Michigan Muslims Feel Sectarian Ripples

In Dearborn, Mich., the nation's largest Arab-American community, Shia and Sunnis have long lived together mostly peacefully. But it appears that some of Iraq's sectarian violence is being mirrored in the Detroit area, particularly in recent months. As the Muslim communities have grown and prospered, more mosques have been built and some of the divides between these sects have been brought into sharper focus.

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DANIEL SCHORR: If the Iraq War has done nothing else for us, it has enriched the lexicon of conflict, investing old words with new meanings.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

NPR's senior news analyst, Daniel Schorr.

SCHORR: Take surge, for example. To me and to Webster, surge is a sudden wave that a surfer might encounter. Now, it's a temporary deployment of troops that you might also call escalation. The dictionary doesn't tell you how long is temporary.

Non-binding means morally binding, but without the guts to say so. It means getting the credit for wanting the troops to come home without running up against that other slogan, support the troops. Extraordinary rendition? I would've thought that that refers to Itzhak Perlman playing Beethoven, but no, now it refers to abducting and transporting a terrorism suspect across borders to some other country for some rough interrogation.

Currently, my favorite expression is alternative intelligence assessment. The first time I heard of that was when it became known that the CIA had not come up with the information that the administration wanted in 2003 as it prepared for the invasion of Iraq. The fuddy-duddy CIA and its associates didn't come up with strong enough intelligence, no smoking guns to be found or weapons of mass destruction or a rumored link between Iraq and the 9/11 hijackers. The undersecretary of defense, Douglas Feith, turned to the Pentagon's own intelligence office.

In the end, there was an investigation by the Pentagon's inspector general. It concluded that Feith's office produced reports not fully substantiated by available intelligence. The inspector general also concluded that the Feith team acted inappropriately but did not violate the law.

On February 2nd, the national intelligence estimate on Iraq was released. It is unfailingly pessimistic, explaining that the term civil war does not adequately capture the complexity of the conflict in Iraq, which includes extensive, widespread, criminally motivated violence, according to the estimate. And this time around, no one is talking about an alternative assessment.

This is Daniel Schorr.

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