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    GITMO...another perspective.

    We all hear the media rhetoric by talking heads...you know, the gulag references and such. Here's a different perspective from someone who was actually there (unlike the majority of the talking heads):

    http://www.techcentralstation.com/062905D.html


    The Real Abuse at Guantanamo

    By Gordon Cucullu Published 06/29/2005




    After speaking with soldiers, sailors, and civilians who collectively staff the Joint Task Force - Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on my recent visit to that base, I left convinced that abuse definitely exists at the detention facilities. But not the slander and hyperbole about alleged mistreatment of the unlawful combatants confined there that we've all heard. There is far more serious abuse: the relentless, merciless attacks on American servicemen and women by these same terrorist thugs.



    Many of the orange jumpsuit-clad detainees fight their captors at every opportunity. They attack guards whenever the soldiers enter their cells, trying to reach up under protective face masks to gouge eyes and tear mouths. They make weapons and try to stab the guards or grab and break limbs as the guards pass them food. These terrorist prisoners openly brag of their desire to kill Americans. One has promised that if he is released he would find MPs in their homes through the Internet, break into their houses at night and 'cut the throats of them and their families like sheep.' These recalcitrant detainees are known euphemistically as being "non-compliant."



    Yet these thugs are treated with an amazing degree of compassion: They are given ice cream treats and recreational time. They live in clean facilities, and receive a full Muslim religious package of Koran, prayer rug, beads, and prayer oils. An arrow in every cell points to Mecca. The call to prayer is played five times daily. They are not abused, hanged, tortured, beheaded, raped, mutilated or in any way treated the way that they once treated their own captives or now treat their guards.

    Former intelligence officer Wayne Simmons asked those in charge pointedly why we would allow a book like the Koran - that inflames and reinforces the jihadist mentality - even to be distributed to these people. "Doesn't giving them a Koran simply add fuel to an ideological fire already burning out of control?" Simmons asked. Those in charge were visibly surprised at the question. "Giving them the Koran is simply something that we think we ought to do as a humane gesture," said second-in-command Brigadier General Gong. "We're Americans. That's how we operate."



    Our group went to GITMO to check out tales that the military was being too tough on these terrorist detainees. We left convinced that America is being extraordinarily lenient - some might even say too much so. But JTF GITMO commanding officer Brigadier General Jay Hood will have none of that. He radiated confidence and determination when fielding challenges from our group about lenient treatment. "It works," he says simply. "We do not allow torture or mistreatment, period." How do they guarantee this? By rigorous, on-going training and constant oversight up and down the supervisory chain. As proof that "establishing rapport" with the detainees is far more effective than coercive techniques, General Hood refers skeptics to the massive amount of usable intelligence information JTF GITMO continues to produce even three years into the program.

    We dined with the soldiers, toured several of the individual holding camps, observed interrogations, and inspected cells. We were impressed by the universally high quality of the cadre and the facilities. While it may not be exactly "Club GITMO" that Rush Limbaugh uses to tweak the hard-left critics who haven't a clue about reality here, GITMO is a far cry from the harshness we would expect in a maximum security prison in the US.



    For example, meals for detainees are ample: we lunched on what several thought was an accumulated single day's ration for detainees. "No," the contract food service manager said with a laugh, "what you're looking at there is today's lunch. A single meal. They get three a day like that." Several prisoners have special meal orders like "no tomatoes" or "no peanut products" depending on taste or allergies.


    The detainees are similarly catered to medically. Almost every one arrived at GITMO with some sort of battlefield trauma. After all, the majority were captured in combat. Today they are healthy, immunized, and well cared for. At a visit to the modern hospital facility the doctor in charge confirmed that the caloric count for the detainees was so high that while "most detainees arrived undernourished," medics now watch for overweight and cholesterol issues.


    Of the estimated 70,000 battlefield captures that were made in Afghanistan, only a tiny percentage, something on the order of 800-plus, were eventually evacuated to GITMO. These were the worst of the worst. More than 200 have been released because they are no longer a threat or possess no useful information. Even this has been proven overly generous: more than 10 released GITMO detainees have been killed or recaptured fighting Americans or have been identified as resuming terrorist activities.


    You are right to worry about inhumane treatment taking place at GITMO. But your concern should be for the dedicated, well-trained, highly professional American men and women who are subjected to a daily barrage of feces, urine, semen, and spit hurled at them along with vile invective as they implement a humane, enlightened system of confinement on men who want nothing more than to kill Americans. These quiet professional Americans, who live under the motto "Honor Bound for Defense of Freedom," deserve our utmost respect and concern. Shame on anyone who slanders or disrespects them.



    Gordon Cucullu is a former Green Beret lieutenant colonel and author of Separated at Birth: How North Korea became the Evil Twin.

