tried everything it could to prevent them, but the detainees were determined to carry them out, not from despair, but for propaganda purposes.

The rotation that replaced us was a fine group and would have done everything they could to protect the detainees. I believe the detainees just timed things to take advantage of the new rotation before they had learned all the tricks. The detainees tried when we came in and we had a very sharp learning curve. I believe that the timing of the attempted suicides, the attack on the guard force with the staged suicide, and the successful suicides [were] not an accident.

I believe that those men were ordered to die after months of planning. They knew when new personnel came in and waited until everything could come together. If the personnel rotation had happened a month or two later, I’m certain the suicides would have been a month or two later as well. It was one of the factors they waited for because our rotation was aware of most of their ruses.


Most of the detainees are not truly mentally ill. There are about 16-17% with an Axis I type disorder (biochemical), which is about the same rate as in stateside prisons. Most of the rest of them have an Axis II type disorder (environmental), involving usually Antisocial and Narcissistic Personality Disorders. [No surprise there. --ed.]

Part IV

About the treatment of the detainees by military personnel:

"There were occasions when a guard lost his cool and overstepped... every one I heard about resulted in a courts-martial or other punishment, but there weren’t that many overall (maybe 4 or 5)."

"Consider that flinging “cocktails” of urine, feces, saliva, sperm, vomitus, and combinations thereof was threatened daily by detainees and performed several times each week. Also, verbal abuse from detainees was very common.... This was in addition to physical assaults on guards with everything from shanks, kicks, elbows, and a variety of rather clever makeshift weapons."

"We were told about one female medic who had to have major reconstructive surgery on her face following a detainee assault. She was too close to the beanhole (door opening) and the detainee was able to reach out, grab her head, and pull her face-first into the steel frame of the door, shattering most of the facial bone structure."

Stashiu was not aware of any incidents of abuse except for the ones mentioned above. None. The detainees often said that Gitmo was worse when the Army was in charge, but now that the Navy is running the place, it's better.

They get better medical treatment than US soldiers in the field. Full dental and medical on demand. [That's better than I get. --ed.]

No one touches the Korans except for the prisoners themselves, special librarians, or other Muslims. The guards take pains not to touch them.

"The only Korans I saw, or even heard about, being placed in toilets, torn, or thrown onto the tier were done by detainees.... but these were by individuals without complete control of their behavior, such as a psychotic episode. Heard about two Korans in toilets by the same type of detainee prior to being admitted for psychiatric restabilization. We were very careful about Korans because of the previous media reports, even though they had been discredited."

And about media coverage of Gitmo? Any inaccuracies?

"I believe the biggest one is obviously the alleged torture and abuse. If anything, we were hypersensitive to even giving the appearance of abuse and this was taken advantage of time and time again."

Part V

No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!

For some, they eagerly await days until “reservation” (interrogation) and there are frequently requests to see their interrogator. This is why I said that some fear to return home or they would be killed as traitors. They get to smoke (sometimes 4 or 5 packs at once, uggh!), watch new-release DVDs that have been screened by Intel so they don’t get current events, eat pizza or fast-food, listen to music, smoke a hooka, etc.... The better stuff they give up, the more the interrogators get for them. All of this has been previously released to the public, but you never hear about it in the MSM.

As for Mozzam Begg's accounts of his imprisonments, wherein he says he never encountered soccer fields, libraries, etc.

There was a volleyball court, a basketball court, and a soccer field… all available to detainees who were at the appropriate level in camp. If they were compliant, they were moved to Camp IV (the same one where the fake suicide attempt was used to lure guards into the feces-smeared floor [so the detainees could] assault them).

This was an open area where they had full use of these things, along with ping-pong tables, board games, and a running track (pretty nice one). None of this was for use by guards or other staff, only detainees. Again, all of this has been released to the media but you don’t hear about it.

The library had books in every language spoken by detainees and was for detainees only, but some languages had a limited selection. The library staff would go out to the blocks to checkout books and get books being returned. I don’t know if detainees were ever allowed to go to the library, but it’s possible. I did a lot of work with the library because we used recreational reading as therapy tools.

"I would emphasize that, by doctrine, the jihadis are told to: claim innocence; kidnapping; payment of bounties; abuse of all types; and a history of doing humanitarian work such as preaching, teaching children, building schools, etc… The usual monetary figure is a $5000 “bounty” (their word to me) from guys captured in Pakistan, but I heard that from detainees that I knew for a fact were lying through their teeth. While I can’t say if all of those claims were false, I just don’t know of any that were definitely true."

Do detainees have any access to the outside world?
No TV, radio, or newspapers. Some of the rumors were remarkably accurate as to current events, so they did have some sources of information. I suspected much came from ICRC and defense attorney visits, or [was] possibly overheard from our own personnel, as did many of the people I worked with. Some rumors were hilariously outrageous, but we would not confirm or deny anything they told us, even though we laughed our butts off later. The “news” that Bush had been assassinated brought great joy to the detainees in camp on more than one occasion, although I’m pretty sure that one wasn’t accurate.


*****

The saddest part about this interview is that no one will believe it except those who are not already convinced by the lies that have been told about Gitmo. The outrageous, overheated, hysterical lies, Big Lies, even, that, being repeated so often are then believed to be true. Because everyone says so.