TagIraq

Defense contractor to remove Bible references

jesus code

A Michigan company that manufactures combat rifle sights for the U.S. military that carry Bible verse citations said Thursday it would send kits to remove the inscriptions, NBC reported.

Trijicon Inc. also said it would take off Biblical references from all U.S. military products that are still in the company’s factory and ensure future items do not have any inscriptions on them.

MSNBC: Defense contractor to remove Bible references

Previously: U.S. Military Weapons Inscribed With Secret ‘Jesus’ Bible Codes

(Thanks Bill)

U.S. Military Weapons Inscribed With Secret ‘Jesus’ Bible Codes

jesus code

Coded references to New Testament Bible passages about Jesus Christ are inscribed on high-powered rifle sights provided to the United States military by a Michigan company, an ABC News investigation has found.

The sights are used by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the training of Iraqi and Afghan soldiers. The maker of the sights, Trijicon, has a $660 million multi-year contract to provide up to 800,000 sights to the Marine Corps, and additional contracts to provide sights to the U.S. Army.

U.S. military rules specifically prohibit the proselytizing of any religion in Iraq or Afghanistan and were drawn up in order to prevent criticism that the U.S. was embarked on a religious “Crusade” in its war against al Qaeda and Iraqi insurgents.

ABC: U.S. Military Weapons Inscribed With Secret ‘Jesus’ Bible Codes

(via zacodin)

Does the military have a Christian missionary agenda in Afghanistan

Christopher Hitchens:

More alarming still is a book called Under Orders: A Spiritual Handbook for Military Personnel, by an air-force lieutenant colonel named William McCoy, publicity for which describes the separation of church and state as a “twisted idea.” Nor is this the book’s only publicity: it comes—with its direct call for a religion-based military—with an endorsement from General David Petraeus.

More:

I found I had been sent a near-incredible video clip from the Al Jazeera network. It had been shot at Bagram Air Force Base last year, and it showed a borderline-hysterical address by one Lieutenant Colonel Gary Hensley, chief of the United States’ military chaplains in Afghanistan. He was telling his evangelical audience, all of them wearing uniforms supplied by the taxpayer, that as followers of Jesus Christ they had a collective responsibility “to be witnesses for him.” Heating up this theme, Lieutenant Colonel Hensley went on: “The Special Forces guys, they hunt men, basically. We do the same things, as Christians. We hunt people for Jesus. We do, we hunt them down. Get the hound of heaven after them, so we get them in the kingdom. Right? That’s what we do, that’s our business.”

The comparison to the Special Forces would seem to suggest that the objects of this hunting and hounding are Afghans rather than Americans. But it’s difficult to be certain, and indeed I am invited to Colorado Springs partly because chaplains there have been known to employ taxpayer dollars to turn the hounds of heaven loose on their own students and fellow citizens. As the Bagram tape goes on, however, it becomes obvious that Afghans are the targets in this case. Stacks of Bibles are on display, in the Dari and Pashto tongues that are the main languages in Afghanistan. A certain Sergeant James Watt, a candidate for a military chaplaincy, is shown giving thanks for the work of his back-home church, which subscribed the dough. “I also want to praise God because my church collected some money to get Bibles for Afghanistan. They came and sent the money out,” he beamingly tells his Bible-study class. In another segment, those present show quite clearly that they understand they are in danger of violating General Order Number One of the U.S. Central Command, which explicitly prohibits “proselytizing of any religion, faith, or practice.” A gathering of chaplains, all of them fed from the public trough, is addressed by Captain Emmit Furner, a military cleric who seems half in love with his own light-footed moral dexterity. “Do we know what it means to proselytize?” he asks his audience. A voice from the audience is heard to say, “It is General Order Number One.” To this Sergeant Watt replies: “You can’t proselytize but you can give gifts.… I bought a carpet and then I gave the guy a Bible after I conducted my business.” So where’s the harm in a man who is paid by the United States government to be a Christian chaplain strolling condescendingly through the souk and handing out religious propaganda as if it were a handful of small change or backsheesh? Probably not much more damaging to the war effort, or insulting to Afghan sensibilities, than the activities of the anonymous torturers who have been found operating elsewhere on the Bagram base. But it is taking the axe to the root of the United States Constitution, never mind General Order Number One. (Neither of these seems to be in force locally: no action against the uniformed missionaries has been taken.)

Vanity Fair: In Defense of Foxhole Atheists

See also Jeff Sharlet’s coverage of evangelicals in the military

Update on drone surveillance in Iraq

Some military drones are “particularly susceptible” to having their video tapped, a senior military officer tells Danger Room. That’s because these smaller unmanned aircraft — like the Shadow, Hunter, and Raven — broadcast their surveillance footage constantly and in every direction. All you have to do, basically, is stand within “line of sight” of the drone, and you can tap in. “It’s like criminals using radio scanners to pick up police communications,” the senior officer says.

