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It's not official policy, but with Internet access a 12-year old child anywhere in the Islamic world could construct, with relative ease, a plausible conspiracy theory claiming that the United States had invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, and was wielding its military, diplomatic, and soft-power in the Middle East and elsewhere, to combat Islam and advance a global Christian empire.

That's why the continued use, per a breaking NBC story, of the infamous "jesus rifles" by U.S. troops in Afghanistan matters; it's yet another data point to plug in.

As NBC's Kari Huus reports,

When the so-called "Jesus rifle" came to light in Jan. 2010, it sparked constitutional and security concerns, and a maelstrom of media coverage. The Pentagon ordered the removal of the secret code referring to Bible passages that the manufacturer had inscribed on the scopes of the standard issue rifles carried by U.S. soldiers into battle in Iraq and Afghanistan...

...The code stamped into the metal of the soldier’s ACOG (Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight) ends with the model number with "JN8:12." which refers to the New Testament passage, John 8:12, which reads: "Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."

The gunsight, produced by the Michigan company Trijicon, can also feature code referring scripture from the Biblical books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, Corinthians, and Revelations.  

When the story first broke in 2010 General David Petraeus, then-Head of Central Command overseeing U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, declared use of the "jesus scopes" to be "contrary to U.S. Central Command guidance." The United States military must be "sensitive to the cultural and religious norms of the populace we are supporting," stated Petraeus.

But David Petraeus himself has sent mixed messages. The 2005 evangelical Christian book Under Orders: A Spiritual Handbook for Military Personnel, which claims that "Under the rubric of free speech and the twisted idea of separation of church and state, there has evolved more and more an anti-Christian bias in this country", featured a spirited endorsement from General Petraeus, whose plug appeared on the book's back cover, "Under Orders should be in every rucksack for those moments when Soldiers need spiritual energy".  

Since 2005, former Reagan Administration lawyer Mikey Weinstein's Military Religious Freedom Foundation (note: I was employed by MRFF in 2007) has been uncovering one case after another of similar abuses.

MRFF's media archives are bursting with stories documenting improper evangelizing in the U.S. military, a number of which were showcased in journalist Jeff Sharlet's gripping story Jesus killed Mohammed: The crusade for a Christian military.

Sharlet's story opens with an incident that occurred in 2004, in the Iraqi holy city of Samarra. One early evening, as the Muslim call to prayer commenced from minarets throughout the city, a Bradley Fighting Vehicle, with "Jesus killed Mohammed" spray painted in Arabic on its side, in giant red letters, rolled through Samarra as an Iraqi interpreter shouted, from the Bradley's turret through a bullhorn, over and over again, "Jesus killed Mohammed! Jesus killed Mohammed!"

As Sharlet described, the pattern extends up to the command level of the Pentagon where, in 2005, a sub-ministry of Campus Crusade For Christ called "Christian Embassy" filmed a promotional video, within the Pentagon, that included the participation of four generals, including then-Acting Secretary of the Air Force Pete Geren.

But the same year Sharlet's story appeared in Harpers, it was revealed, in stories from GQ magazine and the New York Times, that the evangelical Christian messaging went much higher.

In 2003, the cover sheets for daily briefings called "World Intelligence Update", written for then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and other top Pentagon officials, were adorned with Bible quotations.

Described in the GQ story, the April 10, 2003 cover sheet of the top secret briefing, which author Robert Draper stated had been prepared for President George W. Bush, showed Iraqi crowds, jubilant as a Baghdad statue of Saddam Hussein was pulled down, and an image of an Iraqi child kissing an American soldier. Over these images was a quote from Psalms 33:18 - "Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him…To deliver their soul from death."