    #2
    ...and another which puts this in context.


    http://washingtontimes.com/op-ed/200...0918-8454r.htm

    For 5 months 'I stayed in the box'
    By James H. Warner
    June 29, 2005


    As a Marine Corps officer, I spent five years and five months in a prisoner of war camp in North Vietnam. I believe this gives me a benchmark against which to measure the treatment which Sen. Richard Durbin, Illinois Democrat, complained of at the Camp of Detention for Islamo-fascists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

    The senator's argument is silly. If he believes what he has said his judgment is so poor that his countrymen, assuming, of course, that he considers us his countrymen, have no reason not to dismiss him as a witless boob. On the other hand, if he does not believe what he said, the other members of the Senate may wish to consider censure.

    Consider nutrition. I have severe peripheral neuropathy in both legs as a residual of beriberi. I am fortunate. Some of my comrades suffer partial blindness or ischemic heart disease as a result of beriberi, a degenerate disease of peripheral nerves caused by a lack of thiamin, vitamin B-1. It is easily treated but is extremely painful.

    Did Mr. Durbin say that some of the Islamo-fascist prisoners are suffering from beriberi? Actually, the diet enjoyed by the prisoners seems to be healthy. I saw the menu that Rep. Duncan Hunter presented a few days ago. It looks as though the food given the detainees at Guantanamo is wholesome, nutritious and appealing. I would be curious to hear Mr. Durbin explain how orange glazed chicken and rice pilaf can be compared to moldy bread laced with rat droppings.

    In May 1969, I was taken out for interrogation on suspicion of planning an escape. I was forced to remain awake for long periods of time -- three weeks on one occasion. On the first of June, I was put in a cement box with a steel door, which sat out in the tropical summer sun. There, I was put in leg irons which were then wired to a small stool. In this position I could neither sit nor stand comfortably. Within 10 days, every muscle in my body was in pain (here began a shoulder injury which is now inoperable). The heat was almost beyond bearing. My feet had swollen, literally, to the size of footballs. I cannot describe the pain. When they took the leg irons off, they had to actually dig them out of the swollen flesh. It was five days before I could walk, because the weight of the leg irons on my Achilles tendons had paralyzed them and hamstrung me. I stayed in the box from June 1 until Nov. 10, 1969. While in the box, I lost at least 30 pounds. I would be curious to hear Mr. Durbin explain how this compares with having a female invade my private space, and whether a box in which the heat nearly killed me is the same as turning up the air conditioning.

    The detainees at Guantanamo receive new Korans and prayer rugs, and the guards are instructed not to disturb the inmates' prayers. Compare this with my experience in February 1971, when I watched as armed men dragged from our cell, successively, four of my cell mates after having led us in the Lord's Prayer. Their prayers were in defiance of a January 1971 regulation in which the Communists forbade any religious observances in our cells. Does Mr. Durbin somehow argue that our behavior is the equivalent of the behavior of the Communists?

    Actually, I was one of the lucky ones. At another camp, during the time I was being interrogated in the summer of 1969, one man was tortured to death and several were severely beaten. In fact, according to Headquarters Marine Corps, 20 percent of my fellow Marines failed to survive captivity. Have 20 percent of the Islamo-fascists failed to survive Guantanamo?

    The argument that detainees at Guantanamo are being treated badly is specious and silly. In the eyes of normal Americans, Democrats believe this argument because, as Jeanne Kirkpatrick said 20 years ago, they "always blame America first." This contributes to the increasing suspicion, in red states, a problem that Democrats are aware of and are trying to counter, that Democrats cannot be trusted with our national security. Only the Democrats can change this perception, most recently articulated by White House adviser Karl Rove. The ball is in their court and I am certain there are steps that they can take to change this perception, but making silly arguments about imaginary bad treatment of enemy detainees is not a move in the right direction.

    James H. Warner is corporate counsel practicing intellectual property law in Northern Virginia. He served as domestic policy adviser during the second Reagan administration.
    Tony Blankey's column will appear tomorrow.

    Comment


      #3
      The first article strikes me as strange. It's extremely one-sided in tone, and it makes me suspicious.

      Personally, I don't think that there are abuses in Guantanimo, because it's in a remote safe area where the prison staff can be in control. The conditions which lead to the abuse at Abu Gharib are not present, and so I expect that it would be much better run than Abu Gharib.

      Certainly, I also believe that some of the prisoners might attempt to break limbs, throw poop, and that kind of thing, because that's known to happen in prisons in general.

      I can also believe that the prisoners are getting fat because of their American style diet.

      However, I am suspicious of the article because the portrayals are extreme; the jailers are all jolly hyuck-hyucking guys and the prisoners are all evil and spiteful. That sets off the same alarm bell that goes off in my head when I hear a lobbyist go on about how Guantanimo is so horrible in every possible way. Neither version of events is believable because they both are revolving around a black-and-white description of what's going on.

