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Where is the greater madness: Khobar, Saudi Arabia, or Washington D.C.


Over a period of two days I was driven to wonder where was the greater madness, marveling at the contrasting legal and cultural models that gave rise to such disparate views, and thinking of the gulf to bridge when each considers themselves sane and the other mad:

(1) A Saudi cleric's fatwa delivered not at an obscure mosque but to the web decreed "that the dead can be mutilated as a reciprocal act when the [Infidel] enemy is disfiguring Muslim corpses, or when it otherwise serves the Islamic nation. In the second category, the reasons include "to terrorize the enemy" or to gladden the heart of a Muslim warrior.

(2) A Justice department classified report on interrogation methods rising from the inability to produce sufficient results from conventional methods described "a range of legal issues related to interrogations, offering definitions of the degree of pain or psychological manipulation that could be considered lawful," but resolved that normal strictures on torture might not apply "because nothing is more important than "obtaining intelligence vital to the protection of untold thousands of American citizens""

It is a symbol of the two cultures that the former was delivered to the widest audience while the latter was delivered to the narrowest. The jury is still out on the Saudi's response to the fatwa as they know that the House of Saud is the ultimate target. Similarly, the jury is still out on the formal, public US response to this view of the observing of the Geneva Conventions.

I suggest that one read both (and I also cite the Post if the Journal is not at hand) and try to think of the larger system at play here as well as the secondary effects to all parties in continuing on their current paths. Mind you, I tend to favor the Israeli model in which we formally deny and selectively employ over a blanket rejection that puts dangerous tools into the hands of the unsupervised and unskilled while opening our already low global image to further predation and our troops to further peril.

The Saudis Fight Terror, but Not Those Who Wage It
New York Times
June 6, 2004

Pentagon Report Set Framework For Use of Torture
Security or Legal Factors Could Trump Restrictions, Memo to Rumsfeld Argued
June 7, 2004; Page A1

Memo Offered Justification for Use of Torture
Justice Dept. Gave Advice in 2002
By Dana Priest and R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, June 8, 2004; Page A01

Gordon Housworth

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