Larger aircraft — both manned and unmanned — are a little less vulnerable. They can shut off their video feeds if no friendly forces are watching at the time. And they can “neck down” those omnidirectional signals a bit. So it’s more difficult to intercept the transmission. The officer contends that there have “not been any significant — not any impact — on operations as a result of this.”

Still, systems like the ROVER (and the Predator, for that matter) were “built to be cheap. They used commercial off-the-shelf hardware. We wanted to get stuff out there. So it’s not gonna be perfect,” the officer adds. “So yeah, if we’re broadcasting in the electromagnetic spectrum and you’re underneath the footprint, you can receive it. Duh-uhhhh.”

Danger Room: Not Just Drones: Militants Can Snoop on Most U.S. Warplanes

Iraq’s mobile phone revolution

Asked to name the single biggest benefit of America’s invasion, many Iraqis fail to mention freedom or democracy but instead praise the advent of mobile phones, which were banned under Saddam Hussein. Many Iraqis seem to feel more liberated by them than by the prospect of elected resident government.

In the five years since the first network started up, the number of subscribers has soared to 20m (in a population of around 27m), while the electricity supply is hardly better than in Mr Hussein’s day. That is double the rate for Lebanon, where a civil war ended two decades ago and income per head is four times higher. [...]

They also became a tool of commerce. Reluctant to risk their lives by visiting a bank, many subscribers transferred money to each other by passing on the serial numbers of scratch cards charged with credit, like gift vouchers. Recipients simply add the credit to their account or sell it on to shops that sell the numbers at a slight discount from the original. This impromptu market has turned mobile-phone credit into a quasi-currency, undermining the traditional informal hawala banking system.

Economist: Better than freedom?

(via Chris Arkenberg)

Blackwater Said to Approve Iraqi Payoffs After Shootings

Top executives at Blackwater Worldwide authorized secret payments of about $1 million to Iraqi officials that were intended to silence their criticism and buy their support after a September 2007 episode in which Blackwater security guards fatally shot 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad, according to former company officials.

Blackwater approved the cash payments in December 2007, the officials said, as protests over the deadly shootings in Nisour Square stoked long-simmering anger inside Iraq about reckless practices by the security company’s employees. American and Iraqi investigators had already concluded that the shootings were unjustified, top Iraqi officials were calling for Blackwater’s ouster from the country and company officials feared that Blackwater might be refused an operating license it would need to retain its contracts with the State Department and private clients, worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

Four former Blackwater executives said in interviews that Gary Jackson, who was then the company’s president, had approved the bribes, and the money was sent from Amman, Jordan, where Blackwater maintains an operations hub, to a top manager in Iraq. The executives, though, said they did not know whether the cash was delivered to Iraqi officials or the identities of the potential recipients.

New York Times: Blackwater Said to Approve Iraqi Payoffs After Shootings

(via Jeremy Schahill)

Judge Refuses to Dismiss War Crimes Case Against Blackwater

Jeremy Scahill writes for the Nation:

On Wednesday, a federal judge rejected a series of arguments by lawyers for the mercenary firm formerly known as Blackwater seeking to dismiss five high-stakes war crimes cases brought by Iraqi victims against both the company and its owner, Erik Prince. At the same time, Judge T.S. Ellis III sent the Iraqis’ lawyers back to the legal drawing board to amend and refile their cases, saying that the Iraqi plaintiffs need to provide more specific details on the alleged crimes before a final decision can be made on whether or not the lawsuits will proceed.

“We were very pleased with the ruling,” says Susan Burke, the lead attorney for the Iraqis. Burke, who filed the lawsuits in cooperation with the Center for Constitutional Rights, is now preparing to re-file the suits. Blackwater’s spokesperson Stacy DeLuke said, “We are confident that [the plaintiffs] will not be able to meet the high standard specified in Judge Ellis’s opinion.”

Nation: Judge Refuses to Dismiss War Crimes Case Against Blackwater

“Why do they hate us?” revisited

Glenn Greenwald:

Note, too, the vast gap between how Americans perceive of their actions (mere “aberrations”) and how so much of the rest of the world perceives of it, especially those in the targeted regions. So much of this disparity is explained by a basic lack of empathy: imagine if every American spent just a day contemplating how they’d react if some foreign army from a Muslim nation invaded and bombed the U.S., occupied the country for the next several years with 60,000 soldiers, killed tens of thousands of citizens here, set up secret prisons where they disappeared Americans for years without charges or even contact with the outside world, imposed sanctions that blockaded food and medicine and killed countless children, invaded and ransacked our homes at will, abducted Americans and shipped them halfway around the world to island-prisons, instituted a worldwide torture regime, armed their allies for attacks on other Western nations, and threatened still other invasions.

