Thank you, Michael Isikoff. Because of Newsweek's commode Quran story -- the one that went down the drain in a retraction -- a previously undisclosed threat to our very existence has been revealed. It may be too late to avert, but before admitting defeat, I just wish every American would take a good long moment to reflect, not on the hysterical headlines trumpeting "Quran abuse," but rather on the U.S. Army's Quranic Code of Conduct in place at Guantanamo Bay.
The orders aren't called that, of course, but that's as apt a title as any for the relevant sections of the officially titled "Detention Operations Group Standard Operating Procedures" that go for Gitmo. And, it bears repeating, every American should take a good long moment to reflect on what they mean.
Since all of Guantanamo's inmates happen to be members of the same famed band of Muslim extremists, the Army has seen fit to distribute Qurans. So far, so good, I guess. But the Army doesn't just distribute its Qurans like any other religious book. That is, the Bible may get passed around, riffled through, dropped, tossed and stuffed into hotel room drawers. But not the Quran. According to United States Army policy, the standard operating procedure is: "Handle the Quran as if it were a fragile piece of delicate art."
What's going on here? By official order, a whole lot of "respecting the dignity of the Quran." According to Section 6-5-c(3), should a Quran need to be removed from a detainee's cell -- you know, carried somewhere -- and the detainee is personally unable to move it (best option), and the Muslim chaplain, librarian and interpreter are also unable to move it (second-best option), then the U.S. Army guard, as a very last resort, may take action.
Then the insanity really begins. The guard is directed to don "clean gloves ... in full view of the detainees prior to handling." He must use "two hands ... at all times when handling the Quran in manner signaling respect and reverence." Why "respect" alone isn't abundantly sufficient isn't mentioned. While signaling two-handed respect and reverence, however, the guard must be mindful that "care should be used so that the right hand is the primary one used to manipulate any part of the Quran due to the cultural association with the left hand."
It goes on. There's more "reverent manner," more instructions for conveying the book inside a "clean, dry detainee towel." The cockeyed picture is clear. But it doesn't explain what's going on.
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