A Quick Gitmo Roundup

Sunday, June 12, 2005

I'm just about Gitmo'ed out. I've pretty much said what I think needs saying about the origins of this debacle in the acceptance, by our own leaders, of the moral premise of the Moslems that our soldiers are somehow unfit to touch a Koran. Nevertheless, the story continues to develop in three ways. (1) The leftist media, realizing that they've got Bush on the run are getting ready to take the gloves off. If Bush won't defend himself over a trivial matter like a book being damaged, why not manufacture more and better scandals? (2) Other commentators continue to explore the philosophical ramifications of the pseudoscandal. (3) The consequences of Bush's failure of leadership continue to play themselves out.

Unless Bush dramatically changes course from evasion and appeasement to standing his ground, I predict that Gitmo will close by year's end or that there will be a firm plan in place to do so. If and when that occurs, the left will find something else to attack Bush for. That's what you get when you try to satisfy someone who has already decided that no matter what you do, you are not good enough. The correct answer, George, is to ignore such people after first explaining to those who are open to reason what you stand for and why you are ignoring the ridiculous accusations of the media moonbats.

So, by category, I offer the following Gitmo Roundup. I end with a list of my own posts, with brief descriptions of each.

(1) Leftist Media Begin Ramping Up

Time Magazine, forgetting that we are in a war, but remembering that Bush won't stand up to criticism over a damaged book, is now out to paint our interrogation techniques in as bad a light as possible. From the first of these articles:

The detainee’s physical condition is frequently checked by medical corpsmen—sometimes as often as three times a day—which indicates either spectacular concern about al-Qahtani’s health or persistent worry about just how much stress he can take. Although the log does not appear obviously censored, it is also plainly incomplete: there are numerous gaps in the notes about what is said and what is happening in the interrogation booth beyond details like "Detainee taken to bathroom and walked for 10 minutes," TIME reports.

Chief Pentagon spokesman Larry DiRita tells TIME that the log was compiled by various uniformed interrogators and observers on the Pentagon’s Joint Task Force at Gitmo as the interrogation proceeded. It is stamped SECRET ORCON, a military acronym for a document that is supposed to remain with the organization that created it. A Pentagon official who has seen the log describes it as the "kind of document that was never meant to leave Gitmo."

The first paragraph demonstrates the futility of making frequent medical checks of a prisoner to placate the likes of Amnesty. Note the spin: The frequency of medical checks, according to Time anyway, plainly reflect the "persistent worry about just how much stress he can take." And note that the fact that a document is classified is ipso facto an indication that something shady is going on.

And for those who might think I'm being hard on Time, let me point out that while Time went through the trouble -- twice -- to report on abuses at Abu "the last Guantanamo" Ghraib, these were on American abuses. I had to look up Abu Ghraib in the Wikipedia to get a better idea of what Hussein-era atrocities at Abu Ghraib Time found unworthy of mention. (At least Amnesty International saw fit to report the following, although it did not use the term "gulag" in its description so far as I can tell.)
Amnesty International reports give some idea of the scale of the brutality — though researchers admit to being unable to provide a full picture because of the government's secrecy:

* 1994 — More than 150 detainees executed over two days in January

* 1996 — Hundreds of opposition group members executed in November

* 1998 — 60 people executed in June, mostly detainees from 1991 Shia uprising

* 1999 — At least 100 prisoners executed on 12 October

* 2001 — 23 political prisoners, mainly Shia Muslims, executed in October
I point this out, not to defend prisoner abuse on our part, but to indicate where the loyalties of Amnesty International and Time Magazine lie.

(2) Other Commentators

First off, Alexander Marriott, wrote the following on this matter last week. (HT: Diana Hsieh)

The only real news in this case is that we treat these scumbags so well, giving them their precious book in the first place. They don't care that their freedom is curtailed, it was already non-existent in the Middle East anyway, ....

[Go to his post for hilarious top ten list....]

... [I]n World War II ... , did we issue Mein Kampf to all the [German] prisoners and play German propaganda so that they could stay immersed in the irrational beliefs that led them to war in the first place? Of course not, back then we weren't complete idiots yet.

Second, a news reporter actually takes the time to report the facts about who, exactly, was "desecrating" Korans at Gitmo. While this story is not, strictly speaking, commentary, its focus on facts effectively makes it so when today's low standards of journalism are used as a touchstone.

Sgt. Riestenberg of the Army Reserves spent a year at Guantanamo, baby-sitting terrorists and Talibaners. "The U.S. troops' hands are just tied," he told me when he came home to Harrison, Ohio, in 2002. "The detainees pretty much ran the place."

He described prisoners who threw urine and feces on guards, while the military twisted itself into double knots of cultural sensitivity, such as arrows painted on cell floors to show the direction for prayers to Mecca.

