Bad Move

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In his new book about his experience as a military translator at Guantanamo, Inside the Wire, Erik Saar writes,

My time in Cairo taught me that in the Middle East, for some people, the Crusades might have happened a short ten years ago. The Islamic radicals wanted to see the conflict with Israel and the West as a religious war. In its reaction to 9/11, I hoped the United States wouldn’t give them any fodder. We couldn’t let them turn the war on terror into a clash of civilizations.

Alas, there is fodder, plenty of it. Reports recently emerged noting that interrogators in Guantanamo were flushing Korans down toilets to break down prisoners, and in response, riots have been breaking out in Afghanistan.

Most disconcertingly, two United Nations guest houses and two international aid offices were targeted in the riots, which has resulted in the UN withdrawing everyone save for it’s “essential” staff from Afghanistan. According to some eye-witnesses, the protestors were shouting, “Death to America” as well as anti-Bush and anti-Karzai slogans. A State Department spokesman responded, “Obviously the destruction of any kind of holy book…is something reprehensible and not in keeping with U.S. policies and practices.” But it’s not “obvious” that the United States actually considers this reprehensible. And it looks as though it is a practice. The Newsweek report noted that interrogators placed Korans on the toilet as a tactic to “rattle” detainees.

This, to put it mildly, sucks. The tense atmosphere has made crucial aid work in Afghanistan that much more difficult. Not to mention that this kind of thing just further endangers American soldiers. And it has put Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai in a position to look bad if he continues to cooperate with the U.S. The allegations also have Pakistan’s government up in arms. These two countries are crucial U.S. allies in the war on terror. It would behoove the State Department to issue a formal apology for this affair, and a pledge to thoroughly investigate the tactics being used in Guantanamo. We’re never going to win the war on terror if we look like we’re fighting a war on Islam.

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REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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