A new weapon in the war on terrorism
March 11, 2003 4:21 PM   Subscribe

Is the Pentagon using the Bible Code to hunt for Osama bin Laden? According to the book's author, Michael Drosnin, both America and Israel are doing just that. According to columnist Bill Keller's Pentagon source, however, Drosnin was interviewed for only an hour and dismissed. But the question remains - how did a nut like Drosnin manage to bend the ears of top DoD brass? MoJo-ers, care to take a whack at this one? [links via Tom Tomorrow; more inside]
posted by UKnowForKids (24 comments total)
how I miss mrs Reagan and her harmless, sweetly superstitious astrology fetish

the First Lady regularly dictated the president's schedule after consulting her personal astrologer. Regan never claimed that astrology influenced executive decisions, but the ensuing frenzy raised questions about who exactly was in control at The White House. In "My Turn," Nancy attributed her reliance on astrology to her fear that her husband would be shot again.
posted by matteo at 4:24 PM on March 11, 2003

i actually *just* heard this half an hour or so ago on WABC 770 in NYC. It was very interesting, as the one host poo-poohed it, and the other said "then do you think police should use psychics to solve crimes?"...

Fascinating stuff. I would love to know what the old testament has to say about bin laden and company. by the way, where's mullah omar? is that in the new testament?
posted by djspicerack at 4:26 PM on March 11, 2003

Seriously, the Pentagon official quoted by Keller seems to be trying to disassociate the government from Drosnin, but surely they have the resources to look the guy's name up on Amazon. They didn't understand "that he was promoting biblical prophecy"? He wrote the fucking Bible Code. Was this an intelligence failure? Or a simple failure of intelligence? Or is this guy actually being taken seriously?
posted by UKnowForKids at 4:28 PM on March 11, 2003

Look, anything is possible in a country whose Attorney General is convinced that calico cats are possessed of the devil.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:45 PM on March 11, 2003

Sometimes some pretty flakey people can give you insight to other flakey people.
The classic example was David Koresh. Part of the Justice Department's decision to go in was based on their interpretation of Koresh claiming to be the Messiah. This is splitting hairs, but Koresh was only claiming to be a messiah -- claiming to be a John the Baptist instead of Jesus Christ. Doing Monday morning quarterbacking, it looks like they should have paid attention to some of the Wackos saying that.
Maybe the Department of Defense is looking for any leads it can to find Osama Bin Laden.
As Leonard Smalls (Randall "Tex" Cobb") said in "Raising Arizona," "You want to find an outlaw, hire an outlaw. You want to find a Dunkin' Donuts, call a cop. "
posted by stevefromsparks at 4:45 PM on March 11, 2003

Next thing you know, people will be finding codes in the last John Updike book. It's about the same thing, except the John Updike book isn't the most violent book ever to exist.
posted by benjh at 5:09 PM on March 11, 2003

Actually, that would probably be "American Psycho". Fuckin' Bret Easton Ellis, I hate that fucker! :@
posted by hincandenza at 5:18 PM on March 11, 2003

> how did a nut like Drosnin manage to bend the ears of top DoD brass?

You're kidding right? The President is a uber-nut born again who is at ease with Xtian fundamentalists, denies evolution, and is going to sign another anti-abortion bill into law. The GOP is the party which gives voice to the nutiest fundies in the world.


I'll be surprised when my suspicion that most of Bush's policy is finally revealed to be a Judeo-Christian eschatological self-fulfilling prophesy/conspiracy.

Let us pray.
posted by skallas at 5:40 PM on March 11, 2003

But the question remains - how did a nut like Drosnin manage to bend the ears of top DoD brass?

Hard to tell - probably the same way Jean Houston got herself invited to the White House to "channel" the spirit of Eleanor Roosevelt for Hillary.
posted by MidasMulligan at 6:11 PM on March 11, 2003

Nancy Reagon, Hillary Clinton. What do these two people have in common? When they were being nutty, they had no formal positions in the government, other than "wife of the yutz in charge." But we are talking about government employees, military people, trained, listening to crackpot theories of a code in the holy bible.

