Don't cry for detainees at Guantanamo
By DEROY MURDOCK
SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE
NEW YORK -- While Newsweek has retracted its deadly tall tale about interrogators shoving the Koran down a toilet to rattle Guantanamo detainees, the magazine's "flush to judgment" (in the New York Post's words) fits what Manhattan Institute scholar Heather MacDonald calls the prevailing "torture narrative."
Possibly harmless Muslims languish without trial in U.S. custody. America's soul dies a little as each GI's sucker-punch shatters one more Arab's jaw. Yadda, yadda, yadda.
"You people are no better than and no different than the Nazi concentration camp guards," a Red Cross representative said in April at a U.S. detention facility in Iraq, according to a Pentagon source quoted in a May 23 Wall Street Journal editorial. Amnesty International last week called Gitmo "the Gulag of our times."
Journalists and Bushophobes should stop crying for these Islamo-fascists long enough to read a largely overlooked Pentagon document on Guantanamo detainees. They appear pampered, chatty and dangerous.
"Americans are very kind people," one English-challenged detainee said in the March 4 paper. "If people say there is mistreatment in Cuba with the detainees, those type speaking are wrong, they treat us like a Muslim not a detainee."
"I'm in good health and have good facilities of eating, drinking, living, and playing," remarked another. "The food is good, the bedrooms are clean and the health care is very good."
In a Feb. 16 Gitmo dispatch, the American Forces Press Service's Kathleen Rhem described the treatment of Camp Delta's roughly 520 detainees from about 40 nations. Troublemakers wear prison-style orange jumpsuits and mainly are confined to rudimentary accommodations. But those who follow camp rules wear white outfits and exercise seven to nine hours daily, often playing soccer and volleyball. In quieter moments, "chess, checkers and playing cards are the most requested items," Rhem wrote. As for reading, "A security official explained Agatha Christie books in Arabic are very popular and that camp officials are working to get copies of Harry Potter books in Arabic."
Detainees eat culturally sensitive meals and follow arrows painted on dorm floors to face Mecca. "Prayer calls are broadcast over loudspeakers five times a day," Rhem added.
Such conditions may have loosened tongues. The report -- drearily titled "JTF-GITMO Information on Detainees" -- explains that interrogating these men "has expanded our understanding of Al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations and continues to prove valuable." (defenselink.mil/news/detainees.html) Among these findings:
UDetainees "provide useful information on locations of training compounds and safe houses, terrain features, travel patterns and routes used for smuggling people and equipment, as well as for identifying potential supporters and opponents." U.S. questioning has "expanded our understanding of the extent of their presence in Europe (and) the United States ..."
U"Detainees provide information that helps sort out legitimate financial activity from illegitimate terrorist financing operations," the report says.
UOne detainee "identified a complex detonation system ... that had been used in the Chechen conflict, and now is being used on IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) in Iraq, helping U.S. forces to combat this lethal weapon."
Despite this apparent cooperation, enemy combatants remain viciously anti-American and dedicated to mayhem, even after release.
U"I will arrange for the kidnapping and execution of U.S. citizens living in Saudi Arabia," one detainee threatened, if freed. "They will have their heads cut off."
U"There is no need to ask for forgiveness for killing a Jew," another said. "Israel should not exist and be removed from Palestine."
UOne detainee reportedly warned that "upon his release from GTMO, he would use the Internet to search for the names and faces of MPs so that he could kill them."
Among 167 detainees freed from Guantanamo, the Pentagon has identified "about 12" who have resumed terrorist operations. Last October, two Chinese engineers were kidnapped in Pakistan. "Former detainee Abdullah Mahsud, their reputed leader, ordered the kidnapping," the report states.
"Another released detainee assassinated an Afghan judge," the document continues. "Several former GTMO detainees have been killed in combat with U.S. soldiers and Coalition forces."
So, Osama bin Laden's buddies find Gitmo relatively comfortable. They provide intelligence that helps U.S. and European soldiers, spies, and cops keep themselves and us alive. Meanwhile, many detainees ache to get out, so they can kill Americans.
That's the Pentagon's story, anyway. They have yet to retract it.
X Deroy Murdock is a columnist with Scripps Howard News Service and a senior fellow with the Atlas Economic Research Foundation in Fairfax, Va.