American style magazine GQ, has pulled off a great scoop. It has published the covers of the extremely Top Secret Briefing papers issued by the Pentagon not long after the Iraq invasion. The papers known as the “Worldwide Intelligence Update” were so secret they were (according to the magazine) “circulated among only a handful of Pentagon leaders and the president; Rumsfeld himself often delivered it, by hand, to the White House”.
Now the crucial thing is the covers of these papers. They were not just your standard brief, they had photos on the front to set the mood, as it were. The article states:
These cover sheets were the brainchild of Major General Glen Shaffer, a director for intelligence serving both the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the secretary of Defense. In the days before the Iraq war, Shaffer’s staff had created humorous covers in an attempt to alleviate the stress of preparing for battle.
Just think about that for a minute – humorous covers on the most secretive papers dealing with the most serious of issues… Think about how scary that sounds? That these guys needed a cartoon to make sure they didn’t get too stressed about the idea of sending people to die in a war?
Don’t worry, if that thought scares you, it gets worse:
Then, as the body counting began, Shaffer, a Christian, deemed biblical passages more suitable.
Yep in his briefings for the War against Iraq, Bush was getting them with a nice Biblical passage on the front to make the whole thing seem all the more nice, all the more right.
Not bad for a nation that believes in the separation of Church and State. Not bad for a nation that is supposedly fighting against religious extremists. Not bad for a nation that keeps telling the Islamic world it is not fighting against Islam. Not bad for a nation that has a plentiful number of non-Christians fighting in its own army unaware their Commander in Chief thought they were doing the Lord’s work.
So did anyone question doing this? Well yes:
Several others in the Pentagon disagreed. At least one Muslim analyst in the building had been greatly offended; others privately worried that if these covers were leaked during a war conducted in an Islamic nation, the fallout—as one Pentagon staffer would later say—“would be as bad as Abu Ghraib.”
Did this cut any ice? Err no:
But the Pentagon’s top officials were apparently unconcerned about the effect such a disclosure might have on the conduct of the war or on Bush’s public standing. When colleagues complained to Shaffer that including a religious message with an intelligence briefing seemed inappropriate, Shaffer politely informed them that the practice would continue, because “my seniors”—JCS chairman Richard Myers, Rumsfeld, and the commander in chief himself—appreciated the cover pages.
If you click on the link, you will see the most disturbing imaginable. Photos of aircraft carriers above a passage from Psalms; a picture of a tank with a passage from Ephesians; this passage from Proverbs: “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed”, over the top of a photo of a GI with a machine gun. They look like covers some from the tracts of sick extremist groups who go around stockpiling weapons and preparing to blow themselves up in a mass suicide ritual.
It is obvious from the covers that Bush and his cohorts viewed the Iraq War as a religious crusade. They were out to convert the world to Christianity.
It is also obvious from the covers that they were the biggest bunch of fools ever to be the world’s misfortune to find themselves congregated in the White House.
As a Christian, these covers make me want to vomit. Bush and Rumsfeld were as dumb and ignorant as those religious cultists who deny medical care to their sick children because “the Lord never needed antibiotics”, or those nutjobs who try and cross the Nullarbor without food or water because “the Lord will provide all we need”. Christianity has nothing to do with those people. And let me tell you, it has nothing to do with what Bush and Rumsfeld were doing.
The difference between Bush and Co and the religious nutters though is those lunatics don’t get to run the biggest nation on earth. They don’t get to send people off to die.
One of my favourite quotes from Shakespeare is from The Merchant of Venice:
The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
An evil soul, producing holy witness,
Is like a villain with a smiling cheek,
A goodly apple rotten at the heart
O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!
Shakespeare certainly knew what he was talking about…
Reader Tomkidd gave me a nice heads up about a NY Times article on the same story. It takes a more balanced tone than I did (as it should).
It featured this response by a former Rumsfeld aide:
“Lawrence Di Rita, the Pentagon spokesman during Mr. Rumsfeld’s time as secretary of defense, said that he had no recollection of the biblical briefs, but that he doubted the famously acerbic and sometimes cranky secretary would have tolerated them for long, much less shared them with Mr. Bush.
“The suggestion that Rumsfeld would have used these reports to somehow curry favor over at the White House is pretty laughable,” Mr. Di Rita said. “He bristled anytime people put quotes or something extraneous on the reports he wanted to read.”
Now my take on the original story wasn't that Rumsfeld was doing it to curry favour, but more that Bush (and Rumsfeld) liked them.
I also love that the spokesperson suggests Rumsfeld wouldn't have tolerated them for long - because he bristled anytime people put "something extraneous" on reports. No worries though about the gross inappropriateness of using Biblical passages on a Defence document, or having photos of soldiers overlaid with quotes about the righteousness of their actions, just that they would be extraneous.
I stand by my title.