October 23, 2005

Club Gitmo? Not for Our Soldiers (and Why War Heroics May Be Suppressed)

Filed under: General,MSM Biz/Other Bias,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance — Tom @ 7:48 pm

Rush has gotten a lot of mileage this summer out of his Club Gitmo line of shirts, caps, and coffee mugs. It has served a useful purpose: to ridicule the “human-rights” whiners who care more about whether the alive, living, and well-fed Guantanamo Bay detainees are getting their creature comforts than recording for posterity the savagery involved in the murders of an estimated 300,000 Iraqis found in over 300 of Saddam Hussein’s mass graves thus far (LGF link excerpts a NY Times link that is now archived).

So I have no objection to fun and games at The Left’s expense. But we should not forget the woefully underreported reality of what our servicemen and servicewomen are going through in guarding Gitmo’s charming inhabitants.

The author’s name and background is not at the article found at the Fredericksburg.com link, but thanks to Carolyn in the newsroom at Fredericksburg.com, I was able to learn its author and get to the original article that seemed to escape general notice when it was originally published at The American Enterprise (VERY large hat tip to Large Bill for the more current and reordered link). The excerpt below is from TAE; I recommend that you read the whole thing, and hang on for what I think is a very important point at the end:

Gitmo Jive
By Gordon Cucullu

Guantanamo Bay, Cuba–
….. These “detainees” are not innocent foot soldiers, or confused Afghan opium farmers drafted by the Taliban. They are Islamic fundamentalists from across the Middle East, rabid jihadists who have dedicated their lives to the destruction of America and Western civilization. Among the residents are al-Qaeda organizers, bomb makers, financial specialists, recruiters of suicide attackers, and just plain killers. Many of these men met frequently with Osama bin Laden. The terrorist Maad Al Qahtani, a Saudi who is a self-confessed collaborator with the September 11 hijackers, is one of many infamous captives.

In the opening salvos of the global war on terror, our forces took a lot of prisoners from the battlefield. Estimates are that more than 70,000 Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters were captured and screened. Of that number, approximately 800 were deemed of such high value for intelligence purposes, or such a severe threat in their own person, that they needed to be interrogated and confined in a secure locale from which they could not easily escape or be rescued. Welcome to the new Gitmo.

I was able to observe conditions at the detention facility, firsthand, at the end of June….. We were met planeside by Brigadier General Jay Hood, the commanding officer of Joint Task Force Gitmo, whose soldiers are responsible for the security, interrogation, housing, and oversight of all the terrorists confined there. General Hood and his staff fielded all questions and criticisms, and were very forthcoming.

….. While we observed absolutely no evidence of torture of prisoners at Gitmo, it is clear that the daily atmosphere is rife with harsh abuse: The prisoners are constantly assaulting the guards.

Our young military men and women routinely endure the vilest invective imaginable, including death threats that spill over to guards’ families. All soldiers and sailors working “inside the wire” have blacked out their name tags so that the detainees will not learn their identities. Before that step was taken the terrorists were threatening to tell their al-Qaeda pals still at large who the guards were. “We will look you up on the Internet,” the prisoners said. “We will find you and slaughter you and your family in your homes at night. We will cut your throats like sheep. We will drink the blood of the infidel.”

That is bad enough, but the terrorist prisoners throw more than words at the guards. On a daily basis, American soldiers carrying out their duties within the maximum-security camp are barraged with feces, urine, semen, and spit hurled by the detainees. Secretly fashioned weapons intended for use in attacking guards or fellow detainees are confiscated regularly. When food or other items are passed through the “bean hole”—an opening approximately 4 inches by 24 inches in the cell doors, the detainees have grabbed at the wrists and arms of the Americans feeding them and tried to break their bones.

When guards enter the cells to remove detainees for interrogation sessions, medical visits, or any number of reasons, detainees sometimes climb on the metal bunks and leap on the guards. They have crammed themselves under the bunks, requiring several guards to extract them. Some have attacked unsuspecting soldiers with steel chairs. Determined to inflict maximum damage, detainees have groped under the protective face masks of the guards, clawing their faces and trying to gouge eyes and tear mouths.

Keep in mind that our soldiers—young men and young women—are absolutely forbidden from responding in kind.