And if you use one version of the bible instead of another, do you get a diferent code? Does it use the old testament, or the new, or both? And if both, does that mean Jewish followers only get half the code, and Christians get the whole thing, or does it mean Jewish followers get a different answer? And then you have that whole pesky "literal or metaphorical" debate which could change the code again.

The whole thing sounds like picking lotto numbers.
posted by benjh at 6:18 PM on March 11, 2003

Why dont we just start the rumor that Bush is the Anti-christ and they all missed the earlier parts of the rapture when they were sleeping. They are not the ones lifted up but the unbelievers... wait for it ... "Left Behind" Tee Hee !!! i am sure you can find the code for B-U-S-H somewhere in all of the bible texts. Its at the back somewhere i am sure.
posted by stuartmm at 6:27 PM on March 11, 2003

Whenever I need a dose of prophecy, I head right to Melville: Assassinations Foretold in Moby Dick.
posted by gwint at 6:52 PM on March 11, 2003

skallas, I realize that you're just spraying invective into this thread to get a rise out of someone, but using silly, agenda-laden neologisms like "Xtian" drags the level of discourse in Metafilter down to that of an AOL chat room. The word is "Christian." You won't go blind from looking at it.

Mocking other peoples' religious beliefs never helps, never improves a situation, never enlightens anyone. All it does is increase the level of bitterness and anger in an already bitter and angry world.

There are millions of Christians who accept evolution as fact, who aren't radical conservatives, and who don't think you're going to hell if you believe something different than them. Please find another group to be prejudiced against.
posted by vraxoin at 7:15 PM on March 11, 2003

vraxoin: read the post. I'm writing about Bush. He simply isn't one of the Xtians you describe. How you went from Bush to "millions of Christians" is your problem.

Also Xtian is valid shorthand of Christianity. Based on the greek letter X which stands for Christ and is the first letter in the greek word, (phoentically now) hresto. Don't they teach this stuff in sunday school anymore?

First link on a google search produces:
Xmas [n. KRIS-mus / EKS-mus]
This abbreviation for the word Christmas is often viewed as a modern commercial shorthand, but has actually been in use for hundreds of years in religious writing. Xmas makes use of an old abbreviation for Christ. His name in Greek begins with the letter chi, which looks like an X, and his name has long been abbreviated as X. Using the same shorthand, the word Xmas was recorded in print as early as 1555. What is the correct way to say the word? The similar abbreviation Xtian (for Christian) is pronounced [KRIS-chun], so Xmas should correctly be pronounced [KRIS-mus]. But today, X is more readily seen as a detached letter, or as a mathematical term, so most people pronounce Xmas [EKS-mus].
posted by skallas at 7:29 PM on March 11, 2003

Next thing you know, people will be finding codes in the last John Updike book. It's about the same thing, except the John Updike book isn't the most violent book ever to exist.

I encountered a classmate (Comp. Eng. Tech) who believed in the Bible Code and the predictions of Nostradumbass and wouldn't listen to me when I tried to explain to him that it was a bunch of bunk.

So I did some web research and I found out that the analytical techniques used in the Bible Code have also been used to show that Moby Dick predicted every major assissination in the current century. [more info] So the only reason there haven't been codes found in John Updike is probably that nobody has bothered. Maybe somebody could do some mefi code analysis and get Matt invited to the pentagon?

Alas, my attempt to dissuade was met with skepticism that would have been better applied to the initial beliefs. Moby Dick probably predicted that too.
posted by srboisvert at 8:02 PM on March 11, 2003

If this is the way we're hunting terrorists, then the terrorists have already won (and I mean it sincerely).
posted by wendell at 9:18 PM on March 11, 2003

Hard to tell - probably the same way Jean Houston got herself invited to the White House to "channel" the spirit of Eleanor Roosevelt for Hillary.

No lie too stale for pathological Clinton hater MidasMulligan to repeat...
posted by y2karl at 1:01 AM on March 12, 2003

There are millions of Christians who accept evolution as fact

Then they've got it wrong once again. Evolution isn't fact, it's a Hypothesis.

