Tuesday, March 2, 2010

"National Interest" reports on changing the hearts of would-be martyrs; "Mother Jones" on "Oath Keepers"

The other day, as I browsed the racks of a Barnes and Noble near the Landmark Theater in downtown Washington DC, a couple of issues caught my eye, and at least psychologically they are rather related. Yes, I did buy hardcopies (no 5-cent bag, please).

One of them was the black, blue and tan cover of “The National Interest” (March/April 2010) with a long article (p. 10) by Matthew Alexander, whose title, “Martyrdom, Interrupted” is kinder and gentler than the magazine cover suggests (link here) The article covers an Indonesian military intelligence group called Detachment 88, headed by Colonel Tito Karnavian, which now has an effective to win over the minds of “jihadists” that it captures, partly by appealing to the religious meaning of the concept. The group even arranges conjugal visits or find wives for prisoners. This sounds like something, not exactly the printing of pie charts with Harvard Graphics, that Jake Gyllenhaal’s character in “Extreme Rendition” would like. It catches my eye, too, because in late 2002 I received a bizarre and detailed (perhaps steganographic) email about a bar (and connected “house of ill repute) in Indonesia for no reason. I passed it on to the Minneapolis FBI. A few days later, some perpetrators of the Bali incident earlier that year were arrested by Indonesian police. But I have no idea how the FBI handles tips from webmasters.

The April 2010 issue of "Mother Jones" contains a Special Report on Human Rights overseas, but you have to look at the TOC to see that. The cover reads “Age of Treason” with a special investigation “inside the movement that recruits cops and military personnel to resist their government”. The article, by Justine Sharrock, on p 28, covers the Oath Keepers, and says “Glenn Beck loves them; Tea Partiers court them…” The goonie crowd imagines an Obama administration ready to impose martial law and ban interstate travel (let alone international travel) on a whim. Back in the late 1970s, we used to imagine a Carter administration sending out energy police into homes (thirty years before the talk of tracking individual carbon footprints). The link is here.

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