The popular version in the mainstream media of suspected terrorists being tortured and humiliated by sadistic U.S. military guards was disputed the other week in a 278-page internal investigative report excerpts of which were published by the Associated Press. If the news accounts of the report purported to show U.S. brutishness and misconduct, it had the opposite effect. Rather, the report reveals that it is the Muslim detainees that are the sadistic thugs and that the military's kid gloves approach is creating dangerous and chaotic conditions for U.S. military personnel.
Far from cowed and passive victims, the suspected terrorists are shown to be defiant and violent rabble-rousers, expertly taking advantage of the U.S. military's weaknesses, and using exaggerated complaints of abuse and Koran desecration to stir up animosity among American liberals and their Muslim sympathizers abroad.
In one instance the AP reports: "Some prisoners at the U.S. base in eastern Cuba have gone on the attack, as in April 2003 when a detainee got out of his cell during a search for contraband food and knocked out a guard's tooth with a punch to the mouth and bit him before he was subdued by MPs."
Another report details how detainees protested the high temperatures at Guantanamo Bay: "[They] doused guards with whatever liquid was handy - from spit to urine. Sometimes they struck their jailers, one swinging a steel chair at a military police officer." (Perhaps the steel chair was too uncomfortable. Foof chairs would be more comfy and pose less risk to guards.)
Another paragraph documents an instance in which a detainee threw a bottle of urine at a guard in May 2002, "apparently because he believed the soldier had intentionally kicked his hospital bed." When the soldier threw the (now empty) bottle back, the detainee grabbed a steel chair and swung it at guards before he was subdued.
Among the horrors visited upon Taliban prisoners by the U.S., according to a Department of Defense memo, one finds this almost Treblinkan atrocity: "[The memo] concluded [a] soldier had mistreated detainees twice -- the second offense involved cursing at inmates [emphasis added]... Investigators recommended disciplinary action against the soldier and a probe into why the incident wasn't reported up the chain of command." The first offense charged that the MP threw Pine Sol at a detainee after he doused the MP with a bottle of urine. (The MP denied the charges.)
Perhaps the incident was not reported because when service men try to defend themselves against detainees they are inevitably dropped in rank, suffer loss of pay and extra duty, or receive similar harsh punishment. One MP explained why guards take such abuse from suspected terrorists: "The training we have received here at Guantanamo Bay has always stressed... that no matter what happens on the block do not retaliate...it will just get you into trouble."
It is a good idea to occasionally remind ourselves and our watchdogs in the mainstream press just who these detainees are. Most are Taliban fighters. Liberals as a class seem to be susceptible to long-term memory loss (if four years can be considered long-term), and have forgotten who exactly these Taliban characters are, to say nothing of their crimes.
Fortunately Human Rights Watch documented the various Taliban atrocities (as if providing sanctuary and support to bin Laden and Al Qaeda wasn't enough) in which thousands of Afghan civilians were targeted because of their ethnic or religious identity. The carnage included:
Yakaolang (Jan. 2001): About 170 Hazaras Shiite men are killed. Eyewitnesses reported that Taliban soldiers fired rockets into a mosque where some 73 women, children and elderly men had taken shelter.
Robatak Pass (May 2000) Twenty-six civilian bodies found. Again the victims were Hazara Shi'ites.
Bamiyan (1999): When the Taliban recaptured Bamiyan in 1999, Taliban forces carried out summary executions upon entering the city. Hundreds were killed. Taliban also burned homes and used detainees for forced labor.
Shomaili Plains (July 1999): A Taliban offensive was marked by summary executions, disappearance of women, burning of homes, and destruction of property..
Mazar-I-Sharif (August 1998): After the Taliban captured Mazar-I-Sharif, between 2,000 and 5,000 mostly ethnic Hazara civilians were massacred. Women and girls were raped and abducted.
Mazar-I-Sharif (Sept. 1997): Retreating Taliban forces summarily executed Hazara villagers near Mazar-I-Sharif, after having failed to capture the city. Taliban massacred 70 Hazara civilians in nearby Qezelabad. Taliban forces in Faryab province killed some 600 civilians in late 1997.
On at least two occasions the Taliban killed delegations of Hazara elders who had attempted to intercede with them. These are just the massacres that Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International were able to document. There were doubtless more. To say nothing of the Taliban's other crimes, such as the destruction of 1,500-year-old Buddhist statues at Bamiyan, and thousands of Buddhist statues at the National Museum in Kabul. Besides forced conscription of boys and forced marriages for girls, Afghan girls were prohibited from attending school and women were prohibited from working outside the home, or to leave their homes except in the company of a male relative. (This proved devastating for thousands of Afghan war widows, reduced to selling their possessions or begging to feed their families.) The Taliban beat women to enforce their medieval dress code for women and disrupted international relief agencies efforts to deliver food and medical supplies. They also seized control of U.N. food warehouses, looted offices of NGOs, beat workers and stole hundreds of vehicles.
Muslim writer Turki Al Hamad summed up the Taliban's cultural legacy this way: "At a time when the rest of the world [was] de-coding the genome, experimenting with cloning, inventing information chips, exploring outer space and tackling the wonders of laser beams and infra-red radiation, [the Taliban were banning kite-flying, listening to music and female education.]"
These are the "victims" we have detained at Guantanamo Bay. Of course Americans who fell into the hands of Taliban and al Qaeda have never once complained about being cursed at or having their holy book desecrated. That's because it's hard to complain when you've had your throat slit and your head cut off.
The detainee's biggest gripe remains the high temperatures. This from former Taliban footsoldiers who lived in rocky crags of the Afghani desert. Yes, the heat is awful on the Caribbean beach. That's why Americans and Europeans spend millions of dollars annually to vacation there.
By all means we should shut down Guantanamo Bay. Then open a new camp at Point Barrow, Alaska, where there will be no more complaining about the hot ocean breezes, and no problems with prisoners throwing urine (because it will be frozen), and where we won't need Pine-Sol since germs are inactive in subzero temperatures. As for chair tossing, Muslims would probably prefer Turkish carpets to steels chairs anyway. I know the MPs would.
Fortunately there is often a common sense solution to every problem.
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