The official investigation found the same story.

"A detainee refused recreation time and his cell was searched. A rock hidden in a canteen and a nail hidden in a bucket were found during the search. The detainee was returned to his cell after the search and he fell on the ground. He claimed that the guards hit him in the groin, threw him on the ground and then kicked his Quran."

Another detainee complained that an obscenity had been written in his Quran. "It is possible that a guard committed this act," the report said. "It is equally possible that the detainee wrote in his own Quran; however, we consider this a confirmed incident."

And then, for good dose of sanity, one can often count on Mark Steyn. The entire column is choice, but I will provide two salient quotations here. First, he nicely sums up the sheer hypocrisy of the Koran "desecration" "scandal."
When three times as many detainees "desecrate" the Koran as U.S. guards do, it seems clear that the whole Operation Desecration ballyhoo is yet another media crock and the Organization of the Islamic Conference and all the rest are complaining about nothing. Or is Quran desecration one of those things like Jews telling Jewish jokes or gangsta rappers recording numbers like "Strictly 4 My Niggaz"? Are only devout Muslims allowed to desecrate the Quran? No doubt that's why the Egyptian foreign minister and company had no comment on the recent suicide bombing at a mosque in Kandahar, which killed 20, wounded more than 50 and presumably desecrated every Quran in the building.
And, in closing, he hits the nail on the head.
Guantanamo will be remembered not as a byword for torture but for self-torture, a Western fetish the jihad's spin doctors understand all too well.
Indeed. Why demand that Westerners accept dhimmitude when so many voluntarily submit?

(3) The Continuing Fallout

When the most powerful Republican in the nation fails to stand up for his own policies, how can other members of his own party count on his backup? If Bush's "forward strategy of freedom" relies on the downtrodden to be inspired to revolt by the downfall of other dictatorial regimes, this strategy depends on an important lynchpin: the willingness of the United States to back up at least some of those who struggle for freedom.

Domestically, we are seeing a sort of "backward cascade of capitulation" whereby Bush's moral cowardice ensures that politicians allied to Bush act as if they have no political allies. (Which, in effect, they don't.) In practical terms, this means that they fold like a house of cards when challenged on an issue for which they need to know that the man with the bully pulpit will stand behind them.

And so we see a Republican senator calling for the closure of Gitmo.
Sen. Mel Martinez said the Bush administration should consider closing the Guantanamo Bay prison for terrorism suspects — the first high-profile Republican to make the suggestion. "It's become an icon for bad stories, and at some point you wonder the cost-benefit ratio," Martinez said Friday. Martinez, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, made his comments after Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden suggested earlier in the week that the prison in Cuba be shut down.
And who, pray tell, let Gitmo become "an icon for bad stories?"

To Bush and Martinez, I ask: "What will become an icon after Gitmo is closed?" Close Gitmo and there will be another. Gitmo is merely the first domino.

(4) My Earlier Posts

6-10-05: In "Real Desecration," I note that our de facto acceptance of the Moslem opinion of our soldiers as "unclean" (and so unfit to touch the Koran) is at best a low in the treatment of our soldiers equalled by how black servicemen were treated in the Jim Crow South.,

6-9-05: In "Bush the Weasel," I commented on the fact that the Bush administration reversed its apparent (?) refusal (from the previous day) to consider the closure of Gitmo.

6-8-05: In "Has Bush Gone Wobbly?" I commented on the media spin of replies by Bush administration officials to questions by reporters on whether Gitmo should be closed. The near-unanimous media verdict was that Bush was open to closing the prison camp.

6-7-05: In "Appeasement is in the Air," I contemplate what the moral weakness of the Bush administration concerning Gitmo might mean for the war effort in general.

6-5-06: In "Biden to Close Down 'Gulag'," I note the similarity between the post-war Gitmo brouhaha and the pre-war objections to taking military action against state sponsors of terrorism.

6-4-05: In "The Media 'Insurgency'," I note that the media, rather oddly for a "guarantor of democracy," seems to regard the Koran "desecration" scandal more important than the fact that Iran is harboring terrorists as it works towards membership in the nuclear club (and our leaders do nothing). And the Michael Jackson trial trumps both!

6-2-05: In "AI Shows Newsweek How It's Done," I speculate on why Amnesty International duplicates Newsweek's hysterical attack on America for Koran "desecration" -- except for the retraction.

From that post:
The sixties may be over, but I'm not quite feeling smug about it. This blatant attempt to raise a drumbeat over Gitmo could work if Bush lets it.
By all indications, he's letting it.

5-16-05: In "Whose Riots?" I ask who is to blame for the first round of Koran "desecration" riots and get an interesting answer.

-- CAV

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