Archive for January, 2009

Close Guantanamo? Grass Roots and Political Pressure Says Maybe Not

January 31, 2009

Organizations like Move America Forward have visited Guantanamo and returned to launch a campaign to keep the facility open. This is just the latest in a rising public outcry against hasty closure of a facility that supporters say will endanger America. “Keep Gitmo open, and keep the terrorists behind bars,” MAF says.

MAF leaders like Melanie Morgan and Cat Moy (co-authors of the excellent book, American Mourning) have recently visited Gitmo on a support-the-troops mission.

As readers of this space have seen, bipartisan political pressure is mounting both from a “not in my backyard” standpoint and as an issue of national security to encourage President Obama to think long and hard about alternatives to relocation of detainees onto US soil.

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Another Former Guantanamo Detainee Beats System

January 29, 2009

In an article by AP writer Andrew Selsky, a frequent commentator on Guantanamo, he documents the return to the fight of yet another Guantanamo detainee. Calling himself Muhammad Atik al Harbi, ISN #333, while at Gitmo, the returned terrorist has been identified by his real name, Abu al-Hareth Muhammad al-Oufi.

Selsky notes that this consistent pattern of recidivism that characterizes freed Gitmo detainees “underscores the dilemma Barack Obama’s administration finds itself in: Keeping men locked up without trials invites global criticism but releasing them without a fair and diligent process to distinguish enemies from noncombatants exposes the U.S. and its allies to danger. It also shows how hard it is to separate truth from lies.”

Al-Oufi was successful in selling his cover story to military legal boards. He claimed to have been in Afghanistan only to “assist refugees” and had no connection to al Qaeda or the Taliban, and that he was sold “for a bounty” to US authorities by Afghanis who held a grudge against him.

Despite such protestations, it is apparent that many detainees are returning to fight against the West. We continue to treat these people as if they are ordinary criminals at our peril.

Guantanamo Detainees Regularly Attack Medics and Guards

January 28, 2009

Something I’ve learned few Americans realize is that those who are subject to the most abuse at Guantanamo are not the detainees but the medics and guards who serve them.

This shocking state of affairs has been largely under-reported by media whose focus remains on unsubstantiated tales of torture generated primarily from released detainees and attorneys who represent them.

Much of my motivation for producing the book Inside Gitmo: The True Story behind the Myths of Guantanamo Bay was a need to inform the American public of what exactly is happening to their sons and daughters as they walk the blocks of the Gitmo detention facility daily.

You’ll find these stories and more in the book:

– A young female Navy medic who was asked to approach a detainee she had treated in the past. The man grabbed her head, smashed her face against the bars, and inflicted such damage that she has had 16 reconstructive plastic surgeries on her face.

– A female nurse who while treating a detainee in the hospital was punched so hard that it fractured her nose. The detainee then shouted that “this infidel whore’s blood has defiled me. Bring me fresh clothes!”

– Guards who have a noxious “cocktail” of feces, urine, semen, spit, and vomit flung into their faces and who then clean themselves, change into fresh uniforms, and resume their duties rather than let their buddies down by taking time off.

– More than 400 attacks on guards and medics occur annually.

– Detainee plots to kill guards, and how one attack came perilously close to success.

– Riots in the hospital in which medical personnel were threatened with death.

– A returning National Guard soldier who is too embarrassed to tell his friends where he served because the reputations of soldiers at Guantanamo has been so slandered.

Do these stories anger you? They should. Levels of PTSD from soldiers and sailors returning from a tour at Guantanamo are off the charts. Vicious characterization of their mission adds materially to their stress levels.

Learn the true story of what happens Inside Gitmo.

Let us all be fully informed and put a stop to these outrageous stories about our service members. That way we can all support these brave men and women who perform difficult, thankless duty to keep us safe.

Release Gitmo Detainees? – Terrorists Kill Daniel Pearl over Demands

January 25, 2009

Can it happen here? In the grotesque terrorist video of the beheading of Wall Street Journalist Daniel Pearl – an act of barbarism for which Guantanamo detainee Khalid Sheik Mohammad takes full credit – part of the terrorists’ demands was that Gitmo detainees be released.

“With this beloved right hand I took the head from the Jew, Daniel Pearl,” KSM said in a 58-page deposition that was filed as part of the trial of Moroccan terrorist Zacharias Moussaoui. The full deposition is available on the Inside Gitmo site.

Numerous articles cite terrorist attacks as motivated by a release of the detainees.

Relocation of Guantanamo detainees to US soil, a prospect viewed by some analysts as a virtual certainty given President Obama’s executive orders to close the facility, will place American communities in dire jeopardy.

How dangerous are these men, and what lengths will they employ to carry out their deadly mission?

Be informed. Order your copy of Inside Gitmo today before elected officials make decisions they – and the American public – will come to regret.