….. Nearly all of these hardened terrorists have been well coached on how to be an American captive. Given any opportunity, they will all claim torture and human rights violations. They have been schooled on counter-interrogation techniques, on how to construct and maintain a cover story, and other subterfuges to fool or deflect interrogators.

….. We asked Hood if he was possibly being too lenient with these men. “This system of rapport-building works,” Hood assures us. In support of the soft-handed approach, he cites an extraordinary amount of actionable intelligence that continues to flow out of the interrogation rooms of Gitmo.

….. Intelligence gleaned from Gitmo is blended with information from other sources to connect dots. We learned that one non-cooperative detainee had his cover penetrated just last month by having his photo identified by a freshly captured fighter in Afghanistan. Once confronted with his real identity, he began to talk.

It is important to keep in mind that these men, while exceedingly dangerous and even pathological in their desire to kill Westerners, are generally well-educated and broadly traveled. Several detainees have advanced degrees in law, engineering, and medicine from American and European schools like the University of London. Others are highly skilled technical experts with advanced training and knowledge of electronics and demolitions. (Some of these are contributing to our knowledge of al-Qaeda bombs found in Iraq.) Many of these men occupied the top al-Qaeda echelons, and met frequently with bin Laden.

A lot of these men came from middle-class or wealthy families. They come from 17 different countries, but a great many are Saudi Arabian. They are not driven by poverty, unemployment, or class deprivation. They are motivated by a virulent form of Islam that promotes jihad and death to Western civilization. They will kill Americans—including women and children—without conscience, for they are convinced that restoration of the Islamic caliphate is their sole mission on this Earth.

…..Universally, (the guards) are proud of their work, although somewhat disappointed that the American public is not more aware of the difficulties they undergo to keep us safe.

One young woman …., an Army private first class, was asked what she thought about rhetoric in the American media, and from the mouths of elected officials like Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Ted Kennedy (D-MA), describing our service members at Guantanamo as “Nazis.” Frowning, she answered, “It hurts my feelings to hear that junk. We try to do as good a job as possible down here. These detainees are dangerous. They try to kill us every time we get close to them, and would certainly kill Americans if released…..”

Former Special Forces lieutenant colonel Gordon Cucullu is a frequent television commentator on military matters (Carolyn mentioned that their notes identified him as Green Berets.

Now to the final point: This may be the first war we have fought since The Revolutionary War where our soldiers have had to worry about harm to their families and relatives from enemy sleepers inside our own country. Maybe even more than media bias against the war, perhaps this unfortunately legitimate fear explains why we are not hearing as much about war heroics in Iraq and Afghanistan as we have heard in previous wars. It’s a real shame not to hear the stories, but it’s hard to argue against suppressing the news if discretion is necessary to keep loved ones safe.

Catching Up on 2 Weeks of WSJs

A while ago, I mentioned that I stopped receiving the print edition of The Wall Street Journal, opting for their online-only subscription and saving $136 per year.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that I haven’t developed the habit of reading The Journal’s online headlines every day. Bam-I was two weeks behind, but I just caught up.

It’s amazing the items I catch in the WSJ that I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere else (all links, of course, require that pesky subscription).

Ask yourself how many of these stories you have seen elsewhere, especially the ones that are good news about the economy:

Good economic news:

  • Oct. 10: Office Vacancies Hit 3-1/2 Year Low“… by all accounts the office market is in much better shape than it has been. Vacancies are down 1.8 percentage point from their peak of 16.9% in the first quarter of 2004.”
  • Oct. 18: PCs on fire (i.e., selling well)–“The personal computer market, bucking expectations and negative economic trends like rising interest rates, posted 17% growth in the third quarter, according to two closely watched surveys.”

Good (and some not-so-good) consumer news:

  • Oct. 13: Citigroup’s credit card unit is coming out with a card called Simplicity, “which will be advertised as having no late fees for customers who make at least one purchase a month.”
  • Oct. 13: Many hotels are no longer charging for hi-speed web access, and the discount chains(!) are leading the push.
  • Oct. 19: College costs continue their relentless climb“According to the (College Board) survey, tuition and fees at four-year public universities are up 7.1% from a year ago, with the average bill at $5,491. A year at a private nonprofit school costs an average of $21,235, up 5.9%. Add in room and board, and a year at a public university will set a student back an average of $12,127, while a private school’s bill comes in at an average of $29,026.”
  • Oct. 21: In the competitive broadband environment, this will not sit well“Several large telephone and cable companies are starting to make it harder for consumers to use the Internet for phone calls or swapping video files. Some of the companies say the users are hogging bandwidth, taking up too much space on networks and slowing down service for all customers that tap the Internet for email, video, music, phone and other services.”

