They have a policy of allowing the detainees at Guantanamo to pose for pictures in "holy warrior" costumes and pass them on to terrorist websites to inspire new attacks.
A Navy spokesman at Gitmo says he has no problem with that.
I'm sure a lot of us would like to know the names and ranks of the uniformed knuckleheads who helped terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed polish his propaganda image in time for his civilian trial.
Since 2003, the world's only real look at the 9/11 mass murder mastermind was the imagery that US soldiers took when they captured him. No real charismatic presence there - just a chunky, disheveled, filthy-looking slob.
Others have said that the US military planned out the ugly imagery of KSM in order to tear apart his mystique. I know we have plenty of PSYOP and information ops people who could do that if they were allowed to, but I also know that it wasn't planned. It was simply a bureaucratic process of public affairs officers releasing photos of the terrorist after his capture.
And it could have stayed that way. But some bureaucrats in the US military allowed KSM - in the supposedly tough confines of Guantanamo - to grow a long militant beard, have access to a traditional "holy warrior" costume, and pose for photos last July. The pictures were openly out of Guantanamo to the terrorist's family members and posted on pro-al Qaeda websites. The pictures are supposed to appeal to Islamist militants and show KSM as some sort of great sheik and holy warrior.
KSM's new, made-in-Guantanamo image shows him swathed in pure white, spotlessly clean, wearing a red-and-white headdress. In one pose he stares, doe-eyed, directly into the camera, a slight smirk on his face. In another he's kneeling, with prayer beads in his right hand.
The pictures restore the terrorist's propaganda image among his followers and potential followers. Which is why the pro-al Qaeda websites posted them. But it doesn't explain why the US military allows them to be created under the noses of the guards and probably at US taxpayer expense.
Clearly not everybody in the US military is on board with this "war of ideas" thing, and that some are so narrow-minded and criminally bureaucratic that they're fine with allowing one of the world's worst terrorists to un-do the ugly image of him bestowed on him by our warfighters.
MSNBC and others reported in September that terrorists were using the made-in-Gitmo photos to "inspire" attacks on the United States.
The International Committee of the Red Cross says that, based on a US military policy from last February, the Guantanamo detainees are allowed to have pictures taken of themselves and may choose which poses they would like to send their families. The ICRC says that there are no restrictions on distribution of the photos; the policy thus allows the detainees to pass the photos to terrorist supporters for propaganda purposes.
MSNBC cited a US officer at Guantanamo as saying that the US military doesn't care whether or not the policy aids enemy propaganda:
"Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brook DeWalt, a spokesman for the prison where the US holds about 225 men, said the military is not concerned with distribution of the images and takes no position on how families of prisoners handle their photos," according to MSNBC.
No wonder we're not winning the war!
Our troops live and die by how the terrorists are perceived. We don't need bureaucrats within the military to do the enemy's work.