Wrote Draper,

"This mixing of Crusades-like messaging with war imagery, which until now has not been revealed, had become routine. On March 31 [on the intelligence briefing cover sheet], a U.S. tank roared through the desert beneath a quote from Ephesians: “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” "
As MRFF head Mikey Weinstein told NBC, about the continued use of the "jesus rifles",
"It’s constitutionally noxious. It's an embarrassment and makes us look exactly like the tenth incarnation of the crusades which launches 8 million new jihadist recruiting videos."
MRFF's core mission is to protect the religious freedom rights of U.S. armed forces service members and in media appearances, MRFF founder and head Mikey Weinstein stresses that the vast majority of the tens of thousands of cases MRFF has taken up since the nonprofit's founding concern complaints from Christian service members who report being targeted and improperly evangelized (in violation of Department of Defense regulations) because they profess the "wrong" sort of Christian beliefs.

The 2009 science fiction book The War After Armageddon, by Ralph Peters, depicts a world in which aggressively evangelical Christian elements in the U.S. military have prevailed, and a military corps called The Military Order of the Brothers in Christ (MOBIC) spearheads a United States crusade, battling correspondingly fanatic Islamic jihadists, to reclaim the "holy lands" of the Middle East, for Jesus Christ and, along the way, kill every Muslim man, woman, and child on earth.

As researcher Chip Berlet describes, the sort of religious eliminationist mentality depicted in Peters' work of fiction was expressed in a 2010 U.S. Department of Homeland Security training held in Las Vegas, during which one participant, asked to recap the message from a speech by an evangelical Christian speaker hired by Homeland Security for the training, Walid Shoebat, summed up Shoebat's message to trainees concerning those identified as Islamic extremists: "Kill them…including the children…you heard him."

The anecdote was from an investigative report from the Boston-based nonprofit Political Research Associates, Manufacturing the Muslim Menace, by Thom Cincotta which, as Berlet describes,

"skillfully exposes how speakers like Shoebat are teaching our public servants to fear Islam and hate Muslims. Cincotta shows how private counterterrorism training groups utilize a network of biased speakers to train law enforcement at every level and in all parts of the country. The response to these trainings has been, unfortunately, quite positive."
Walid Shoebat, whose claims to be a former Islamic terrorist were debunked in a July 13, 2011 report from CNN's Anderson Cooper, was invited to speak at an anti-terrorism conference held at the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2008. Shoebat is one of several "ex-terrorist" evangelical Christians who since September 11, 2001 have been touring the U.S. to warn of an alleged foreign and domestic Muslim menace.

As the press release accompanying the 2010 report Manufacturing the Muslim Menace from Political Research Associates described, Cincotta's report,  

"reveals a common set of conspiratorial myths propagated in varying degrees by [anti-Muslim] speakers...  These narratives equate Islam with terrorism and depict a covert effort by American Muslim “stealth jihadists” to infiltrate U.S. institutions for the purpose of bringing down American infrastructure and, eventually, implementing Sharia Law."
In May 2012, Wired magazine revealed that an elective course at the United States Officer's Staff College, offered to "senior officers at the lieutenant colonel, commander, colonel and Navy captain level" and taught by Army Lt. Col. Matthew A. Dooley, instructed future U.S. military leaders that,
"a “total war” against the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims would be necessary to protect America from Islamic terrorists... Among the options considered for that conflict: using the lessons of “Hiroshima” to wipe out whole cities at once, targeting the “civilian population wherever necessary.” "
The May 2012 story came on the heels of a 2011 Wired report exposing extensive use of anti-Islam books, materials, and speakers in FBI counterterrorism training. Course materials obtained by Wired, for its May 2012 story included curriculum material from Colonel Dooley's course that stated,
  • "Some actions offered for consideration here will be seen as not "politically correct" in the eyes of many, both inside and outside the United States (Examples: Decision Points considered in PH III where Saudi Arabia threatened with starvation, Mecca and Medina destroyed. Islam reduced to cult status).
  • This model presumes Geneva Convention IV 1949 standards of armed conflict and the pursuant UN endorsements of it are now, due to the current common practices of Islamic terrorists, no longer relevant or respected globally. This would leave open the option once again of taking war to a civilian population wherever necessary (the historical precedents of Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki being applicable to the Mecca and Medina destruction DP in Phase III.
As Wired writers Noah Shachtman and Spencer Ackerman described in their May 2012 story,
"For the better part of the last decade, a small cabal of self-anointed counterterrorism experts has been working its way through the U.S. military, intelligence and law enforcement communities, trying to convince whoever it could that America’s real terrorist enemy wasn’t al-Qaida — but the Islamic faith itself. In his course, Dooley brought in these anti-Muslim demagogues as guest lecturers. And he took their argument to its final, ugly conclusion.

