Patterico's Pontifications

9/17/2006

Kafka and Orwell Meet Reality: NYT Article on Guantánamo Shows that the June Suicides Were a Publicity Stunt After All

Filed under: Civil Liberties,Terrorism — Patterico @ 2:39 pm

Today’s New York Times magazine has a lengthy and fascinating article on Guantánamo. Among other things, it confirms that the June suicides of three detainees was indeed a publicity stunt designed to put pressure on the United States to shut down the facility. The likelihood that the suicides were a planned act of asymmetrical warfare was something that Army officials (and I) pointed out at the time — and which lefty commenters ridiculed as an “Orwellian” and “Kafkaesque” position.

The article describes the plan as originating as early as July 2005. Col. Mike Bumgarner, the warden of Guantánamo, went to see Shaker Aamer, an alleged London Al Qaeda operative who spoke flawless English and had gained status among the detainees through sheer force of personality:

The colonel went to see Aamer at a small hospital inside the detention camp. He was sitting on a bed, one ankle chained to the frame, surrounded by some of the other more determined hunger-strikers. According to Bumgarner, Aamer told him that several of the detainees had had a “vision,” in which three of them had to die for the rest to be freed. Still, he agreed to try to persuade them to drop the protest.

No doubt some will ridicule this as a self-serving statement by the colonel. I encourage you to read the whole article before making such an argument. As the article makes clear, Colonel Bumgarner took great pains to try to make the detainees’ lives more bearable, to improve their living conditions, and to respond to their complaints, often meeting with them personally. These efforts caused great consternation among intelligence officials at Guantánamo, who wanted to be in charge of when privileges would be removed and reinstated:

Back at Bumgarner’s command center, some of his staff officers wondered about the wisdom of trying to solve such complaints. They were used to their commanders walking the blocks and occasionally speaking to prisoners; they were not accustomed to sit-downs. . . . Still, the unease of Bumgarner’s staff did not compare with the reaction he got from the intelligence side of the Guantánamo task force. There had long been tension between the two military units, but this time members of the Joint Intelligence Group “were furious,” one staff officer recalled. There were few privileges to give out at Guantánamo, this officer and others said, and interrogators felt they should be the ones to dispense them — in return for cooperation from the detainees.

There was a serious set of hunger strikes in December 2005. Contrary to the views of those (like commenter steve) who believed that Americans would be delighted at suicides by Guantánamo detainees, it is clear that Colonel Bumgarner took extraordinary measures to keep hunger strikers alive, despite their intense determination to expel any nutrition from their bodies:

By late November, while many of the strikers were maintaining their weight, four or five of them were becoming dangerously malnourished, [Navy Capt. John S. Edmondson, MD] said. By sucking on their feeding tubes, they had figured out how to siphon out the contents of their stomachs. Others simply vomited after they had been fed.

On Dec. 5, the guard force ordered five “restraint chairs” from a small manufacturer in Iowa. If obdurate detainees could be strapped down during and after their feedings, the guard officers hoped, it might ensure that they digested what they were fed.

Days later, a Navy forensic psychiatrist arrived at Guantánamo, followed by three experts from a Bureau of Prisons medical center in Missouri. Bumgarner said the visitors agreed with him that the strike was a “discipline issue”: “If you don’t eat, it’s the same as an attempted suicide. It’s a violation of camp rules.” In addition to feeding prisoners in the chair, some of the more influential hunger-strikers were sent off to Camp Echo with the hope of weakening the others’ resolve. The number of strikers, which was at 84 in early January, soon fell to a handful.

These measures initially appeared to work, and it seemed that our military was getting the upper hand on the hunger strikers. That proved to be an illusion when, in May, several detainees “ingested sleeping pills, antianxiety medication and antipsychotics” that they had been hoarding with the apparent cooperation of other detainees. These suicide attempts were unsuccessful — but then in June, three detainees, with no previous history of depression, hung themselves as part of an apparent plot to create a stir:

Some officials recalled the detainees’ premonition about three of them having to die. The medical staff tried to more closely monitor detainees with mental-health problems. But that screening apparently did not factor in the possibility that the men might have been determined to kill themselves for other reasons — like loyalty to a cause.

Sometime before midnight on June 9, three young Arab men, who were being held near one another in a single block of Camp 1, moved quietly to the backs of their small cells and began to string up nooses that had been elaborately made from torn linens and clothing. The bright lights had been turned down for the night. Still, the prisoners had to work quickly: guards were supposed to walk the block every three minutes.

After anchoring the nooses in the steel mesh walls of their cells, the three — Mani al-Utaybi, and Yasser Talal al-Zahrani, both Saudis, and Ali Abdullah Ahmed, of Yemen — piled clothing under their bedsheets to make it appear that they were asleep. They stuffed wads of fabric into their mouths, either to muffle their cries or perhaps to help themselves suffocate. At least one of the men also bound his legs, military officials said, apparently so he would not be able to kick as he died.