Guantanamo Detainees in Pennsylvania? Sure, Says Rep Murtha

January 22, 2009

Congressman Jack Murtha repays constituent loyalty by his willingness to bring Gitmo detainees into Pennsylvania.

“Sure, I’d take ’em,” said Murtha, an outspoken critic of the Iraq war. “They’re no more dangerous in my district than in Guantanamo.”

Murtha’s shocking comments were included in an article by Fox News Chad Pergram today.

With public concerns beginning to mount over relocating Guantanamo detainees onto US soil, his announcement is guaranteed to be a bombshell announcement for unsuspecting Pennsylvania citizenry.

How sad that the state that just honored the United Flight 93 passengers who took over their hijacked aircraft and thereby thwarted a more serious attack in addition to the horror of 9/11 are subject to such idiocy.

We can only hope that Pennsylvanians rally to reject this mad proposal.

Guantanamo Detainees Want Trials to Continue – Suspend, Says Obama Team

January 21, 2009

Guantanamo has been a controversy filled with ironies. Perhaps one of the most interesting is today’s statement by terrorist mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammad, quoted in an article by AP writer Ben Fox. KSM vigorously opposes President Obama’s request to the military prosecutor (the prosecutor immediately agreed) to suspend all military tribunal action for 120 days.

“We should continue so we don’t go backward, we go forward,” Fox quoted Mohammed as saying.

Gitmo defense attorneys agree with KSM, with the additional irony that they want charges dismissed, while he want to continue trial so he can be found guilty and executed. Martyrdom, KMS has publicly stated, is his ultimate, long-time goal.

Information leaking from the Obama White House indicates that ultimate decisions on how to proceed with Guantanamo may now take up to a year or longer.

With inflammatory options on the table such as release of detainees into the US or relocation of detainees into places like Leavenworth, Kansas, the debate will grow considerably more heated before ultimate resolution.

As talk show host Greg Allen (host, The Right Balance) said to me on air with host John Loftus last night, “When my children’s safety is at stake, the debate ends.”

Americans need to be fully informed of the dangerous implications of these decisions and weigh in with elected officials soon.

Close Gitmo Now? Even Obama Supporters Wonder Out Loud

January 19, 2009

With pre-Inaugural frenzy in the air, expectations among ordinarily faithful Obama supporters shows signs of cracks. Among his followers each has an agenda – and each thinks his agenda ought to be on the top of the incoming president-elect’s In box.

We hear special interests voice their demands daily: the homosexual community wants a repeal of ‘don’t ask; don’t tell‘ in the military, greens want a transformed America to suit their desires, labor expects NAFTA to be repealed, illegal immigrants want blanket amnesty, peace activists want the US out of Iraq. Everybody wants something.

The anti-Guantanamo crowd is demanding an immediate closure of the detention facility and rapid resolution of the fates of the men confined there. But by tomorrow afternoon Mr. Obama will “own” Guantanamo, and even his most loyal followers are beginning to realize that ownership means responsibility.

An AP article yesterday from writer William J. Kole titled “As challenges mount, ardor for Obama cools abroad,” points out that global expectations for Obama, which have been set to unrealistically high levels, are already tempered. Among them is the idea that Gitmo can be shuttered overnight.

“Even items on Obama’s agenda that initially seemed straightforward are turning out to be fraught with complications,” Kole wrote, “such as closing Guantanamo in eastern Cuba. Obama has hinted that it may be his first executive order — but experts say it could take a year to accomplish.”

Kole cites Reginald Dale, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, an institution normally firmly in sync with Obama’s agenda: “People everywhere simply expect too much, practically ensuring Obama will disappoint.”

How might they be disappointed in his Guantanamo decision?

Dale is quoted as saying “There are all sorts of logistical questions. What if they suddenly captured Osama bin Laden? Where would they put him? It’s very easy for people abroad to take these issues as symbols of what they think is wrong with America. They need to understand the Americans don’t like these things any more than they do.”

Maybe many Americans don’t like the idea of Guantanamo. Few among us do. But Americans are also fully cognizant of the danger posed by too-rapid decision making that might lead to release or relocation of these terrorists onto US soil. They overwhelmingly would prefer to have them safe and distant in Guantanamo than among the US population in jail or released into society.

In that regard, the American people are much more savvy about their own security than distant critics.

A month or so ago, on a Fox News panel Roll Call editor Mort Kondracke said that he “expects Obama’s honeymoon will last up to two years.” In this environment of over-heated, unrealistic expectations Mr. Obama will be fortunate to make it through February unscathed.

Particularly galling for the Obama team will be that the most virulent criticism is going to emerge from its own base.

Guantanamo Abuses: The Grey Lady Weeps

January 18, 2009

In a New York Times editorial headlined “Closing Guantanamo,” editors moan, “We certainly would like to forget the horrors of the last eight years.” While one might correctly assume they refer to the precipitate decline in readership and stock value of the Times, no, they are taking about Guantanamo Bay’s detention facility.

