Jewish World Review June 7, 2002 / 27 Sivan, 5762
After six weeks at Guantanamo Bay, the man couldn't take it any more. So, he talked; he told the Times of London everything he knew about what Camp X-Ray has come to.
What he described isn't pretty -- not if you're interested in winning the war on terrorism. According to a former interpreter named William Tierney, the newspaper reports, the interrogation center at Guantanamo Bay has become "a politically correct regime that puts prisoners' complaints ahead of intelligence gathering." Washington, it seems, is less afraid of Al Qaeda and the next attack than the human-rights lobby and the next report.
So goodbye Gitmo, hello "Eggshell City" -- the ultra-sensitive, politically correct (dare we say Clinton-esque?) center for suspected terrorists, where only the guards suffer in silence, and a marine can get himself transferred for being too tough. So writes the Times in a revealing account based on the experiences of Tierney, a Gulf War veteran and Arabic speaker who spent six weeks interpreting at the camp and who, the newspaper notes, "decided to speak out after losing his job in a long-running dispute with the Pentagon."
Remember the shackles, the razor wire and the global-baloo over the inhumanity of it all?
"Suspected terrorists are allowed to treat their captors with derision," the newspaper reports, "lying, chanting the Koran in unison, mocking and threatening guards and throwing water at them. Americans are under orders not to react roughly." After these Al Qaeda training-camp alumni groused about their leg irons, stretcher-like trolleys were provided to run them back and forth between interrogations -- at least until the media speculated that prisoners were being wheeled because they had suffered beatings. Now, the detainees roll around the Cuban camp on golf carts.
Meanwhile, it turns out the prisoners just loved those wire cages -- the ones that caused such a ruckus -- because they could easily communicate with one another from them, and also keep an eye on who was being interrogated. (They have since been moved into Camp Delta, a new indoor prison.) And remember the fuss over K-rations?
"Numerous people there said they hadn't eaten this well in years," Tierney told the newspaper. As a visiting general reportedly put it to a group of these fighters suspected of holding the key to future attacks, "We don't want anyone to say we're mistreating you."
No. But "anyone" does say so just the same. Just last week, Amnesty International castigated the United States over the Guantanamo detainees, declaring in its annual report that the detainees' treatment "appears to have prompted some governments to believe that the inhumane treatment of prisoners is now acceptable." If Tierney's experience is typical, it's tough to see man's inhumanity to man on display in Eggshell City. "Prisoners were being treated so carefully, for fear of accusations of torture, that no serious pressure was being put on them to cooperate," the newspaper reports. Tierney says he doesn't believe in resorting to torture. "But we can't have it both ways," he explains. "We can't obtain the information we need without offending anyone."
But how to do it when self-defense means never being
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JWR contributor Diana West is a columnist and editorial writer for the Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.
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© 2001, Diana West