Now, I, like many of the Christians you mention (even though I am a Hedonist -- meetings every 3rd Monday), prefer to lean toward a theory that has some supporting evidence rather than apply the doctrine of blind faith to every facet of my life. I do not, accept Evolution as fact, and to do so would be as much a mistake as Creationism

*Wanders off to find other threads to derail*
posted by thanotopsis at 4:10 AM on March 12, 2003

This Skeptical Inquirer article reviews Drosnin's claims. With follow-up.
posted by talos at 5:09 AM on March 12, 2003

The question we should be asking ourselves is why do we want to believe in this crap?

Maybe it's just that real life is getting far too absurd to handle...
posted by hoskala at 6:13 AM on March 12, 2003

Look, anything is possible in a country whose Attorney General is convinced that calico cats are possessed of the devil.

Seeing as how the person who originated this tale is the (ahem) treasurer of the national Democratic Party, who refuses to reveal his source, I would treat it with considerable skepticism.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 7:48 AM on March 12, 2003

I don't run across "Xtian" that much, but I do believe either that or "Xian" is the standard scholarly shortand for "Christian." But saying "Eks-mus" just sounds dumb. (Same number of syllables....why not just stick to "Christmas"? At least then you don't have to waste your breath to explain.)
posted by Vidiot at 9:20 AM on March 12, 2003

Urban Legends Reference Pages:

Claim: Attorney General John Ashcroft believes calico cats are a sign of the devil.

Status: Undetermined.

Origins: This has to be one of the most bizarre items we've had to tackle in recent memory.

The "Attorney General John Ashcroft believes calico cats are a sign of the devil" claim began with a 20 November 2001 article by Democratic Party treasurer and financial writer Andrew Tobias, in which he wrote:

Shortly after becoming Attorney General, John Ashcroft was headed abroad. An advance team showed up at the American embassy in the Hague to check out the digs, saw cats in residence, and got nervous. They were worried there might be a calico cat. No, they were told, no calicos. Visible relief. Their boss, they explained, believes calico cats are signs of the devil. (The advance team also spied a statue of a naked woman in the courtyard and discussed the possibility of its being covered for the visit, though that request was not ultimately made.)

As unusual as this passage may sound, note that the parenthetical comment was written a full two months before ABC News reported that Attorney General Ashcroft had ordered the Spirit of Justice and Majesty of Law statues in the Great Hall of the Department of Justice be covered because he didn't like being photographed in front of them. (The Spirit of Justice statue is a female figure with one exposed breast.)

A week later, Tobias' column explained where he had obtained the information about Ashcroft and calico cats from:

I've written for a variety of magazines over the last 30 years, including a column in TIME for several years, and have some appreciation of the need not to publish allegations as true unless I've checked them out. I got this odd story from someone who was definitely in a position to know and then confirmed it with someone else, also in a position to know.

That said, it's certainly possible that Ashcroft doesn't actually believe calico cats are signs of the devil, even though his aides said he does. And it’s possible that his aides were kidding, or overly sensitive, when they discussed covering the naked statue.

Then again, the Attorney General does not hide his deep religious faith -- one need only read his remarks at Bob Jones University to get some appreciation of that -- and a lot of deeply religious people do believe in a heaven and a hell and the devil. So it may not be as odd as the story of Nancy Reagan consulting her astrologer before letting Ronnie make important decisions. Who knows?

The UK newspaper The Guardian noted:

When asked about the veracity of the report, the justice department said that it had made Mr Ashcroft laugh. There has been no further comment on the matter.

What the game is here -- if indeed there is one -- we can't fathom.

posted by y2karl at 7:02 PM on March 12, 2003

Thanotopsis: Every time Evolution is mentioned in a thread, another mefite steps up to demonstrate his ignorance of scientific theory and everyday usage of the term theory. Today it's you. Here's an easily googled link and there are others that you can find if you care enough to look.
posted by monkeyman at 1:25 PM on March 17, 2003

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