GTMO Narrative Meets Reality

In today’s Washington Post, there is a letter to the editor from Helen Schietinger of Washington.

Regarding the Feb. 16 front-page story “4 Cases Illustrate Guantanamo Quandaries”:

The most glaring Guantanamo quandary involves President Obama’s not immediately putting an end to the abuses by U.S. personnel that led to worldwide outrage about the prison in the first place. According to defense lawyers visiting the base, nothing is different about treatment of prisoners under the new administration, and the weeks are going by.

For example, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), Mohammed Khan Tumani, who was detained seven years ago at age 17 and has been cleared for release, is being kept in solitary confinement. Because he recently attempted suicide and appears to have deteriorated mentally, the CCR has requested an emergency psychiatric evaluation and an improvement in his conditions of detention, but the government has not responded. Other prisoners report that he bangs his head against the wall and smears his cell with excrement.

Instead of appointing human rights investigators or the International Committee of the Red Cross or the Justice Department to investigate prison conditions, President Obama assigned Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, head of the agency responsible for the alleged abuses, to see what’s happening and report to him in 30 days.

What do you suppose that report, due next week, will say about the treatment of prisoners? And what will the president do then? Where’s the change, Mr. President?

I wonder if Ms. Schietinger’s pique is bumping against a reality. By calling for “immediately putting an end to the abuses by U.S. personnel that led to worldwide outrage…” she suggests that the detainees at GTMO are subject to constant abuses even today. This is the left’s narrative of GTMO. I suspect, but cannot prove, that the conditions of GTMO are actually quite good. From the perspective of food, TV, exercise, cleanliness, worship, medical care, and freedom from gang and sexual violence, I suspect that GTMO is actually one of the best incarceration facilities in the world.

Does it dawn on Ms. Schietinger that maybe the reason why Obama has not put an immediate end to horrible, terrible abuses is that, in fact, there are no horrible, terrible abuses? Yes, it is true that the detainees are still detained. Yes, detainees have not been charged as though they were in violation of criminal statute. But, after all, the article that motivated Ms. Schietinger to write spoke of quandaries. Maybe there really are such things as quandaries.

Are Quandaries Real?

Are Quandaries Real?

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