The World O' Crap Archive

Welcome to the Collected World O' Crap, a comprehensive library of posts from the original Salon Blog, and our successor site, (2006 to 2010).

Current posts can be found here.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

September 26, 2003 by s.z.

National Blog for Ann Day
We just learned that today is "National Talk Like Bill O'Reilly Day."  We find it unfortunate that people have to learn these kinds of things on the street, or from Atrios, but that's today's elite media for you: too busy killing our troops by reporting bad news to cover something that matters to REAL Americans. 
While we're bitterly disappointed that we didn't know this earilier (we've been practicing our "argghs" and "mateys" all year), we are somewhat comforted by the fact that Bill isn't going to particpate either.  Here's part of the transcript where he confesses that he's just not up for talking like Bill OReilly anymore, and admits that his life is just a lie (Bill Breaks Down):
O'REILLY: You know, I'm too old. I'm afraid I'm...
GUEST: Oh, Bill.
O'REILLY: I know. I've always been boring anyway.
Anyway, since we missed the festivities, we are proposing our OWN event: National Blog For Ann Day.  As you know (or don't care), this was announced in June (Because She Has More to Say, Alas):
Ann regularly will offer her thoughts on issues and ideas of the day here on her blog, CoulterGeist, exclusively on Human Events Online. If you thought her weekly column and her books raised the ire of liberals, wait until the Left gets a load of CoulterGeist.  
Okay, I have been waiting and waiting, but nothing has happened.  No ire, no thoughts, no Left getting a load.  Nothing.  Apparently, Ann has performance anxiety or has run out of invective or something.  So, I propose that we help her out by doing a day of blogging for her.  It can be any day which is convenient for everybody.  Just let me know when it is this time, okay?

4:54:34 PM    

Spry VS Spy

Okay, you're going to have to endulge me on this.  Investigating cases of suspected espionage is a subject I actually know something about.  Therefore, Mona Charen's latest article (in which she asks the question Who Can You Trust?, and implies that that the answer is "Not the Muslims!" and ends up blaming the still-developing Guantanamo Bay espionage mess on political correctness run amuck) managed to annoy me a tad, mostly because it makes no sense.  Follow along, while I set her straight and tell you WAY more than you ever wanted to know about this topic, if you have the inclination. 

If you don't, come back later and I promise that I will deliver my report on Magic Meat Pie (it turns out that the magic is in the gravy!)  Plus, I'll tell you all about new wife Mary Sue Parsons and how she overcame her husband's verbal abuse ("bride's biscuits," he called them) with the help of Aunt Jenny, Spry, and an affair with Biff Henderson.  AND, I'll tell you about what my confidential source (Ivan) found out about Spry by eliciting incriminating information from My Little Margie. 

But now, it's spy time.  Mona begins her piece:
This ought to shut up our European detractors who've been screaming that we are torturing prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Not only do we provide the inmates there with medical care, surgery, dentistry, reading matter, familiar and religiously permitted foods, copies of the Koran and religious services -- we've also provided spies. Two, at least -- and counting -- to judge from news reports.
Because providing spies is the height of hospitality (4-star hotels offer at least one per floor, available, day or night, for all your espionage needs), and the fact that Ahmad al Halabi, the Baklava Spy, is said by authorities to have "expressed sympathy for and had unauthorized contact with the detainees" (thus proving his guilt as a spy) unquestionably means those prisoners are living the life of Reilly, and so the stupid Europeans should shut the hell up.

She goes on to recount what the press has said about James Yee, the Spying Chaplain, who converted to Islam,  resigned his commission to study Islam and Arabic in Syria, then rejoined the Army and was assigned to Guantanamo.
Both the Pentagon and the State Department boasted of his appointment. He claimed to believe that violence was un-Islamic. Whether that was a cover or a sincerely held belief will now be probed in a court martial.
I don't mean to quibble while Mona is working herself into a dudgeon, but wouldn't the purpose of the court maritial be to determine if Yee is guilty of espionage (which seems a stretch, based on the information presented so far), while it would be for God to judge the sincerity of his religious beliefs?  For even if he was found guilty, that wouldn't necessarily mean that he was lying about what he thought Islam was all about--he could just be a BAD Muslim who couldn't live up to his religious ideals.  You know, like how Robert Hanssen was a devout Catholic, but a bad one who sold secrets to the Russians for money.  And how Jonathan Pollard was not a shining example of Judaism, despite his attempts to say that he did what he did for his religion.  Their crimes are not an indictment of Christianity or Judaism, but merely of themselves. 
Mona then asks irately:
How is it possible that a man who spends four years in Syria is not more closely scrutinized by the United States military? Syria routinely appears on the State Department's list of terror-sponsoring nations. The notorious Bekka Valley in Lebanon -- nest of the world's most vile terrorists -- is a protectorate of the Syrian state.
It turns out that the military relies for chaplain referrals on several American Islamic groups with questionable loyalties.
Actually, we don't (me and Mona, that is) know anything about how closely the US military scrutinized Yee before they assigned him to Guantanamo.  It's entirely possible that they did a probing investigation into his background, asked him all kinds of intrusive questions, and then polygraphed him in an effort to ascertain the truthfulness of his answers, and found him as blameless and loyal as Mona, despite having spent time in Syria.  And even so, he could be a spy now.  People are not immutable, you know.

