Ecumenical Editing of the Navy’s Muslim Sea Burial Prayer Service

Also see related interview, Steve Malzberg Show where Andrew Bostom is interviewed.

Osama Bin Laden’s putative sea burial ceremony aboard the USS Carl Vinson was performed “in strict conformance with Islamic precepts and practices” according to repeated assertions by chief counterterrorism adviser John Brennan. Indeed, there is more than ample reason to believe that the Navy Military Funerals protocol was followed—a logical inference, which at any rate should be confirmed or denied by release of the reported video footage of Bin Laden’s ceremonial burial. As Anneke Green of the Washington Times noted,

According to the Pentagon, “prepared religious remarks” were read at bin Laden’s funeral, but when asked whether his burial was performed according to Navy Military Funeral protocol, they had “no additional operational details or comments to make.” Mr. Brennan, however, in his Monday briefing on the bin Laden operation, reassured reporters that, “Burial at sea takes place on a regular basis. The U.S. military has the ability to ensure that that burial is done in a manner that is, again, consistent with Islamic law, as well as consistent with what the requirements are for a burial at sea. And so that burial was done appropriately.”

Navy Military Funerals eligibility criteria are described in Section II, At Sea Disposition, Art. 2-1:

The regulations for the disposition of remains and inurned cremated remains (cremains) from a naval vessel, or inurned remains from a naval aircraft are set forth by the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. The following persons are eligible for at sea disposition:

1. Members of the uniformed services.
2. Retired members of the uniformed services.
3. Former members of the uniformed services honorably discharged.
4. U.S. Civilian Marine Personnel of the Military Sealift Command.
5. Dependents of members and dependents of former members of the uniformed services.
6. Other U.S. citizens who are determined eligible by notable service or outstanding contributions to the United States.

If this protocol was applied to Bin Laden’s sea burial, it amounts to an egregious violation of both the letter and spirit of the Navy’s appropriate eligibility criteria for this commemorative national honor.

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