So It Was A Crusade After All

This is really disturbing. During the days surrounding the invasion of Iraq, the daily Top Secret intelligence briefings provided by the Pentagon to the President were introduced with cover sheets that featured biblical verses. Displaying images of our military might (e.g. a lone tank in sunset, a group of soldiers huddled in prayer, dusty desert roads), former President Bush drew further inspiration of his righteous cause from quotes like:
Seek the Lord and His Strength; seek His face continually. - 1 Chron 16:11
Their arrows are sharp, all their bows are strung; their horses' hoofs seem like flint, their chariot wheels are like a whirlwind. Isaiah 5:28
GQ has the whole story on this, complete with images of the briefing cover sheets.
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. Then, as the body counting began, Shaffer, a Christian, deemed the biblical passages more suitable. 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.”
As I said, this is disturbing but not really surprising. The Bush administration reasons for going to war with Iraq are (and were) far less convincing than the backstory of selling an unnecessary war to the public. The only thing that has not been fully revealed is the true motivation for the war. We can speculate all we want, but without hard evidence, history instead will record that the intelligence agencies were buffoons and provided misleading information.

Think Progress and TPM introduced me to this story, headlining former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as the putative culprit. For my money, the person who should have put an end to this was President Bush himself. But then, he never was one for maintaining that separation of church and state.


Cleanser said...

Everybody knows at least one person in the office who always puts Bible verses in their email signature (frequently in bold, cursive font, often in neon colors). The idea that at least one, and presumably many, government officials decided it was a good idea to put such sentiments on a "worldwide intelligence update" is mind-boggling. Even if you ignore (which you shouldn't) the inappropriate meshing of church and state -- it's just tacky.I do appreciate the irony, though, of selecting "Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed" -- obviously writing verses on your plans isn't committed enough, 'cause things sure didn't succeed.

The skepTick said...

Great comment. Ultimately, I think they really believe they succeeded. They just left the cleanup work to the new guy.