With the nooses pulled over their heads, the prisoners slipped behind blankets they had hung over the back corners of their cells and stepped onto their small, stainless-steel sinks. The drop was short — only about 18 inches — but adequate. By the time they were discovered, doctors surmised, the men had been asphyxiated for at least 20 minutes and probably longer. Military and intelligence officials said it appeared that the other 20-odd prisoners on the block knew that the suicides were being prepared. Some may have prayed with the men, the officials said, and a few may have assisted in carrying out the plan. What is certain is that in contrast to most previous suicide attempts at the camp, none of the detainees made any effort to alert the guards.

These detainees had no record of psychological problems:

When doctors reviewed their files on the three men, they found that none of them had shown signs of depression or other psychological problems. All three had been on hunger strikes — one of them since the previous August — and at least two of them had been evaluated when they abandoned their protests. One doctor recalled one of the men telling him brightly: “I’m sleeping well. I feel well. No problems.”

Ironically, the colonel’s quality-of-life initiatives may have contributed to the detainees’ ability to kill themselves:

“We tried to improve their lives to the extent that we can — to the point that we may have gone overboard, not recognizing the real nature of who we’re dealing with,” he said. “I thought they had proven themselves. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I did not think that they would kill themselves.”

Bumgarner said he could not discuss the suicides because of the Navy’s continuing investigation. But several officials said that the three detainees had taken advantage of some of the colonel’s quality-of-life reforms, including the nighttime dimming of lights and the availability of extra clothing. There were also indications that Ghassan al-Sharbi, the colonel’s onetime interlocutor, had helped plan the suicides, two of the officials said.

The article states: “At a news conference hours after the suicides, the new Guantánamo commander, Admiral Harry Harris, described them as an act of ‘asymmetric warfare.'” Based on the article, it’s clear that this is so. In my post about the suicides, I agreed, saying (with deadpan sarcasm): “Islamic extremists committing suicide . . . why, it’s unprecedented! We have to shut the whole place down!

In a comment, I accused the L.A. Times of playing into the terrorists’ hands by hyping the calls for Guantánamo to be shut down, noting: “The suicides also prompt[ed] the military to say that the suicides are part of an organized campaign to get an immediate shutdown.”

Commenter steve replied: “Kafka couldn’t have said it better.” assistant devil’s advocate disagreed, calling it “Orwellian” rather than Kafkaesque:

am i the only person here who recognized the statement of gitmo commander admiral harris “this was an act of asymmetric warfare against the united states” as an orwellian moral obscenity?

steve further opined: “Privately, they [American officials] may be loving this.”

Yet from the article, it appears clear that American officials were far from pleased at the suicides, and did everything they could to prevent them. Furthermore, the lefties were wrong to deride as “Orwellian” or “Kafkaesque” the military’s view of the suicides as an act of P.R. warfare. From all available evidence, that’s exactly what they were.

I encourage everyone to read the lengthy article. It makes a pretty good case for treating most standard detainees in a manner compliant with the Geneva Conventions. But keep in mind that the article covers a period of time when the worst of the worst, like 9/11 orchestrator Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, were being held in secret prisons abroad. Now that they are headed to Guantánamo, there is a real debate to be had about what the boundaries of effective interrogation should be for detainees like them.

What the article illustrates is that we are dealing with an enemy that is unlike us. Most Americans would never consider killing themselves to bring poor publicity to the country detaining us. These men went to great lengths to do exactly that. Whatever our policies are, they must take account of the fact that our detainees’ mindset is different from most of those we have encountered in the past.

UPDATE: Allah says I overstated things when I claimed that the article “confirms” that the suicides were a publicity stunt. Perhaps; I suppose the article is not bulletproof. The evidence quoted in the article relies in significant part on interviews of U.S. personnel. But the article as a whole claims to be “based on interviews with more than 100 military and intelligence officials, guards, former detainees and others” — and given the level of detail it contains, I find it quite convincing. Read it and judge for yourself.

UPDATE x2 12-9-06: I noticed that I had the month of the suicides wrong in the post, and fixed it (from July to June).

71 Responses to “Kafka and Orwell Meet Reality: NYT Article on Guantánamo Shows that the June Suicides Were a Publicity Stunt After All”

  1. Good find and a good post. You might also want to check out James Taranto’s interview with Adm. Harris here.

    See Dubya (985614)

  2. Most of the detainees there are still in the fight. I was deployed there and left in May, just before the attacks on the guards (during a faked suicide attempt). That was closely followed by the three suicides. The personnel at GTMO are professionals who do the best job they can while facing a determined enemy. COL Bumgarner is one of the finest officers I have ever met, a soldier’s leader. Balancing the political, medical, and intelligence needs was a nightmare that he handled expertly. He has nothing to regret, IMHO.