      Finally, if everything is so cheerful and jolly and wonderful like the article describes, then why dosen't the government advertise this fact? If everything were so obviously and clearly one-sided, then why dosen't the US government attempt to blunt international criticism by exposing the conditions? Why don't they let some European journalists take a tour? This dosen't add up.

      Comment


        #4
        The article by James Warner drives home some very strong points. God, that man is one tough motherfucker in my book.

        Comment


          #5
          Even if the conditions are good and there is no maltreatment (which I'm sure is for the most part true) most of the detained prisoners at Gitmo (I'm not really trying to horn in on cool guy military lingo, I just didn't want to write out Guantanamo, aw fuck, there it is ... ) have been their for more than a year and have not been charged, many have no access to counsel. It's pretty clear that they are not regarded as POW since they are being treated as possible suspects in terrorist plots.

          Their detention is wrong prima facie -- we have rules for dealing with suspected criminals. Yes, they are frustratin, counter-intuitive, time-consuming and irritating to us. But they are what makes us different from countries that people want to get the fuck out of in a hurry.

          Comment


            #6
            I'm not a legal scholar so I can't speak with authority regarding all the nuances of international laws of war, BUT:

            1. The U.S. has been pretty clear in stating that there are NOT POW's..but rather unlawful enemy combatants.

            2. Even if they were POW's, I do not know of any requirements to bring criminal charges while the US is still actively engaged in the same hot war which generated their capture.

            3. They are not US citizens; they are not on US soil. I do not agree with assertions that they may be entitled to the SAME due process as accused criminals who do fall into one of the above two catagories.

            Comment


              #7
              I'll have to look at it further to be able to say confidently, but here are two troubling things that are true:

              1) Not everyone in Gitmo (dammit .... ) is necessarily an enemy combatant. There are reports of people there who were just arrested and held.

              2) The nebulous nature of the "war" calls into question who we can and can't detail. We can't have an arrest warrant that covers the world just because terrorists are all over the place. It would be nice, but no.

              Comment


                #8
                My understanding is that only a very small percentage of combatants captured wind up at GITMO. Those lucky enough to earn their all-expense-paid vacation to Cuba have generally earned it. The military isn't very interested in detaining innocent by-standers...at least not in this instance.

                "Arrest"...and, my friend, you have stumbled upon one of the other perplexing challenges of detention in assymetrical warfare...is this a law enforcement issue or military issue? (rhetorical question, of course)

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by punchingdummy
                  I'm not a legal scholar so I can't speak with authority regarding all the nuances of international laws of war, BUT:

                  1. The U.S. has been pretty clear in stating that there are NOT POW's..but rather unlawful enemy combatants.

                  2. Even if they were POW's, I do not know of any requirements to bring criminal charges while the US is still actively engaged in the same hot war which generated their capture.

                  3. They are not US citizens; they are not on US soil. I do not agree with assertions that they may be entitled to the SAME due process as accused criminals who do fall into one of the above two catagories.
                  The entire situation raises all sorts of unsettled legal issues. I basically agree with your analysis.

                  1. The classification of "unlawful enemy combatant" is appropriate (one of the few issues that is really not debatable).

                  2. If they were classified as POWs, no "charges" would ever need to be brought. However, the POWs would need to be released when the war concludes, which raises all sorts of interesting issues regarding distinct conflicts within the larger "war on terrorism".

                  3. They are not entitled to the same due process. The only due process rights they are entitled to is regarding their classification as an "unlawful enemy combatant," nothing more.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    I'll quickly grant that under the rules of war, the people at GITMO aren't soldiers of an opposing army; they are illegal combatants. I'll also grant that their presence off of U.S. soil means that they are not entitled to the rights that may be given on the mainland. The question thus arises:

                    Is the fact that we CAN keep them there indefinately without trial or due process (to which they are admittedly not entitled via a combination of law and geography) necessarily a good reason to actually do so?

                    In terms of pure legality (by U.S. law, at least), there's nothing wrong with GITMO. Perhaps I'm too much of an optimist--I've had my coffee--but I would think that we would want to go beyond defending imprisonment of illegal enemy combatants with what amounts to a loophole. Kinda makes us look shady, something probably best avoided.

                    A legal question comes to mind, for which I don't have a preloaded answer:
                    These guys had to be transported to GITMO via a U.S. military plane or ship, right? I was under the impression that, at least as far as defense is concerned, a U.S. military transport is sovereign territory. If that's actually the case and not simply a convenient argument for shooting a potential boarder, didn't mainland law briefly apply? Food for thought, I'm honestly not sure about all of that. Any judge advocates running around?