“We have now come to understand that there is no such thing as ‘moderate Islam,’” Dooley noted in a July 2011 presentation (.pdf), which concluded with a suggested manifesto to America’s enemies. “It is therefore time for the United States to make our true intentions clear. This barbaric ideology will no longer be tolerated. Islam must change or we will facilitate its self-destruction.”"

Colonel Dooley's elective course has since been terminated, and Dooley removed from his position at the Staff College. In a followup Wired September 21, 2012 story, concerning a threat from Dooley to sue Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey for allegedly violating Dooley's religious freedom, Shachtman and Ackerman reported additional details on Dooley's controversial course: "Materials distributed by Dooley’s guest lecturers suggested inaccurately that President Obama is a Muslim. Similar material taught to the FBI in 2011 compared Islam to the Death Star in Star Wars."


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Comment Preferences

  •  Not really a conspiracy theory (11+ / 0-)

    I am referring of course to these lines in the diary:

    but with Internet access a 12-year old child anywhere in the Islamic world could construct, with relative ease, a plausible conspiracy theory claiming that the United States had invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, and was wielding its military, diplomatic, and soft-power in the Middle East and elsewhere, to combat Islam and advance a global Christian empire.
    Bush invaded Iraq in part because of his fundamental Christian belief.

    As I said before, Bush told then French President, Chirac that:

    "This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people's enemies before a New Age begins".
    Bush told Chirac the Biblical story of Gog and Magog and believed Gog and Magog thrive in the Middle East and must be defeated:
    Bush wove a story about how the Biblical creatures Gog and Magog were at work in the Middle East and how they must be defeated.
    Through the Iraq invasion Bush was engaged in a Crusade, fighting a holy war willed by God...or so he believed.
  •  Jesus, what a country. (6+ / 0-)

    Thanks for this post.

    How did Supreme Court decision ACA help the 23 million still uncovered? Ask the 18,000 Doctors of PNHP -- they're not waiting, FORWARD now to pass H.R. 676, the “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act .

    by divineorder on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 07:24:36 PM PDT

  •  Well, it should be Christians who are offended. (10+ / 0-)
    Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
    War may be a necessary evil, but isn't writing that on a scope through which a soldier looks before he takes another man's life blasphemy?

    I've lost my faith in nihilism

    by grumpynerd on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 07:25:48 PM PDT

    •  Yes. (6+ / 0-)

      Okay, the Government says you MUST abort your child. NOW do you get it?

      by Catskill Julie on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 07:27:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  More people have been killed, tortured... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kurt, 43north, JustGiaco

      ..., maimed, and wars declared in the name of religion than any other cause in the history of the world.

      The last "justified" war in which the US participated was WWII.

      Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq/Afghanistan have been unconstitutional and unjustified and illegal wars perpetrated by the US for the sake of the corporations within the military-industrial complex and the oil and mercenary corporations.  Religion is involved to whip up the fanatic religicos among them so they can justify their egocentric justifications for war, but the corporations had record-setting profits.  Corporations know how to brainwash the uneducated types to do what they want in the name of patriotism and religion, and for a back-up, they use fear of the unknown ter'rists to push the mentally unbalanced and then stand back and condemn what they secretly wanted.