    Stashiu3 (0da7ed)

  3. […] Patterico overstates things when he says the article “confirms” it, but all available evidence does point in that direction. The medical staff tried to more closely monitor detainees with mental-health problems. But that screening apparently did not factor in the possibility that the men might have been determined to kill themselves for other reasons — like loyalty to a cause… […]

    Hot Air » Blog Archive » NYT: Gitmo suicides appear to have been politically motivated (d4224a)

  4. An act of asymmetric warfare — which is apparently working….

    Even if Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld were stupid enough to order torture at Guantanamo, the people who would have to actually carry it out aren’t stupid: they can hear and they can read, and they all know what happened to the soldiers who fouled up…

    Common Sense Political Thought (819604)

  5. So Actus, do you see their planned suicides as a valid form of protest against (alleged) intolerable conditions? Is that your point? Do you have one? If so, articulate it this time, if you have the capacity. Or is this more of your typical drive-by snark without a point?

    Stashiu3 (0da7ed)

  6. IIRC, under Islam, suicide would be a grave sin unless it were performed as an act of war to advance the Islamic cause.

    [That issue is addressed in the article. — P]

    ras (a646fc)

  7. So, what’s our problem with the Gitmo detainees committing suicide (via hungerstrike, hanging, or whatever) anyway? Now, we don’t want to look bad so I suppose we might want to take some minimal precautions to prevent suicide, but why go through the trouble to restrain and force-feed our enemies when they’re trying to kill themselves? The world is better off without them anyway.

    That all assumes that mass suicides would actually look bad. On the other hand, there seem to be plenty of groups in the western world who think everyone SHOULD be able to commit suicide if they want to. (Though maybe only with the help of a physician). Given that, maybe we should circulate a suicide sign-up sheet and provide them with the appropriate poisons ourselves–as long as we could find a doctor to do it.

    Seneca (962f6f)

  8. So Actus, do you see their planned suicides as a valid form of protest against (alleged) intolerable conditions?

    People might be having a hard time understanding the concept of an ‘asymetric warfare stunt.’ It did for me. I had to think about what that meant. So I thought some illustrations could help, as they did for me.

    actus (10527e)

  9. On the other hand, there seem to be plenty of groups in the western world who think everyone SHOULD be able to commit suicide if they want to.

    My guess is that those groups argue that people should be able to choose suicide, but not that all suicide is unproblematic.

    actus (10527e)

  10. So Actus, do you see their planned suicides as a valid form of protest against (alleged) intolerable conditions?

    What are your feelings about this?

    Polymer (6946e1)

  11. So, what’s our problem with the Gitmo detainees committing suicide (via hungerstrike, hanging, or whatever) anyway?

    The policy came from “echelons above reality” compared to where I was. Our mission was to provide optimum care to every detainee. One of the reasons given was that if detainees were allowed to die, the propaganda spin would be harmful to our efforts because the jihadis would say that the ‘suicides’ were fake and the detainees were murdered (false stories of which did in fact get published). It doesn’t matter that half the propaganda says they killed themselves because it was better than living under those conditions, and the other half says they were murdered innocents… they get news value both ways.

    When the enemy will lie in any way that benefits them, no claim is too outrageous for them to make. There was even one story that speculated that the guards knew the suicides were occurring and just didn’t care because they wanted detainees to die. Absolutely false and outrageous… but now part of the propaganda used against us.

    What are your feelings about this?

    Comment by Polymer — 9/17/2006 @ 5:28 pm

    Polymer, did you mean this for Actus or me? He never did answer that question, so I’m not sure who yours is directed to.

    Stashiu3 (0da7ed)

  12. Polymer, did you mean this for Actus or me? He never did answer that question, so I’m not sure who yours is directed to.

    It was directed towards Actus. Your position is clear. His is not.

    Polymer (6946e1)

  13. It was directed towards Actus. Your position is clear. His is not.

    Valid protest? As a tactic? I guess so. Of course the tactic is different than the goal of jihad. Which is also different than the goal of simply getting out. “(allegedely) itolerable conditions?” I’d find those conditions intolerable. Would you?

    actus (10527e)

  14. Of course the tactic is different than the goal of jihad.

    Yes, tactics by definition are different from the goals they are intended to advance.

    “(allegedely) itolerable conditions?” I’d find those conditions intolerable.

    Are you saying you would kill yourself if you were in Gitmo?

    Polymer (6946e1)

  15. Actus, they’re being held under close guard, being fed at least three times per day according to their religious customs, being allowed to pray 5 times a day… because they took up arms against your nation.

    They try to kill your soldiers and civilians.

    I don’t give a quick fart how “intolerable” they find those conditions. They are infinitely more tolerable than the torture before murder that western soldiers and civilians receive.

    Frankly, they’re lucky they weren’t shot and were captured instead. How pray tell do you believe captured enemy combatants who are still at war with your nation should be treated?

    Why, pray tell, would I or anyone who cares about victory be concerned with your thoughts?