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Interesting stuff PD. While I don't always agree with your views I always look forward to your well reasoned insight. Tiffer, I gotta say that you've pretty much summed up my concerns with GITMO. I consider myself to be a pragmatic independant with "Liberal" (or is it "progressive" these days) leanings and your post contains the same (perhaps overly optimistic) concerns that I have.

                      My biggest issue with our War on Terror, is that I'm concerned that while I do think we are taking large steps to "win" (or at least dominate) the ground war, I don't think we're taking particularly good steps to win the culutral war. And I think that's the far more critical one if we want to drop the number of people who are willing to blow themselves up for a cause. Especially in the case of something as distributed as terrorist networks. And I really question whether (and I admit that due to the nature of covert ops we'll not know this for at least a generation) the gains from GITMO in the ground war are equal to the cultural losses we suffer as a result of it.

                      - Matt

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Good points all around. Of course you guys know that when we want them tortured right, people are 'rendered' to warm fuzzy places like Egypt.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          This is one of those rare cases where I'm with PD pretty much 100%; the outcry over gitmo is pathetic.

                          The second article posted fairly well sums up my perception of claims of "abuse" at Gitmo- these men are incredibly lucky they got captured by the US. I suppose Sweden or Denmark would offer cooshier digs, but honestly, if you were given a choice between being captured by Americans, Russians, or Chinese..... well it's a pretty easy question really.

                          As for the innocent bystanders, yeah, they're the ones that get let go, and believe it or not people get released from gitmo.

                          I choose female interrogator invading my space over concrete hot box and leg irons.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by Tiffer
                            A legal question comes to mind, for which I don't have a preloaded answer:
                            These guys had to be transported to GITMO via a U.S. military plane or ship, right? I was under the impression that, at least as far as defense is concerned, a U.S. military transport is sovereign territory. If that's actually the case and not simply a convenient argument for shooting a potential boarder, didn't mainland law briefly apply? Food for thought, I'm honestly not sure about all of that. Any judge advocates running around?
                            Your actually over analysing the "U.S. Soil" issue. The answer to your question is NO. Being transported via military transport, does not afford POWs or enemy combatants the rights and priviledges of U.S. domestic law. However, you don't need to be that creative if that's the approach you want to take.

                            Last I checked, the issue of whether or not GITMO is "U.S. soil" (only in terms of affording access to U.S. courts) was still not settled. If anything, I recall a recent appellate court decision actually saying that since GITMO is under U.S. control, it should be treated as "'U.S. Soil". A decision that opens up a huge can of worms regarding detaining POWs or unlawful enemy combatants while still in a combat zone.

                            Your question raises another interesting issue though. According to the "laws of warfare", if you subscribe to such an amorphous notion, is that while POWs can be transported across borders, transporting unlawful enemy combatants across borders violates international law. Some international lawyers have argued that doing so amounts to kidnapping.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Lawdog--I'm not really looking for an argument that can be used as an indictment of GITMO, I really wasn't sure exactly how the potential issue worked out in strictly legal terms. As far as U.S. personnel are concerned, their rights are out as soon as you remove lines from the pier: the captain immediately becomes the first, last, and only law. (With some guidelines, of course, but this generalization is fairly close to reality.) I'm woefully ignorant of how civlians (illegal combatants, whatever) interface with this particular component of military law.

                              I'll readily agree about the can of worms the judgement could open. I was fortunate in so far as most of the combat I saw was centered around rioting following the occupation. Not a lot of time to Mirandize someone when the crowd is attempting to break your riot wall; you hit the guy in the head with something heavy and blunt, zip-tie him, and let the guys behind the line worry about transport. I don't think I'd want the looming presence of a court martial slowing down my swing arm, a point on which we can easily agree. The other problems the ruling creates--quite a litany of situations comes to mind--are best avoided. I'm more concerned with what can be done to the process when viewed from the long term, not something on a tactical timeline.

                              Concerning "laws of warfare": granted it is an amorphous concept. You're in a situation in which people are attempting to do mortal violence to one another under their goverment's sanction (at least our government's), so the idea of "law" in any meaningful sense seems absurd.

                              That said, I would be very quick to follow the parameters that keep warfare from jumping to outright massacre. Massacre, by my definition, being the killing of civilians or other individuals unable to defend themselves. This is NOT the same as the outright destruction of a unit bent on a last stand, regardless of size. Nor is "massacre" a well-executed ambush.

                              Outside that simple guideline, things get weird. Hell, there's even judgement calls within this seemingly simple doctrine. The laws provide as much of a guideline as possible for a situation that society--and man in general--cannot dictate or regulate. We simply do our best with the rules we have, and justice via NJP or court martial is administrated with an eye towards the tactical situation at the time. One of the few benefits of a combat deployment is the wide latitude a CO is given in judging his men under fire.

                              Comment

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