matttbastard at Comments from Left Field (where I’ve been posting this week, thus my absence from here) points to what he calls “the ‘WTF?!’ story of the day” – a piece by the WaPo’s Walter Pincus, one of the few real reporters the paper’s got left, on the way the commander of our detention camps has borrowed a leaf from the Chinese Communists’ Handbook of Re-education.
The U.S. military has introduced “religious enlightenment” and other education programs for Iraqi detainees, some of whom are as young as 11, Marine Maj. Gen. Douglas M. Stone, the commander of U.S. detention facilities in Iraq, said yesterday.
Stone said such efforts, aimed mainly at Iraqis who have been held for more than a year, are intended to “bend them back to our will” and are part of waging war in what he called “the battlefield of the mind.” Most of the younger detainees are held in a facility that the military calls the “House of Wisdom.”
The religious courses are led by Muslim clerics who “teach out of a moderate doctrine,” Stone said, according to the transcript of a conference call he held from Baghdad with a group of defense bloggers. Such schooling “tears apart” the arguments of al-Qaeda, such as “Let’s kill innocents,” and helps to “bring some of the edge off” the detainees, he said.
First, somebody needs to explain to me why we’ve got 11-yr-olds in jail. Second, Gen Stone’s optimism may be, it seems to me, slightly misplaced. I mean, wouldn’t it seem fairly obvious to the meanest observer that the occupation of their country, the murder of hundreds of thousands of civilians, and the fact that they’re in jail basically for being Iraqi might explain their “extremism”?
I guess not.
But it gets worse.
As a result of the increased U.S. troop presence in Iraq this year, the number of Iraqis in U.S. detention has swelled from about 10,000 last year to more than 25,000. The effort to reshape attitudes among the growing detainee population is aimed at addressing a problem that has vexed U.S. troops in Iraq for the past four years: Military detention facilities have served as breeding grounds for extremist views, transforming some prisoners into hard-core insurgents, according to military analysts.
25,ooo Iraqis in US jails. 25,000! Almost doubling, in a single year, the number we incarcerated over the past 6 years. And they can’t figure out why extremists are flourishing?
But wait – there’s more.
Stone said he wants to identify “irreconcilables” — those detainees whose views cannot be moderated — and “put them away” in permanent detention facilities. Psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors and interrogators help distinguish the extremists from others, he said.
After reassessments and interrogations, Stone said, some detainees are recommended for release. “If a detainee is an imperative security risk . . . then I’m going to reduce that risk and I’m going to replace that destructive ideology,” he said. “And then when he’s assessed to no longer be a threat, I’m going to release the detainee being less likely to be a recidivist.”
This is precisely the rationale the Chinese used to justify their “re-education camps” during – and after – the Cultural Revolution. An American General who’s stealing his tactics from Chairman Mao? What the hell’s going on here, anyway? The only thing that’s missing from this set-up is Mao’s system of half-way houses to help “rehabilitated” rebels ease back into proper Communist society.
Oops. I spoke too soon.
Other elements of Stone’s program are being developed. He said he has created a “transition-out barracks” where detainees being released discuss civics and human rights. He has also begun a “huge, expensive” Rand Corp. research study on detainee motivation and morale and has plans for a major communication campaign.
“Communication campaign” is very nearly Maoist language for “propaganda campaign”. What in the name of Jeebus are we turning into?
Never mind. The tactic may be Maoist but the intent is pure capitalism.
He said he also wants to provide jobs for released detainees. “I’m not naive,” Stone said. “If they don’t have any income, they’re going to go back” to the insurgency.
How he’s going to do that in a country where the only jobs available are with US firms that have a policy of hiring foreigners, he doesn’t explain. But never mind. His heart is in the right place, n’est-pas?
Update: Somehow I missed this little gem, which is full-bore creepitude.
Stone described a sort of religious insurgency that occurred at one detention facility on Sept. 2. “We had a compound of moderates for the first time overtake . . . extremists. It’s never happened before. Found them, identified them, threw them up against the fence and shaved their frickin’ beards off of them. . . . I mean, that is historic.”
“Historic”. Um, yeah. Like the Chinese Commies, we’re teaching Iraqis to turn on each other based on the fact that some wear beards – which is, I remind you, a religious observance with some Muslims, not just radical extremist bomb-throwing Muslims. But then, as Michael Savage and Serious Foreign Policy Wise Man Michael Ledeen have said many times, a raghead’s a raghead, eh?
Are we proud yet?