    Christoph (9824e6)

  16. No, I didn’t find them intolerable. I’m not sure you would either since ICRC, multiple Senate visits, weekly media visits, foreign government visits (Belgium, Saudi Arabia, and several others), along with every single minute I was there, never saw evidence that current conditions were anything other than humane. As to claims of abuse before I was there, I tend to give them as much credence as the claims that have been made since I left that abuses occurred while I was there (which is absolutely none).

    I meant exactly what I said earlier… many of them are still in the fight and will do whatever their leadership tells them to for advancement of their cause.

    Of course the tactic is different than the goal of jihad. Which is also different than the goal of simply getting out.

    Is that supposed to be coherent? Tactics are the means through which goals are achieved. “Simply getting out” can be a goal in itself (if you believe they are wrongfully detained) or a tactic of jihad (so they can return to the active part of the fight… which several have done.)

    Stashiu3 (0da7ed)

  17. Are you saying you would kill yourself if you were in Gitmo?

    I’m saying I wouldn’t tolerate it and would want out.

    because they took up arms against your nation.

    Well apparently now we’re down to these people. But for a while we were holding quite a few innocents there. I think the releases are over though.

    How pray tell do you believe captured enemy combatants who are still at war with your nation should be treated?

    Intolerably, I suppose.

    Why, pray tell, would I or anyone who cares about victory be concerned with your thoughts?

    Beats me. Polymer asked. They must not be concerned with victory.

    actus (10527e)

  18. As usual, so much wrong, so little time.
    First, just because they want out doesn’t mean it is intolerable… just ask anyone in prison.
    Second, not all the people released were innocents (most were not actually). Many were released to their government and imprisoned in their home country.
    Third, detainees continue to be released as the details are ironed out with the receiving countries. Also, some have it better at GTMO than at home (“At home I had two servants, here I have many dozens more”)
    Fourth, not all want to be released… several would be executed upon touching home soil.
    Fifth, by saying “Intolerably, I suppose.”, you grant the assumption that they are being abused… wrongly.
    Sixth, and finally, I am done feeding the Actus for today. Have to get back to work.

    Stashiu3 (0da7ed)

  19. Also, some have it better at GTMO than at home (”At home I had two servants, here I have many dozens more”)

    You’d think people would be dying to get in, not out.

    Fifth, by saying “Intolerably, I suppose.”, you grant the assumption that they are being abused… wrongly.

    I don’t think intolerable is the same as abusive.

    actus (10527e)

  20. I’m saying I wouldn’t tolerate it and would want out.

    Yes, wanting out is understandable. But what form would your “wouldn’t tolerate it” take?

    Polymer (6946e1)

  21. Actus, of course they don’t prefer being detained, but that’s beside the point. They’d prefer being on a battle field or as part of a terrorist cell trying to kill you and I and our families. The point is that our governments and citizens who want to keep ourselves and families free and alive care less about the comforts and of those who aim to kill us than we do about our own necks. This is what war is about.

    They are treated far better than are our soldiers as detainees. I don’t want to abuse these people once they have been captured or have surrerendered. Few people do, least of all the president.

    But when you have plots including those involving nuclear weapons or dirty bombs being hatched… and simpler plots involving knives kill thousands from our countries (I’m Canadian), then you must take warlike actions. One of those is to detain enemy combatants for the duration of hostilities.

    This is really simple. I don’t understand why you’re not getting it. I don’t argue they like being there. If I were a soldier (again) I wouldn’t like being in an enemy prison camp, I’d strongly prefer being at my unit with my mates or even back home with my family. Or walking on the beach. I like that.

    But I certainly would understand why my enemies, whom I mean to kill, would want to keep me detained. Doesn’t that just make sense?

    And if I ever was detained in war or otherwise, I’d like to be treated as humanely as these people are treated. I certainly wouldn’t want to be “detained” by terrorist Muslim fanatics. (This is one of the many reasons we must win.)

    Their religion does teach to convert at the point of a sword, their history confirms it, and they’re still trying. I personally don’t want to let them and if this bugs them, so be it. I can handle it.

    Can’t you?

    Christoph (9824e6)

  22. But what form would your “wouldn’t tolerate it” take?

    I don’t know. I suspect for the worst case types at gitmo they basically are going to be held under those conditions forever. Or without any idea of when release might come. I’m having a hard time imagining how I would react to such a hopeless situation.

    actus (10527e)

  23. Well, Actus, many of them are reacting by keeping up the fight from behind bars.

    I can’t even say that bothers me… I understand that even our soldiers are trained to resist when captured. It is considered a patriotic duty.

    What I object to, of course, is their goal to make the whole world Islamic by force and a very dark version of Islam at that. I object to seeing my friend sad because she lost one of her best friends on September 11 and I have no intention of losing my friends, family, and loved ones.

    It may happen anyway becaust that’s our enemies’ intention… but damnit, we must stop them, including detaining and where appropriate killing them. Unless you feel that being nice will win this war, which it won’t.

    It hasn’t won any war in the past. In victory, magnanimity, but until then, ferocity.

