Noam Chomsky books banned at Gitmo

This should provide good fodder for, well, Noam Chomsky: U.S. military censors recently rejected a Pentagon lawyer’s donation of an Arabic-language copy of the political activist and linguistic professor’s 2007 anthology Interventions for the library, which has more than 16,000 items. Chomsky, 80, who has been voicing disgust with U.S. foreign policy since the Vietnam ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
579286_091014_chomsky2.jpg
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US essayist and intellectual Noam Chomsky, addresses a conference in Caracas on August 24, 2009. Chomsky said that the fight against drug trafficking and the military presence in Colombian air bases, are just a pretexts of the US to keep with its intervention in the region. AFP PHOTO/Juan BARRETO (Photo credit should read JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images)

This should provide good fodder for, well, Noam Chomsky:

U.S. military censors recently rejected a Pentagon lawyer's donation of an Arabic-language copy of the political activist and linguistic professor's 2007 anthology Interventions for the library, which has more than 16,000 items.

Chomsky, 80, who has been voicing disgust with U.S. foreign policy since the Vietnam War, reacted with irritation and derision. "This happens sometimes in totalitarian regimes,'' he told The Miami Herald by e-mail after learning of the decision.

This should provide good fodder for, well, Noam Chomsky:

U.S. military censors recently rejected a Pentagon lawyer’s donation of an Arabic-language copy of the political activist and linguistic professor’s 2007 anthology Interventions for the library, which has more than 16,000 items.

Chomsky, 80, who has been voicing disgust with U.S. foreign policy since the Vietnam War, reacted with irritation and derision. “This happens sometimes in totalitarian regimes,” he told The Miami Herald by e-mail after learning of the decision.

“Of some incidental interest, perhaps, is the nature of the book they banned. It consists of op-eds written for The New York Times syndicate and distributed by them. The subversive rot must run very deep.”

Prison camp officials would not say specifically why the book was rejected but Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brook DeWalt, a Guantánamo spokesman, said staff reviews “every proposed or recommended library item to assess force protection issues associated with camp dynamics — such as impact on good order and discipline.” […]

A rejection slip accompanying the Chomsky book did not explain the reason but listed categories of restricted literature to include those espousing “Anti-American, Anti-Semitic, Anti-Western” ideology, literature on “military topics,” and works that portray “excessive graphic violence” and “sexual dysfunctions.”

I’m guessing the censors felt this fell into the “anti-American” category. Chomsky’s works have received public endorsements from both Hugo Chavez and Osama bin Laden in recent years. I kind of doubt that Chomsky’s is what’s going to push Guantanmo inmates over the edge into anti-Americanism though.

This was also very odd: 

Other reportedly popular items [in the Guantanamo library] include old World Cup soccer playoff videos, a French cuisine cookbook published in Beirut and scholarship on the Koran, prescreened to make sure they contain mainstream messages.

For a time, Richard Nixon’s Victory Without War flew off the shelves, a librarian reported. So much so that alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed referred to it during a war court hearing earlier this year.

I would expect Chomsky to be a hit, but Nixon?

Hat tip: Gideon Rachman

JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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