Having led the pack in decrying torture and abuse allegedly occurring at Gitmo, Times editorial writers perhaps unwittingly point out their own deficiencies. “But you cannot fix something before you know exactly how it is broken.” That has been the Times’ and other critics’ problem from the outset: lack of knowledge, often intentional and always self-deceptive.

They simply didn’t take the time and effort to see for themselves, and when they looked, donned glasses clouded by partisanship and suspicion.

Times’ logic is the result of flawed syllogism. Holding a false assumption from the outset – inspired in no small part by pathological loathing for anything done by George Bush and Dick Cheney – contributes mightily to inevitable false conclusions.

By assuming the worse – and crediting it to what it considers flawed administration policy – they were bound by their own ignorance to develop erroneous conclusions.

Inside Gitmo researchers spared no pain in uncovering reports from the FBI and other sources that proved highly embarrassing – not to say damning  – to unqualified defenders of the detention facility. These reports are included in toto in the companion web site for all to see for themselves.

We also found out the truth – and recounted it as completely as possible – about who is confined at Gitmo, and why. And learned and reported the facts of daily life inside the wire.

By exposing and reporting honestly on the isolated of abuse that did occur in a very limited time period, Inside Gitmo sticks to factual evidence and avoids falling into the “condemn all; praise all” intellectual quicksand that typifies Guantanamo reporting.

The implications implicit in the Times and other critics position – that confirmed terrorists should be released or transferred back to revolving-door foreign judicial systems – ought to be chilling for all Americans.

You need to be fully informed today about the consequences of blanket release or transfer of dangerous detainees before misinformed or agenda-driven politicians and advocacy groups force decisions we will later sorely regret.

Guantanamo Judge’s Torture Call Taints Entire Facility

January 17, 2009

Predictably, Judge Susan Crawford’s decision that the abusive treatment inflicted on one Gitmo detainee – Mohammad al Qahtani – in fall of 2002 fit her definition of “torture” has reinforced widely held perceptions that the entire operation is a torture factory.

By her judgment that al Qahtani was tortured, Crawford allowed anti-Guantanamo critics to paint with a broad brush. They leapt upon her statement to assume that all detainees have been tortured and demand release upon those grounds.

In today’s LA Times, perennial Gitmo critic Carol Williams notes that defense attorneys now call for all charges to be dropped because some of the 22 men now awaiting trial were tortured.

It is a short step between insisting charges be dropped and demanding outright release.

That some of these men in the docket are among the most brilliant, efficient terrorists in history is a salient fact that seems to elude those who are eager to condemn the US for the existence of Guantanamo.

Opponents “urged [Crawford] to clear the controversial court’s slate before the Tuesday inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama, who has vowed to shut Guantanamo as one of his first actions,” Williams noted.

Obama, who readers of this post recognize is beginning to come to terms with what dangerous men are confined at Guantanamo, has already indicated that closure will “take time” perhaps a year or longer.

Such a delay is certain to evoke sharp criticism from supporters who believe that closure will be instantaneous upon his inauguration.

The debate over the fate of the Guantanamo detainees is heating up and will grow more bitter as new administration officials recognize the harsh fact that they are now responsible for national security.

Shortly they will become the target for critics of Guantanamo and of the war when they understand fully that they must deal with the realities that come with fighting it effectively.

Guantanamo Open – For Four More Years? Obama May be Rethinking

January 16, 2009

In a statement certain to elicit howls of rage from his net-roots supporters, Barak Obama in a Washington Post interview is quoted by Michael Sheer of saying the following:

“Obama said he is confident that he can find a way to close the Guantanamo Bay prison while finding a way to deal with and house potentially dangerous detainees. Sources said an executive order will lay out a procedure for closing the facility, but strongly disputed reports that such an order will come on the first day of the new administration.” [Emphasis added]

This is clearly at odds with leaks (get used to them, Mr. Obama) from staffers indicating that an order to close Gitmo would be the first thing he signed after taking the oath.

A close Guantanamo order, with no further procrastination, is the gold standard by which many campaign supporters will measure him.

If that statement alone wasn’t enough to provoke disappointment, this one will certainly cause attacks, probably personal, on the soon-to-be Commander-in-Chief:

“[Obama] said he will consider it a failure if he has not closed the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by the end of his first term in office.” [Emphasis added]

In a brief few weeks we have seen an abrupt transition from immediate closure to a more reasoned, “pragmatic” approach to problem solving.

Such a deliberate decision making process is certain to resonate better with a majority of Americans who do not want detainees relocated onto US soil, than one made in haste that he would come to regret.

If this is a sign of maturation in regard to national security issues, it is welcome.

As Obama himself might say, we can only hope.