    Christoph (9824e6)

  24. Are you saying the “worst case types” should have hope that they will be let go?

    Polymer (6946e1)

  25. OK, last feeding tonight, I swear.

    You’d think people would be dying to get in, not out.

    Your typical style of snark, uninformative and filled with unwarranted assumptions. When the US soldiers left Abu Graib to the Iraqi forces, the detainees there wanted them to come back. I’m certain that many would jump at the chance to transfer to GTMO.

    I’m having a hard time imagining how I would react to such a hopeless situation.

    Actus, you don’t have to worry about it… me and mine will die before you are put in that position by jihadists. Stay out of trouble with our own laws and you’ll be just fine.

    Stashiu3 (0da7ed)

  26. I can’t even say that bothers me

    And yet, people got all in a huff over asymetric warfare stunts.

    Are you saying the “worst case types” should have hope that they will be let go?

    I don’t think they have any reason to hope being let go.

    actus (10527e)

  27. Yes, but do you think they should have the hope that they will be let go?

    Polymer (6946e1)

  28. Actus, re: the detainees.

    If the war decisively ends, they’ll be let go. A year or two later.

    In World War 2, German prisoners were let go in stages, mostly from 1946 to, if memory serves me correct, 1948. Their conditions were far worse than the GTMO detainees. Not on purpose, but due to necessity because of the massive food and supply shortages brought on by the war.

    This sucked, I’m sure, but it was necessary. War isn’t about what’s fun for your enemy or even yourself. It’s about doing what needs to be done so your people can be safe, free, and have a chance to live their lives in happiness.

    The United States is unique in human history in that, this last century at least, it tends to conquer foreign countries that threaten it then give them back.

    Provided the other country becomes free, chooses their own leaders (who often go on to criticize or oppose parts of U.S. policy), the United States is satisfied because they know that free Democratic nations are much less likely to attack it and the U.S. believes in freedom for its own sake.

    What other great power in history has done this?

    The U.S. is so far from perfect. I criticize it routinely. But damnit, if they win, my friend in Baghdad gets to vote and live her life and pursue her career, maybe even fulfill her dream to travel out of the country and see South Africa. If the U.S. loses and loses in a big way, you or those that come after you will not be free and will be forced to live as dhimini if not actual forced converts.

    Their is a real difference here. Get on board the right side.

    Christoph (9824e6)

  29. Their is a real difference here. Get on board the right side.

    Let me tell you this. If you’re not mad as hell at this stuff, you’re not on the right side. Becuase this isn’t helping your friend travel to south africa. It’s preventing that.

    actus (10527e)

  30. actus:

    I don’t think they have any reason to hope being let go.

    Yes, but do you think they should have the hope that they will be let go?

    Polymer (6946e1)

  31. Yes, but do you think they should have the hope that they will be let go?

    No. Because they won’t be let go. Someone said they can be let go a year or two after the war ends. I don’t think the war on terror will ever end.

    actus (10527e)

  32. Should they be let go?

    Polymer (6946e1)

  33. I’m a mad about mismanagement of large parts of the war and recovery effort?

    Sure.

    However, large parts of World War 2 were mismanaged as well, sometimes disastrously so. This caused numerous losses for everyone concerned including my country as at Dieppe.

    There was probably unnecessary starvation in Germany after the war due to some of this mismanagement.

    But my problems with bureaucracy and cronyism notwithstanding, there’s a bigger picture here. This is a civizational war. In other words, if we lose it our civilization is weakened or in some countries at least, destroyed and conquered.

    Our civilization allows us to have blog discussions debating each other. Theirs kills women who go to picnics with their fiancé.

    Prioritize.

    Christoph (9824e6)

  34. they won’t be let go.

    Should they be let go?

    Polymer (6946e1)

  35. Wow, that wasn’t slanted as all get-out (/sarc)

    I call bullsh*t. And off-topic. Strawman.

    Is there anyone who wants to second?

    Stashiu3 (0da7ed)

  36. Should they be let go?

    It wouldn’t surprise me if some should — say, the innocents. And others should not.

    Prioritize.

    Absoutely. Billions wasted, inexperience ruining a reconstruction in “the central front in the war on terror” vs. a few hunger strikers. Prioritize.

    actus (10527e)

  37. I meant the Actus link, btw.

    Stashiu3 (0da7ed)

  38. I call bullsh*t. And off-topic. Strawman.

    Someone mentioned me getting on the right side. I used the article to show that I am. But you think the article is a lie?

    actus (10527e)

  39. Yes, innocent people should not be confined. And the guilty should.

    Can you elaborate on this?

    Polymer (6946e1)

  40. Can you elaborate on this?

    Its really that simple. People who say that gitmo is for the guity re lying, because innocents have been held there. They should be let go. But not the others. Those just stay there without hope. Forever. Even though we are victimized by their asymetrical warfare stunts. I think we can stand that.

    actus (10527e)

  41. Yes, the article is a politically-spun hatchet job… and a transparent one. Reports perceptions and assumptions as fact as long as it reflects negatively on our efforts.