      This last one had a few new surprises with taking away our rights (without asking us!), spy on us without justification (or a warrant), and while the illegal and unconstitutional legislation has been extended under Obama, I notice no one - from the president down to the Congre$$ Critter$ - has uttered one word to indicate they might want to give us back our rights by repealing the Patriot Act, MCA '06 (and the added reinforcements of MCA '09), FISA fiasco '08 or it's extensions, or Dumbya's executive order-created 'office of faith-based initiatives' run out of the White House - perfect back door opening for religious fanatics to start the drive to institute a national religion after they first complete repealing the pro-choice legislation we fought so hard to get passed.  Just irritating secularists who want to obey the constitution as written by insisting on including religion in politics and government isn't enough any more.

      Round and round it goes, and where it stops, no one knows....

      I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

      by NonnyO on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 11:32:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  They want to incite the local populations (5+ / 0-)

    how else can they sell their wares?

    Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.

    by Horace Boothroyd III on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 07:37:13 PM PDT

  •  Who's in charge over there at the US ARMY? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troutfishing, walkshills, NonnyO, kurt


    Why is this Crusade BS STILL going on?

    Why is this DEFENSE CONTRACTOR still selling parts with forbidden secret messages stamped in the metal????????? WHY are they still supplying the Army at all????????

    Okay, the Government says you MUST abort your child. NOW do you get it?

    by Catskill Julie on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 07:45:37 PM PDT

    •  For the same reason... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ... that Halliburton and other crooked and criminal offenders within the military-industrial complex, including mercenary corporations, are still getting no-bid contracts: Citizens United declared money as free speech, and these rich corporations (all of them, including insurance, medical, and pharmaceutical industries, not to mention big banks and Wall Street) freely buy the legislation our Congre$$ Critter$ can pass which favors them.  [$COTU$ helps; one or both of the last two justices used to work in the corporate world.]


      They love money and they love power.  If the two are combined, that's orgasmic happiness!  [Think of the crashing cannon and bells at the end of the 1812 Overture....]


      I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

      by NonnyO on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 11:48:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It is not rifles, it is the rifle scope. (11+ / 0-)

    The reference to bible verses is worked into the serial numbers on the scopes.  One practically has to have a magnifying glass to see the serial number.  This is what we are actually talking about.  

    When this first came to light about two and a half years ago, the manufacturer agreed to stop putting these verse references in the rifle scope serial number.  They continue to have them in the rifle scopes they sell on the civilian market.  Here are a couple of interesting comments by Kossacks who have first-hand experience in the field.  They lay out their priorities with regard to this issue.  

    Pave Pusher (Sikorsky Thunder guy)


    As has been commented in another diary, there have been all kinds of sayings and art put on weapons by troops in the field.  I daresay the Afghans and Taliban put sayings from the Koran on some of their equipment.  

    It is way more blatant in aircraft nose art, some of which is religious and some scatological.  I remember one P-40 Warhawk fighter in particular.  It had a cartoon on the rudder.  It was a guy pissing on a Japanese flag.  I daresay some of this nose art would offend the delicate sensibilities of almost any middle eastern leader or soldier.  

    The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

    by Otteray Scribe on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 07:51:22 PM PDT

  •  M5:39 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I wonder why the manufacturer of the scope didn't pick a verse which is has Jesus making more relevant comments pertaining to Matthew 5:39? Oh, that's right, probably because if people took it to heart it would hurt sales.

    Imagine that. Tagging up instruments used to defend the Kingdom of the World with quotes from the Prince of the Kingdom of God.

  •  And some call Jesus, "Prince of Peace." n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NonnyO, kurt
    •  That PR and advertising schtick... (0+ / 0-)

      ... only works between Thanksgiving and Xmas when corporate retailers are seeking to make a fortune in holiday sales.  [Or, more recently, between Halloween and Xmas.]

      Hafta get the feel-good endorphins running through everyone's veins to sell Baybee Jeezus as the reason for buying gifts, maxing out credit cards ... Awwwww... Isn't that sweet!  Rose-tinted glasses coming right up...!

