Mo Gitmo

I found the article When Gitmo Was Relatively Good in this past Sunday’s Washington Post to be about as fair and balanced as one could expect at the end of Obama’s first week in office. It recounts the efforts of Joint Task Force 160 and Marine Brig. Gen. Michael Lehnert to stand up Gitmo in a matter of days shortly after September 11, 2001.

It speaks of the decision, against administration wishes, to bring in representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). It quotes the head of the detention unit as saying “The Geneva Conventions don’t officially apply, but they do apply.”  Huh? The article cites that kind of ambiguity in several places.

The article speaks of Navy Lt. Abuhena M. Saifulisalam, a Bangladeshi American imam and Muslim chaplain. It speaks of hunger strikes and suggests that perhaps Lehnert may have promised detainees speedy trials in exchange for food intake. It may be that Lehnert had no real business offering that quid pro quo, but we don’t know what he was told and the article does not state.

The article indicates Lehnert was relieved of his Guantanamo duty by Donald Rumsfeld in order to create a Guantanamo that focused on interrogations. This is the Guantanamo that “appalled the world”.

For all the talk about the Geneva Conventions requirements, the article lists two that could not obviously be implemented (although I am not sure why this is so obvious):

  • The right to musical instruments.
  • The right to work for payment.

And there is this Top Myths About the Closing of Guantanamo from Think Progress that attempts to dispel a number of “myths” about Guantanamo. Never mind that some of these myths are stated in the form of suggestion, such as


What kind of muckraking moron writes this as a myth? Oh, I notice that Think Progress is part of the Center for American Progress. That explains it. Here is another myth


And here is the case that dispels the myth

Conservatives often try to argue that life at Guantanamo is just fine. Reacting to Obama’s executive order, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) said that detainees there receive “more comforts than a lot of Americans get.” In December, Vice President Cheney argued that Guantanamo “has been very well run.” Neither of these claims are true. The Washington Post recently revealed that the top Bush administration official in charge of deciding whether to prosecute detainees concluded that Mohammed al-Qahtani was tortured by the U.S. military at Guantanamo. The detention center was so poorly run that Obama administration officials are now finding out that Bush officials never kept comprehensive case files on many detainees.

Well, I suspect that Guantanamo is not a happy place to be. Nor should it be. One complaint is that Bush officials did not keep comprehensive files on many detainees. What is meant by “Bush officials”? Political appointees are responsible for Gitmo? Or is this just a muckraker’s way of saying “the armed forces”? Are at least some files kept on all detainees? What does “comprehensive” mean? What does “many” mean?

And another complaint is that “the top Bush administration official in charge of deciding whether to prosecute detainees concluded that Mohammed al-Qahtani was tortured by the U.S. military”. Well, as I have written before, the official found that the techniques “were all authorized”, “persistent”, and were “clearly coercive”. The problem was that the authorized techniques were applied over and over again and so were coercive. But isn’t that the point of interrogation?

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