A few weeks ago, when frustrated by the cost to park in a certain lot, I made some nasty comment to the parking attendant as I paid the fee. Later, I regretted my language. I had been wrong to be so rude to that woman. It bothered me that I acted that way; over the past few years, I have made it a practice to be courteous to parking lot attendants, realizing how thankless their jobs must be.
If you didn’t like me, you might single out that one episode to say that Dan treats parking lot attendants badly. In so doing, you might accurately relate one story, but would not be telling the truth about the entire situation.
This is exactly how many Democrats — and many in the MSM — have treated the Administration’s treatment of suspected terrorists and other detainees at the detention facility at Guantanamo — as well as at other prisons. They focus only on the military’s wrongdoing without seeing it in complete context of the way the Administration has treated prisoners in the War on Terror.
Lately, the conservative media and conservative bloggers have made much of Illinois Senator Dick Durbin’s comparison of the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo to the death camps of Hitler and Pol Pot and the work camps of Stalin. (From what I’ve read, Hugh Hewitt, Roger Simon and Polipundit have offered some of the best commentary–and links–on the Illinoisan’s remarks.) David Gelernter has called Senator Durbin’s comparison “an astonishing, obscene piece of ignorance.” Unfortunately, Durbin’s ignorance–and that of others like him–has helped shape world opinion about U.S. treatment of its detainees. Al-Jazeera, an Arab news network, has picked up on his remarks.
Others, including a few Republicans, have suggested that the U.S. close down the Guantanamo facility because it has gained such a bad reputation around the world. it would not have gained that reputation had the Administration’s critics and MSM done more than report on the bad things that happened there. Had it presented them in context and acknowledged that our military has investigated the alleged abuses and acted to correct them.
Indeed, Administration critics harp on the wrongdoing at Guantanamo and other prisons. The left-wing blogger, Daily Kos said recently, “The torture that was so bad under Saddam, is equally bad under U.S. command.” Fellow Bear-Flag blogger My Pet Jawa, who alerted me to Kos’ absurd comparison notes correctly
Almost all of the accusations of ‘torture’ are NOT REAL TORTURE. Instead, they are minor instances of harsh treatment–the kind of treatment you probably wouldn’t want to be subjected to–but they aren’t TORTURE.
He goes out to detail (with graphic images) the reality of torture in Iraq before U.S. troops liberated it from Saddam Hussein. (Be warned of the gruesome nature of the images on his site.)
We need to bear in mind that this is not a detention facility for people who were opposing U.S. policies by organizing protests and giving speeches. Many of these people trained in Osama Bin Laden’s terrorist camps and were caught on the battlefield, fighting Americans. They weren’t wearing the uniforms of the armed forces of any nation. Some targeted civilians as well as military personnel.
As the Vice President noted “10 of the 200 people who had been held at the U.S. base on Cuba and were later returned to their home countries had rejoined the fight and been captured or encountered.” In short, these are bad people, many of whom have information which could help us in the War on Terror, protecting not only American soldiers, but also American civilians and indeed civilians across the globe, including many in Muslim lands.
Although we are holding enemy combatants not entitled to the protections the Geneva Convention gives soldiers, the U.S. military has treated the detainees remarkably well. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter “recently displayed plates of Guantanamo-like prison entrees of lemon-baked fish and oven-fried chicken with rice, fruit and vegetables — ‘purchased for them by American taxpayers’” to show how well they eat. These prisoners get better “medical care than theyve ever had in their lives. Theyre permitted daily prayers, and the Koran is made available in thirteen languages.” (I wonder why the ACLU isn’t protesting that the federal government is paying to give a religious text to prisoners in its custody.)
On the whole, we are treating these suspected terrorists better than most nations treat prisoners accused of far lesser crimes. To be sure, we have made some mistakes. It is entirely appropriate for Senator Durbin–and the media–to look into alleged abuses. But, they need to see them in context. When Senator Durbin compares what our military is doing to the worst tyrants of the last century, when Amnesty International calls Guantanamo a gulag, when Kos says we are treating the prisoners no better than a despot we overthrew, they are removing the context and exaggerating the level of abuse.
While not rising to the level of some of the alleged abuses at the camps, my recent rudeness to that one parking lot attendant is just one example of my treatment of parking lot attendants. If you said that I was that I rude to this woman, you would accurately relate that one incident. But, you would not be telling the full story of the way I treat parking lot attendants.
Such is the way many of the Administration critics have been describing our military’s treatment of prisoners in its custody–focusing on a handful of abuses to describe an entire situation. It doesn’t seem these critics are interested in the truth, nor does it seem that they are genuinely concerned about the welfare of our detainees. They’re just looking for another excuse to attack President Bush and his Administration.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com
UPDATE: Reader Scott from Atlanta has this to say:
I remain perplexed at how many people are arm chair critics in our society. I mean, I know you snapped at her. But I listen to talk radio and know that everyone in this day and age feels compelled to criticize others. It is in our DNA. I just wonder what it would be like for all of us if we really imagined what it would be like to have the same level of criticism that is daily directed toward the administration, professional athletes, etc. focused on each and every one of us. I too get frustrated at morons who cannot handle a basic math transaction. However, people who over-analysis every event in the foreign relations business need to ask themselves, “would I bear the same scrutiny in my daily work?”
Arguably, no detention facility in the history of warfare has been more transparent or received more scrutiny than Guantanamo. Last year the department declassified highly sensitive memorandum on interrogation techniques. Unfortunately, they were documents that are useful to terrorist operatives, and we posted them on the Internet specifically to set the record straight about U.S. policies and practices.
There have been nearly 400 separate media visits to Guantanamo Bay by more than 1,000 journalists. Additionally, some 180 congressional representatives have visited the facility.
We provide continuous access to the International Committee of the Red Cross, whose representatives meet privately with the detainees.
Allegations of abuse at Guantanamo, as at any other U.S. military facility, have been thoroughly investigated. Any wrongdoing is — wrongdoers are being held accountable. The U.S. military has instituted numerous reforms of the conduct of detainee operations, with a renewed emphasis on standards and training.
The average weight gain among the prisoners at Guantanamo is 18 pounds, said a spokesman for the Joint Task Force there. This is because the detainees eat better than do U.S. soldiers in Iraq, says Rep. Duncan Hunter, the California Republican who is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
Gitmo is the first POW camp in the history of the world where prisoners gain weight. Some gulag.