      It always AMAZES me that the lines "save more money" for sales works.  How is one supposed to "save" when one is spending money?  That's how to empty out one's checking account.  Retailers inflate the "value" of an item, then mark it down on "sale," but they still make record-setting profits virtually every year.

      Geeee, wonder why...?  Hmmmmm....

      I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

      by NonnyO on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 12:00:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Tipped, Rec'd, and Hotlisted (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JustGiaco, Sue B

    As usual, with any info about the fanatically religious reichwingnuts, I look at this all askance, with horror, that there really are people THIS insane in the world..., which others actually take seriously!

    Thank you for wading through the dreck of their delusions so you may share the info with us in a cogent and sane manner.  I appreciate it.

    [I freely admit, I wouldn't be able to do the same without going off on a book-length rant that would devolve into incoherence, and then end up either stroking out or having a heart attack, or both.  I'm having a hard enough time with other issues no one is talking about in favor of 'oh, don't mention those things; we have an election to get through.'  Willful stupidity is about to drive me mad.]

    I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

    by NonnyO on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 11:10:42 PM PDT

  •  What's worse to a Muslim? (3+ / 0-)

    An Atheist bombing your village, or Christians bombing your village?  What if Jews bomb your village?  The Christians and Jews are "of the book" and "also children of Ibrahim".

    If the pilot or his government is Shia, and the village is Sunni?
    Iran bombed Iraq.

    If the pilot or his government is Wahhabi and the village is "apostate" Sunni or Shia, does it matter - as MY Imam said they are "an abomination to The Prophet" (followed by the requisite bbhn)?

    Or is the real issue, someone's bombing my village, and I give fuck-all for the reason.  NOW I want to kill someone.

  •  Nonny O alone commented on this? (3+ / 0-)
    The above quote is from what one official involved in homeland security said was how she understood the underlying theme of a speech by Walid Shoebat at an anti-terrorism training in Las Vegas in October 2010. Our investigator had turned around after Shoebat’s speech and asked the woman seated one row back what she thought was the solution offered by Shoebat.

    “Kill them…including the children…you heard him,” was the full response.

    It's time to seriously re-think the Department of Homeland Security, the contractors who work without Congressional oversight, and the serious Constitutional abuses endured in the name of "safety and security".

    In August of 2001, we "needed" a few simple things to prevent  the 9-11 attacks:

    1) Someone at the FBI HQ to read, and do more than file a field report regarding Arab-nationals acting oddly at Flight Schools under:
    "Huh... yeah, that's odd - but they're Arabs, and they do stupid shit all the time."

    2) A desire to uncover plots and/or criminal acts that may not have an immediate beneficial result to your career arc.
    "Focus on the job in front of you, Junior Agent... I'm not spending my career in some Mid-Worst cow-town."

    3) Common-fucking-sense.  Both at-home and internationally.  That's both operational and philosophical.

    a) Don't send an evangelical Christian on a foreign service mission to a non-Christian country - if'n you're certain he starts every meeting with a "call to Christ":

    "JESUS, help me lead these people to you.  GUIDE my hand this day O Lord.  GLORIFY your HOLY NAME, so that ALL these unbelievers may come to you o' my CHRIST AND SAVIOR."

    Yeah... THAT'll go over well.  Be it in China, or Chad.

    b) Let's NOT send soldiers or contractors out to burn ANY religious books.  Pack them up, and put them on an outbound flight if you have to... if they're such a threat to operational security.  Otherwise, put them in a footlocker or ten, and call it an anti-shrapnel berm.

  •  I can't help but wonder.... (5+ / 0-)

    ...if the manufactured poutrage-du-jour would be as hearty, or as endorsed by otherwise intelligent people, if the scope manufacturers had used Celtic, American Indian, Hindu, Zulu, Norse or Greek warrior/religious symbols or references.

    Considering that the Greeks repeatedly broke the Persians, and how far Alexander got in his conquests... hmmm...  I have an idea for my next deployment.  

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