And it's also possible that the military didn't do anything beyond the norm (for a Secret clearance, that would be checks with other government agencies for records of criminal activity or known security problems) to vet Yee, because they had a job to do, a notably short list of people who could do it, and no inclination to spend the time and money to do meticulous security screenings for the hundreds of people that it takes to keep the facility running.  We just don't know at this point what the Army did or didn't do, just like we don't know exactly what Yee did, and what Syria has to do with anything. 

The "chaplain referrals" that Mona is talking about would actually be "Ecclesiastical Endorsements, from a DoD recognized endorser," and are nothing more than somebody who can speak authoritatively for a particular religion saying that they think an applicant would make an okay chaplain.  (Per the Army's Chaplain Recruiter Brochure, the endorsement must state that you are "A clergy person in your denomination or faith group; Qualified spiritually, morally, intellectually and emotionally to serve as a Chaplain in the Army; and Sensitive to religious pluralism and able to provide for the free exercise of religion by all military personnel, their family members and civilians who work for the Military.")  The Army is responsible for the checking out the rest of the applicant's credentials and fitness, and for only assigning him to appropriate positions.  So, it's not like the Army's mistake here was listening to "The American Muslim Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Council" when it said, "That Yee is a really good guy; you should ignore his time in Syria, let him back in the Army, and then send him to your secret facility in Cuba.  And then you should look the other way while that al Halabi guy whom you've had under investigation since November (and who has nothing to do with us anyway), collects info from your prisoners there.  That's what we think would be best, and you'd better do it or we'll tell everybody you're politically incorrect."  That did not actually happen.

So, while Mona is right that maybe we shouldn't be asking groups whom we know aren't on the up-and-up to vouch for chaplains (read her article if you want to know which Muslim associations shes drops a dime on), the fact that the group which recommended Yee is alleged to have ties with another group which was founded by a guy who sympathizes with Hammas, does not have anything to do with Mona's question of "How is it possible that a man who spends four years in Syria is not more closely scrutinized by the United States military?"

Mona concludes:
Does this mean that there are no loyal American Muslims? Obviously not.
It just IMPLIES it.
But it does suggest that simple common sense should dictate caution on the part of our government.  Check twice about the affiliations of domestic Islamic groups. Some are totally sane and patriotic. But others are not. Islam is widely infected with the radical virus. Wahhabism and Khomeinism exert wide appeal right now, and those Muslims who oppose these radical movements are understandably frightened and cowed.
Check twice about their affiliations before doing what exactly? In her haste to declare Islam "widely infected with the radical virus," she never said what she wants our government to do.  I suppose she means "check all domestic Islamic groups by, um, tapping their phones, infiltrating their mosques, and checking their library records before we let them recommend any more chaplains to serve in our overseas facilities housing al-Quaida prisoners," but since that doesn't seem like something that comes up that often (or has anything to do with the spy investigations currently in the news), I don't know how helpful a recommendation this really is.
We are always at pains to prove how open-minded and accepting we are as a nation -- which is fine, to a point. But we cannot permit political correctness to keep us from self-preservation.
No, of course not.  Because it obviously was political correctness (But refresh my memory of what instance -- providing a Islamic chaplain for the prisoners?  Allowing Muslims in our armed forces?  Not just killing the prisoners in the first place?), that got us into this situation where a chaplin endangered our entire nation by having some lists of names in his possession.  And we can never, ever let it happen again.

Okay, tirade over.  You can go about your business now.

5:13:16 AM    

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