Do you think Americans might be seething with rage about that, wanting to kill as many of the people from that country as possible? Wouldn’t it be rather obvious that the more that was done to Americans, the more filled with hatred and a desire for violence they would be? Just consider the rage and fury and burning desire for vengeance that was unleashed by a one-day attack on U.S. soil, eight years ago, by a stateless band of extremists, that killed 3,000 people.

Along those lines, a new poll from The Washington Post today reveals that 42% of Americans favor bombing Iran’s “nuclear development sites” (49% of Republicans; 38% Democrats; 42% Independents), while 33% of Americans favor “invading with U.S. forces to remove the Iranian government from power” (40% Republicans; 32% Democrats; 30% Independents). Although majorities oppose that, that is a rather substantial group of Americans that favors having us bomb and invade our third Muslim country in less than ten years, not counting the places we bomb covertly or the countries bombed by our main Middle East client state. And just imagine how much that support among Americans will increase if the U.S. Government ever starts advocating it and, therefore, the U.S. media even more loudly than now beats the drums of war against Iran.

Glenn Greenwald: David Rohde on the “why do they hate us?” question

Underground railroad for homosexual Iraqis

Human Rights Watch is trying to help Iraqi homosexuals flee the country:

Long and Moumneh formulated a plan. They would build an underground railroad of sorts, reaching out to gay men in Iraq through the Internet and their existing contacts in Iraq, then advising and supporting gay Iraqis until they could ferry them to a safe city somewhere in Iraq, then to a haven elsewhere in the region, and eventually perhaps to the West.

Why?

It has never been easy being gay in Iraq. During the Saddam Hussein era, open homosexuality wasn’t technically outlawed, but it was effectively forbidden, and harassment and torture of gay people, if sporadic, were not unknown. After the American-led invasion of the country in 2003, a similar atmosphere persisted. Fadi was 12 years old during the American invasion, so he had little knowledge of what it was like to be gay under Saddam, but as far back as a year and a half ago, he was walking past his local hussainiyah (a Shia gathering place similar to a mosque) when a man at the entrance of the building called out to him. “Come in for a minute,” the man said. Fadi knew there was no point in running because they knew where he lived. He assumed the man calling him over was from the Mahdi Army. He walked to the door of the hussainiyah thinking, This is the end for me. After some ten hours of being whipped, kicked, and spit on, Fadi was told to pick himself up off the floor and get dressed. “This is a warning for you,” one of his tormentors told him. “Tell people like you what happened to you.”

As virulent as the violence against gay people (men mostly) was, it operated at a kind of low hum for many years, overshadowed by the country’s myriad other problems. But in February of this year, something changed. There was no announcement, no fatwa, no openly declared policy by a cleric or militia leader or politician, but a wave of anti-gay hysteria hit the country. An Iraqi TV station, with disapproving commentary, showed a video of a group of perhaps two dozen young men at a private dance party, wiggling their hips like female belly dancers. Terms like the third sex and puppies, a newly coined slur, began to appear in hostile news reports. Shia and Sunni clerics started to preach in their Friday sermons about the evils of homosexuality and “the people of Lot.” Police officers stepped up their harassment of openly gay men. Families and tribes cast out their gay relatives. The bodies of gay men like Mazen and Namir, often mutilated, began turning up on the street. There is no way to verify the number of tortured or harassed, but the best available estimates place that figure in the thousands. Hundreds of men are believed to have been killed.

NY Magazine: The Hunted

(via OVO)

Fine collection of 9/11 links

Trevor Blake has a fine collection of links regarding 9/11. My favorite is Verbatim Quotes from Republicans when Clinton was Prez. Examples:

“Domestic terrorism is not a cause we have to fight or a project we need to fund. We are not interested in capturing bin Laden. Even though he has been offered to us. We are not the world’s policemen. It’s not our job to clean up other countries messes or arrest it’s bad guys.” – Senator Mitch McConnell [...]

“Victory means exit strategy, and it’s important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is.” – Governor George W. Bush (R)-TX

OVO: 9/11

There are those who would say that now is not the time to look to past to place blame and point fingers. In most cases, those are the people who are to blame. Some are guilty of neglect, some are guilty of war crimes. None, to my knowledge, have been brought to justice.

See also: The Fifty Top U.S. War Criminals Who Need To Be Prosecuted

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