    The reason it is a strawman is that the original post didn’t have anything to do with efforts in Iraq… it was about Guantanamo. The comment referring to getting on the right side was directed with that issue in mind. You then change the topic, refute the argument based on your change, and never address the original question. That is a strawman.

    Stashiu3 (0da7ed)

  42. So you support the continued existance of Gitmo for holding the guilty?

    Polymer (6946e1)

  43. So, you support the continued existance of Gitmo for holding the guilty?

    Polymer (6946e1)

  44. So you support the continued existance of Gitmo for holding the guilty?

    I do think they should be held. I have no idea if Gitmo is where it should happen.

    Yes, the article is a politically-spun hatchet job… and a transparent one.

    It took me longer than 7 minutes to read it. But 7 minutes after I posted it you had made up your mind about it. There is a whole book being published. Perhaps it will have more supporting material.

    The comment referring to getting on the right side was directed with that issue in mind.

    I know. And I think its fair to point out that I am on the right side by showing my concern for the central front on the war on terror. Or do you deny that Iraq is the central front of the war on terror? Either we win there, or lose at home.

    actus (10527e)

  45. I do think they should be held. I have no idea if Gitmo is where it should happen.

    So it sounds like you have no strong objections to Gitmo.

    Polymer (6946e1)

  46. So it sounds like you have no strong objections to Gitmo.

    I strongly object to this.

    actus (10527e)

  47. Yes, an incident like that is bad. But an incident is not an institution. It sounds like you have no objection to the existence of Gitmo.

    Polymer (6946e1)

  48. For fuck sakes, Actus, everyone objects to that. It’s objectionable. Being a U.S. soldier doesn’t, and never has, guaranteed that the person charged with this responsibility won’t commit objectionable acts.

    By your standards, because your civilians and soldiers aren’t perfect, it’s wrong to win a war. Against people whom, in the millions, want to cut off heads and kill civilians until our nations are cowed, our women veiled and/or beaten, and our men fearful servants of their medieval religious elders.

    You really aren’t worth talking to. YOU are part of the problem. In the right context, you might very well be an enemy. I mean that as it sounds.

    Just closing the open HTML tag (9824e6)

  49. Of course, the above, was by “Christoph”

    Christoph (9824e6)

  50. It sounds like you have no objection to the existence of Gitmo.

    AFAIK, post-Hamdan, parts of it I would object to would get taken care of.

    actus (10527e)

  51. AFAIK, post-Hamdan, parts of it I would object to would get taken care of.

    This is not clear. Please clarify.

    Polymer (6946e1)

  52. Damnit, when I was a soldier I was once threatened by an abusive corporal who was my superior and he had a clique that followed him. I went to my barracks to sleep with a bayonet under my pillow bound and determined that if it come down to it, I’d fight the bastard.

    He was an awful person. A quasi-satanist. The turd had, literally, once barricaded himself in his house over a breakup with a girl and the Emergency Response team had to talk him out.

    I can’t remember how it happened, probably another soldier, but an officer woke me up that night and asked me what was going on, I said there were some problems, but I’d be fine, he asked me whether I was fearful for my life, and I said I was concerned after all and had taken the step of arming myself even while sleeping.

    He took the reasonable assumption that if a soldier is sleeping with a bayonet in his bed there is a problem, I was pulled from barracks, and it was all sorted out later.

    Anyway, not really proud of that whole story, but whatever. Shit happens. There are assholes, sadists, and criminals in various places including the military.

    That doesn’t change the fact that the majority of people I served with were decent men and women, in many cases better than myself, and what my country STANDS FOR is good.

    It was a Canadian officer, indeed, who took the initiative to sort that out, fortunately. I don’t doubt that I could have defeated him, or had a reasonable chance, if he didn’t cold cock me while I was sleeping, which is what I was afraid of. But ending the way it did was better.

    Ultimately, though, how does that guy being an a-hole unstable freak change the fact that my country’s mission in Afghanistan is noble? And that I respect the men and women there? Hell, I respect the Tim Horton’s crew.

    Prioritize, Actus… this isn’t your strong point.

    Christoph (9824e6)

  53. This is not clear. Please clarify.

    I believe now they have access to some legal process and standard for how they are to be treated.

    Prioritize, Actus… this isn’t your strong point.

    I understand. Tim Hortons. And Billions on reconstruction at the “central front of the war on terror” must be prioritized.

    actus (10527e)

  54. You’re an asshole, Actus. The enemy must be defeated before bureaucratic perfection is achieved. No country achieves this in peacetime and finding a large number of people who have “experience” in rebuilding war torn countries that are fighting active insurgencies is asking a bit much.

    I’m happy you have people that are willing to learn and do.

    Anyway, you’re a jerk, personally, and I spit on the ground you’re about to walk on.

