“The Battlefield of the Mind”

note: updated to correct an initial formatting error that left out a chunk of the quoted text as well as some of my commentary.

Walter Pincus has what is, IMHO, the ‘WTF?!’ story of the day:

The U.S. military has introduced “religious enlightenment” and other education programs for Iraqi detainees, some of whom are as young as 11, Marine Maj. Gen. Douglas M. Stone, the commander of U.S. detention facilities in Iraq, said yesterday.

Stone said such efforts, aimed mainly at Iraqis who have been held for more than a year, are intended to “bend them back to our will” and are part of waging war in what he called “the battlefield of the mind.” Most of the younger detainees are held in a facility that the military calls the “House of Wisdom.”

Maybe I’ve dusted off ye olde tinfoil hat, or am reading too much into what could just be the rhetorical flourishes of a media neophyte, but “bend them back to our will”? “House of Wisdom”? Stone sounds less like a US military official than an acolyte of Dear Leader. But wait – it gets better:

The religious courses are led by Muslim clerics who “teach out of a moderate doctrine,” Stone said, according to the transcript of a conference call he held from Baghdad with a group of defense bloggers. Such schooling “tears apart” the arguments of al-Qaeda, such as “Let’s kill innocents,” and helps to “bring some of the edge off” the detainees, he said.

As a result of the increased U.S. troop presence in Iraq this year, the number of Iraqis in U.S. detention has swelled from about 10,000 last year to more than 25,000.


Stone said he wants to identify “irreconcilables” — those detainees whose views cannot be moderated — and “put them away” in permanent detention facilities. Psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors and interrogators help distinguish the extremists from others, he said.
After reassessments and interrogations, Stone said, some detainees are recommended for release. “If a detainee is an imperative security risk . . . then I’m going to reduce that risk and I’m going to replace that destructive ideology,” he said. “And then when he’s assessed to no longer be a threat, I’m going to release the detainee being less likely to be a recidivist.”

Since May, Stone said, he has released about 2,000 detainees “and we’ve not had any coming back.” He said his goal is to keep those who are released from harming U.S. troops or anyone else. “They’re not going out of here unless I can feel comfortable about that,” Stone added. “I’m not doing mass releases.”

The Post further notes that, of the 25,000 (25,000) Iraqis currently detained by the US, 820 are children, “most of whom are [being] held in the House of Wisdom”. I’m with Scout Prime: this strikes me as reprogramming. I also share Scout’s surprise at how impolitic Stone was during his conference call with milbloggers, almost like he forgot that he was participating in an on-the-record discussion meant for publication.

Ironically, Stone is further developing his program by creating “a “transition-out barracks” where detainees being released discuss civics and human rights.” Perhaps he can also organize a detainee book club. For the first selection, I suggest A Clockwork Orange.

Related: Dan Froomkin details another recent love-in conference call involving sycophantic sympathetic bloggers–and the POTUS. Cream, meet jeans.

7 Responses to ““The Battlefield of the Mind””

  1. mick says:

    Jesus. Re-education camps. The best you can say of this nonsense is at least they’re not fundamentalist Xtian indoctrination camps.

  2. House of Wisdom? Dude, this is just freaky. Like, I imagine these kids coming out of this education camp all in nice prim clothes and smiling eerily.

    Eyeballs shooting lasers might be involved.


  4. Macswain says:


    You forgot to post this telling nugget from Pincus’ story:

    Stone described a sort of religious insurgency that occurred at one detention facility on Sept. 2. “We had a compound of moderates for the first time overtake . . . extremists. It’s never happened before. Found them, identified them, threw them up against the fence and shaved their frickin’ beards off of them. . . . I mean, that is historic.”

    Stone seems to think this great fun. The dude’s seriously twisted; living the sadist’s dream, I suppose. Also, how dumb do you have to be to say this publicly.

  5. matttbastard says:

    I highly recommend that everyone who hasn’t already please follow the trackback to Mick’s take on Pincus’ article. Mick accurately pegs the Maoist connotations of Stone’s creepy endeavours.

    (And now I’m off to listen to ol’ Ludwig Van. Peace out, homies.)

  6. Dynamic says:


    Or rather, in light of the last 7 years, all too believable.


  1. US General Uses Maoist Playbook, Creates Re-Education Camps in Iraq « Mick Arran - [...] Field (where I’ve been posting this week, thus my absence from here) points to what he calls “the ‘WTF?!’…

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