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Hugh Hewitt - Principal Contributor

Mr. Hewitt is senior member of the editorial board. [go to Hewitt index]

Thinking Iike An Islamist Propagandist
A senator's guide to understanding how grandstanding kills Americans

[Hugh Hewitt] 5/12/04

It has become apparent over the past few months that a high number of United States senators either do not understand how their words can be used against American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, or do not care that those words might be so used.

On the assumption that elected officials are not indifferent to the lives of the young men and women serving in uniform, let's try to think like an Islamist extremist, trying hard to encourage one or more of his younger charges to either participate in an attack against a heavily armored American position or to even become a suicide bomber.

A small number of rogue soldiers have handed you a tremendous propaganda gift in the photos of the abuse of Iraqi captives, especially those showing the humiliation of men by women.

But the American president has done a wise thing, appearing on Arab television and with the King of Jordan to denounce this outrage in the harshest terms. In fact, he may have even come close to turning the tide in some places by contrasting the American response to the abuse with the silence that shrouds far worse horrors in even the "moderate" Arab states. A clever man, Bush, though perhaps you suspect it is not cleverness but deep integrity that motivates the American president's condemnation.

Then Rumsfeld allows himself to be publicly hounded by partisan opponents, another stroke of genius in telegraphing to the Arab world what real democracy looks like. Again you sense the tide may have already turned on this issue, though of course who knows, but that the next batch of photos may allow you to fan the flames of hate for a brief time. But you despair that even the street is getting the picture that this is the very rare exception to the rule of American integrity.

But then you thank heaven for Sen. Carl Levin – the senior Democrat on the Armed Services Committee who allows himself to speak on television, and your videotape machine captures it via the miracle of satellite television. What does this senior American political official confess to? Roll the tape for your young jihadists:

This is not just a few guards in some kind of aberrant conduct. This is a much more systemic problem here. And military intelligence, including I have to believe the CIA have got to be held accountable, right up the chain.

Play it a few more times. In fact, send a copy to the Arab networks in case they missed it, and then distribute it to the imams teaching the young. Play the Levin quote again and again. Assure that would be jihadists around the globe have many chances to hear an admission of guilt for the "systemic" torture and murder of innocent Muslims around the world at the hands of the CIA, for that is what a senior U.S. senator said. We have the proof. The prisoner scandal is not a story of a handful of criminals in uniform, it is the story of the entire American enterprise – Sen. Carl Levin said so!

This is just one example of many from the past week, month and indeed year as partisan ambition has poisoned the minds of Democrats in the Senate. I can only imagine what the parents of servicemen from Michigan must think of their senior senator's smear of their sons and daughters, but give Carl Levin the credit he routinely takes for himself of being wise in the way of the military and nuanced in his thinking. He meant what he said, correct? He wouldn't lie and endanger Americans just for temporary political advantage, would he?

Carl Levin has not a shred of evidence that the prisoner abuse is evidence of systemic prisoner abuse. The accusation is slander of the worst sort, as shameful as Minnesota Democratic Sen. Mark Dayton's public descent into incoherence on Friday when he slandered Gen. Myers with the charge of "suppression" of the abuse story, and then rambled off into a bizarre rant about sending more tanks to Iraq, which would only engender more violence.

The Democratic Party has lost its way, saying the most outrageous things in hopes of scoring points, and doing so in a way that makes the charges ready-made propaganda for our enemies – propaganda of the deadliest sort. If they have a shred of decency left, they will stop before they do more harm. Levin and Dayton cannot recall their harmful statements which will shame their careers forever, but at least they can stop adding more tape to the arsenal of poison already in the hands of our terrorist enemies. CRO

§ Principal Contributor Hugh Hewitt is an author, television commentator and syndicated talk-show host of the Salem Radio Network's Hugh Hewitt Show, heard in over 40 markets around the country. He blogs regularly at and he frequently contributes opinion pieces to the Weekly Standard.

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