    Christoph (9824e6)

  55. I believe now they have access to some legal process and standard for how they are to be treated.

    Yes they do. I see this is what was necessary for you to contribute your support of and for Gitmo. Consider your support noted.

    Polymer (6946e1)

  56. It took me longer than 7 minutes to read it. But 7 minutes after I posted it you had made up your mind about it.

    You must be a slow reader as well as dense. Good on ya.

    Stashiu3 (404f9e)

  57. I believe now they have access to some legal process and standard for how they are to be treated.

    No, they don’t. That’s what Bush is asking Congress for.

    Pablo (08e1e8)

  58. I’d find those conditions intolerable. Would you?

    What specifically that the suicidees were likely subjected to is intolerable?

    If you’re not mad as hell at this stuff, you’re not on the right side.

    How does that relate to this discussion?

    I strongly object to this.

    How does that relate to this discussion?

    Gerald A (bdfba2)

  59. it seems to me that referring to these suicides as a “publicity stunt” is itself defensive spin doctoring. a dignified silence would have been better.

    assistant devil's advocate (c6012c)

  60. Shorter Patterico: Committing suicide to protest being held without charges or an opportunity to show one’s innocence is an act of war. The Tibetan monks who set themselves aflame outside Chinese embassies are morally equivalent to terrorists.

    [Shorter Kimmitt: I don’t understand the difference between mere war protestors and the enemy. — P]

    Kimmitt (80218d)

  61. Consider your support noted.

    Comment by Polymer

    What are you?

    actus (10527e)

  62. Voice overheard in Kimmitt’s mind: “Man, I wish the US Government would stop locking up all those clearly innocent brown people in Gitmo. If only they had civil trials, the government could see the folly in their fascism!”

    OHNOES (f1189a)

  63. I am a commenter

    Polymer (6946e1)

  64. […] If we’re going to make good judgments about how to structure military tribunals for detainees at Guantánamo, we need to have good information about what’s going on there. Pieces like the recent New York Times Magazine article and Taranto’s piece provide valuable insights into the reality of Guantánamo. (For what it’s worth, I’m currently working on a project that I hope will contribute in some small way to the public’s understanding of Guantánamo. Stay tuned over the next few days.) […]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » Taranto on Life Inside Guantánamo Bay (421107)

  65. […] Yeah, it is obvious that the terrorists we captured more than four years ago can no longer have any information which is fresh and actionable. What my friend LA doesn’t seem to realize, however, is that they are apparently no longer being interrogated. Perhaps he missed the major article in The New York Times Review of Books detailing the current conditions at Guantanamo, an article sparked by the three suicides last summer. (Patterico has the best report on the article.) The US is trying to create reasonable conditions to secure dangerour prisoners at Guantanamo, and is providing them with some creature comforts, but interrogation is no longer part of the process. […]

    Common Sense Political Thought » Blog Archives » Telepathy (819604)

  66. […] I asked about the recent New York Times Magazine article about Guantánamo, which provided an in-depth look at the hunger strikes and suicide attempts. (I linked to and excerpted heavily from that article in this post.) The article, which was based on interviews with numerous people at Guantánamo, made several points, including these: […]

    Never Yet Melted » Interviews with a Guantánamo Staff Nurse (1dac5b)

  67. […] To get the prison shut down. A little more evidence for something we already suspected was true. The advisor, who cannot be identified because of military rules and concerns for his family’s safety, attributes the suicides to a misguided rumor that an act of martyrdom would result in the rest of Guantanamo’s prisoners being freed. […]

    Hot Air » Blog Archive » Gitmo’s “cultural advisor” confirms: Suicides were a publicity stunt (d4224a)

  68. Good riddance! I can’t help but hope for more islamic cult worshipers to meet the same fate.

    Highrise (7c31bf)

  69. Admiral Harris has repeatedly said that “there are no innocent men in Guantanamo”. Either he is a shameless bald-faced liar, or he hasn’t bothered to be briefed on who his captives are. I have read many of the transcripts of the captive’s Combatant Status Review Tribunals. I challenge any fair minded person to read a few transcripts and walk away without some doubts about the official claims about the detainees. I don’t believe it would be possible for any fair minded person to read a dozen transcripts and fail to admit they read some transcripts that were clearly the transcripts of innocent men.

    I know the US Armed Services contains many honorable officers, who will do their duty to the Constitution and the principles America stands for. Charles Swift gave his client the best legal defense he could. The USA should be proud of him.

    Carrie Wolf, Robert Preston, and John Carr had volunteered to serve on the prosecution team during the first iteration of the Guantanamo military commissions. But, when they found that the first chief Prosecutor promised them that the commissions would be rigged, that the Commission members would be handpicked so they would be sure to convict, that evidence that would clear the suspects would be classified top secret, so it wouldn’t be available to the Defense team, they heroically stood on principle, and asked for reassignment.

