For release 5/3/07
By Robert C. Koehler
Tribune Media Services

Sixteen words may be all that stand right now between the apparatus of government and the Founding Fathers’ worst nightmare. And those words are starting to give.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .”

When George Bush, in the wake of 9/11, puffed himself into Richard the Lionheart and declared he would lead the country in a “crusade” against terrorism – you know, crusade, as in slaughter of Muslim infidels – turns out . . . oh, how awkward (if you’re on White House spin duty) . . . he may have been speaking literally.

What’s certain, in any case, is that a lot of people in high and low places within the Bush administration – and in particular, the military – heard him literally, and regard the war on terror as a religious war:

“The enemy has got a face. He’s called Satan. He lives in Fallujah. And we’re going to destroy him,” a lieutenant colonel, according to a BBC reporter, said to his troops on the eve of the destruction of that undefended city in post-election 2004.

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