Wednesday, August 22, 2007

No Guns, No Bombs

By Kathy Kelly

(965 words)

Amman, Jordan

On August 14, 2007, CNN reported about an unusual school for teenagers, run by the U.S. Army in Iraq, calling it a “jailhouse school.”

Here is the transcript from CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr’s interview with First Lieutenant Rob Glenn:

“These are the latest U.S. weapons against the insurgency -- textbooks, classrooms and soccer fields. This video, provided by the military, shows where the U.S. is now holding daily classes for hundreds of Iraqi teenagers it has imprisoned for being a security risk.

1ST LT. ROB GLENN, U.S. ARMY: Juveniles in custody right now are nearly 800. That's 800 lives that we have an opportunity to impact.

STARR: That's a sharp increase from the 272 juveniles -- all boys aged 11 to 17 -- detained back in February, when the surge started.

U.S. commanders say as a result of the surge, insurgents have stepped up recruiting children to lay IEDs and act as lookouts for snipers, believing the U.S. troops will be reluctant to shoot them. The U.S. has one goal for the jailhouse school.

GLENN: We ensure that when they are released that they don't -- they pick up a book instead of an AK-47 or laying an IED. And that's what this really gets back to.”

The report didn’t mention what methods Lieutenant Glenn uses to reach the school’s “one goal.” Certainly, we must ask whether the children’s parents are allowed to visit them, and how long they’ll be detained, and whether or not their legal rights are addressed. What message is being taught to these students by imprisoning them?

But, Lieutenant Glenn’s “one goal,” to ensure that students pick up a book instead of an AK 47, that they choose books not bombs, merits special attention.

I wish this goal would be adopted by every military school and junior ROTC training facility in the United States.

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Kathy Kelly ( is a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence (

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