    Their resignation letters were leaked a year and a half ago.
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200508/s1426797.htm
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200508/s1428749.htm

    If you read the transcripts you will find captives who, after years of detention, have faced multiple, incompatible accusations, nonsensical accusations.

    There are a dozen or so Guantanamo captives who were prisoners of the Taliban prior to their handover to the USA by Afghan bounty hunters. These guys face allegations for participation in suspect activities when they say they were in Taliban prisons. You’d think that serving time in a Taliban prison would be an airtight alibi, wouldn’t you?

    But, not under Guantanamo justice.

    Or consider the case of Abdullah Khan. Khan was an Uzbek, not even the same ethnic group, language group, or branch of Islam as the Taliban. He was denounced for a bounty in 2003. His denouncer told some credulous Americans that Khan was a very well known Afghani named Khirullah Khairkhwa.

    Khairkhwa was a former Police officer under the Rabbani government — the coalition that was nominally in charge from the ouster of the communists until the Taliban’s capture of Kabul. The Taliban employed him to read their press releases to the BBC and the Voice of America. A year and a bit before they fell Khairkhwa was appointed Governor of the Province of Herat.

    Presumably a former Taliban Provincial Governor nets the bounty hunter a much bigger bounty than an anonymous Taliban conscript.

    Did the Americans review the videotapes of Khairkhwa’s broadcasts, to make sure they had the right guy, prior to taking him into custody, and paying out the bounty?

    Nope.

    Did they check to see if Khairkhwa was already in custody?

    Nope.

    Khan told his Tribunal that his interrogators kept insisting he was lying about his identity. They kept insisting they knew he was really Khirullah Khairkhwa.

    When Khairkhwa arrived in Guantanamo the interrogators there also insisted he was really Khirullah Khairkhwa. But other captives soon told him that the real Khirullah Khairkhwa had been held in Guantanamo for over a year. He was in another section of the camp.

    Khairkhwa told his Tribunal that he kept begging his interrogators to check the prison roster, so they could see for themselves that he was telling the truth — that he really was not Khirullah Khairkhwa former Governor and former Taliban spokesman.

    Khan told his Tribunal that his interrogators couldn’t be bothered to take the simple, obvious step of checking the prison roster.

    I know many people are not as concerned as I am over the fundamental injustice of this story. To those people I would like to point out how holding innocent men, relying on false confessions coerced from innocent men makes us all less safe.

    None of us wants to see innocent civilians get killed or injured in terrorist sneak attacks. We all want to see our governments take the most sensible precautions. They should do this based on professional, sensible, sober, unemotional analysis of credible intelligence.

    Abdullah Khan’s case shows us that Guantanamo does not have professional, unemotional intelligence analysts. Guantanamo has amateurish, lazy, malicious, poorly informed intelligence analysts, who aren’t really concerned whether the “invaluable intelligence” they report is correct.

    We are all less safe if those who allocate our counter-terrorism resources base their decisions on the unreliable intelligence flowing from Guantanamo. Better to have no intelligence than to rely on false intelligence.

    The Guantanamo detainment camps cost over $100 billion a year to keep open. That is close to a million bucks per captive. Yet the DoD couldn’t allocate a few thousand bucks per detainee to check out their alibis? That is completely insane.

    In contrast to honorable, principled officers, like Swift, Wolf, Preston and Carr, Admiral Harris is a cowardly toady. A few months ago he was defending the line that adversarial, coercive interrogation was the correct approach. Then last month Admiral Harris did a 100% reversal. He defended the bonding, rapport-building approach to interrogation — the approach that he had previously mocked.

    Geoff (52ce8f)

  70. In a truly harsh prison environment, a suicide could be prompted by preference of a quick death to a slower over a more painful one. Such conditions were described in detail in The Gulag Archipelego by a man who was there.

    But while the practitioners of hyperbole on the Left do use the word ‘gulag’ to describe Gitmo, the misuse of the is an affront to the millions who died as a result of Stalinist whim and paranoia. The Nazi and Soviet death camps exterminate persons who seldom posed any threat to the respective regimes. Germans generally treated prisoners of war properly. An exception was made for Red army captives, but the Soviets were similary brutal with their repatriated POWs.

    While some allied soldiers went on risky opertions that turned out be be almost suicidal (as at Dieppe) the goal was to return. The Kamikaze approach was an oriental concept tjat prived unattractive to Germans at the close of their theater of the war.

    Yet the use of suicide as a mode of warfare by our current enemies dishonors the spirit of the Kamikaze pilots. They flew against armed enemies and sought out military targets. They did not disguise their aircraft. Their actions werre honorable.

    The fanatical and superstitious vermin we must deal with in the current conflict know of honor only in a perverse and distorted mutation of the concept. It encompasses the flogging of a rape victim as well as the murder of unarmed innocents to make mass murder into a political statement.

    We may not be able to comprehend such a mindset within our sphere of experience. We need to know our enemy and treat him appropriately.

    Arthur Downs (c36902)


Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.3754 secs.