Skip to comments.Facts, not myths, from an Oregonian who knows what's really going on at . . . (Reinhard)
Posted on 07/15/2007 9:28:16 AM PDT by jazusamo
Sunday, July 15, 2007
One of the first things you learn talking to Oregonian Cameron Crawford is that men held at Guantanamo are not "prisoners" or "prisoners of war." The Guantanamo Detention Operations' deputy commander says they're "detainees" and "enemy combatants."
It's easy to see why. There's a huge difference between "enemy combatants" and "prisoners of war," and "detainees" and "prisoners" under international law. It's a distinction the Bush administration has insisted on since shortly after 9/11. Detainees don't have the same protections as prisoners of war who are protected under the laws of war. The United States has no obligation to charge these enemy combatants with a crime or provide them access to courts and laws. Guantanamo's "enemy combatants" are simply detained until the end of hostilities and not punished as prisoners.
But there's another thing Brigadier General Crawford wants anyone who'll listen to understand about the detainees' treatment at Guantanamo. Whatever you call them, they're kept there in a "humane fashion." There's no mistreatment or coerced interrogations, much less torture. The detainees don't talk to interrogators unless they want to. Some do. Some don't. Some want to talk on some days and not to talk on other days. It's not some "deep, dark abyss."
That's what Crawford himself was almost inclined to believe before going to Guantanamo a half-year ago. What he found there instead, this Oregon National Guard officer noted in a visit with The Oregonian editorial board last week, was "nothing like what he had been led to believe by the media." For a while he thought he had been kidnapped and transported to some kind of "parallel universe."
Crawford points out that the Gitmo footage the media constantly runs is footage of Camp X-Ray. It operated for 118 days -- five years ago.
There is mistreatment at Guantanamo. But it's not the abuse that some of the terrorist/detainees complain of -- indeed, are instructed to complain of in their training manuals -- and some of their lawyers pass on to the gullible. No, it's the constant mistreatment that the guards endure. There are the assaults, the verbal insults and the bodily-fluid cocktails thrown at guards on a regular basis.
The 373 or so detainees are some of the most dangerous men on the planet, and they'd like nothing better than to kill again. In fact, a number of those already released have returned to violent jihad against our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Apparently, they weren't impressed with Gitmo's good grub, top-tier medical care and Islamic sensitivity.
One Saudi detainee, according to Crawford, said 85 percent of the Saudi and Yemeni detainees would link up with al-Qaida to fight Americans in Iraq. Yousef Muhammed claimed he was a carpet trader and shepherd in Afghanistan. He was released from Gitmo in May 2003. A year later, he was killed by U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and not because they were after carpet traders or shepherds. He turned out to be a top Taliban commander.
So what would Crawford like the public in general to know about Guantanamo today?
One, the detainees are being treated humanely.
Two, the United States is moving as quickly as possible to send the detainees back to nations where they won't be tortured or do violent jihad again. More detainees have now departed Guantanamo (almost 400) than remain there (about 375). In sum, the United States hardly seems invested in keeping detainees any longer than necessary.
Three, shutting down Guantanamo is no win-win situation. Crawford doesn't want to enter the current debate on it. He's not a politician or a policymaker. He's a soldier. But a soldier who's happy to talk about the practical aspects of the problem.
Never mind where you stash the vicious detainees still there. As Crawford notes, you would "lose the synergies of this world-class intelligence platform." You have a lot of folks who know a lot about al-Qaida and the Taliban -- interrogators and detainees -- all in one place.
But haven't many of the remaining detainees been there for years? Isn't their intel value degraded to non-existent? Don't detainees come with a "Use by . . ." label? Such questions elicited the most interesting news of the entire Crawford chat. "Good intelligence," he said, "is coming out on a regular basis."
A detainee's potential usefulness doesn't necessarily depend on his time in custody. It depends on the questions interrogators ask. Fresh information -- a new name, a new financial connection, a new plot, a new geographical area of interest -- prompts fresh questions and, sometimes, fresh and invaluable answers. Detainees have told interrogators of a North African terror cell in Italy and the location of a particular cave in Afghanistan. According to Crawford, intelligence officers on the battlefield had the name of one high-value target but didn't know what he looked like. It turned out that one of the detainees did. The upshot: The FBI dispatched a sketch artist to Guantanamo. Problem solved.
Crawford discovered at Guantanamo that the al-Qaida terrorists and Taliban fighters there are more committed to their cause than he imagined. How committed? Here's what one detainee with ties to Osama bin Laden, the Taliban and Chechen mujahedeen leaders told another detainee: "Their day is coming. One day I will enjoy sucking their blood, although their blood is bitter, undrinkable."
Sucking bitter, undrinkable infidel blood -- now, that's jihadi commitment.
Gitmo’s value and importance has never been doubted by us...a big thank you to the heroes serving down there!
Our elected officials do not care, it is clear, about our nation’s success...in fact many of them would like to see its defeat. No amount of reports and reality will change their minds. The American people need be informed and then send them packing!
Nice post, jaz. Thanks.