Scandals R Us:

  • Oct. 11: Remember David Boies, Al Gore’s lawyer in the 2000 presidential recount? He’s been caught with undisclosed family ties relating to legal referrals, and, for such a smart guy, seems astonishingly ignorant of what’s been going on–

    Superstar lawyer David Boies has built a reputation as a meticulous fact-finder, counseling companies battered by scandal to make full disclosures.
    But Mr. Boies says he didn’t ferret out a fact closer to home: His children owned a one-third stake in an expert-witness and research company to which his law firm steered clients. A similar stake in the company, Legal & Scientific Analysis Group, was held by a felon, a former Boies colleague.
    A “substantial portion” of LSAG’s more than $2 million in revenue in 1999 and 2000 came from referrals from Boies, Schiller & Flexner, the law firm headed by Mr. Boies, company documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal show. A holding company partly owned by four of Mr. Boies’s children received about $200,000 in profit and consulting fees from LSAG in 1999 and 2000, the documents show.
    Mr. Boies says he is aware of some, “but not all,” of the children’s ventures, and didn’t know about their LSAG stake until a reporter told him about it. He says three of his children, who worked at Boies Schiller at the time, also didn’t know about their own stake in the company. LSAG and its parent company, UHY Advisors, declined to comment. None of the children returned calls. Mr. Boies says his oldest son, David Boies III, who has his own law firm, oversaw his siblings’ investments.

  • Oct. 18: Under-fire housing behemoth Fannie Mae “used its regional partnership offices primarily to lobby Congress instead of to promote affordable housing as the organizations were intended, the Department of Housing and Urban Development concluded following a yearlong review.”

General Motors and the United Auto Workers:

  • Oct. 18: Lost in the hubbub over health care at GM is the news that the company is “exploring the sale of a controlling stake in its lucrative finance company — which would likely strengthen the unit’s long-term prospects while producing a windfall for the auto maker.”
  • Oct. 19: To make sure the GM-UAW health care agreement will pass legal muster, in a bizarre but apparently necessary move, the UAW sued GM to “prevent legal challenges by retirees to the cuts it says it negotiated on their behalf. Normally, the law doesn’t allow a union to negotiate to reduce the benefits for people who are already retired. Nor does the law allow employers to unilaterally cut benefits for those who have retired under negotiated union contracts. As a result, the union is suing the company and asking the court to settle the matter by approving the tentative agreement with GM.” Wow.

Overseas:

  • Oct. 12: Who’s the Real Resource Hog? In an article about China’s economic plans“Chinese leaders also worry that the country won’t be able to sustain economic growth without more efficient use of resources. In a commentary yesterday, the official People’s Daily newspaper noted that while China’s gross domestic product accounted for 4% of the global total, its consumption of primary energy sources accounted for 12% of the global total; freshwater, 15%; aluminum, 25%; and cement, 50%.”
  • Oct. 12: Japan’s postal privatization law appears nears passage. Friday the 15th (from another source), it became a done deal.
  • Oct. 13: The Chinese capital markets are still primitive“The report …. ticks off a number of danger signs at big Chinese companies. They rely too much on simple bank lending. Half of their bank borrowing is for periods of a year or less. Nearly every dollar of profit earned by Chinese companies has been offset by new loans for investment. Only 13 Chinese companies have obtained an internationally recognized credit rating. Capital markets provide few alternatives for longer-term funding. The report notes that the size of China’s stock market, relative to gross domestic product, ranks behind that of every major economy, and the corporate-bond market is essentially nonexistent.” And you were expecting free and vigorous capital markets?
  • Oct. 15: The bankruptcy law changes that took effect on October 17 have big companies on the brink so worried that nobody wants to the “guinea pig”–the first to file under the law.

Other:

  • Oct. 17: In a painfully long article about corporate compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley, this little fact-bomb appeared–“….. audit fees increased 61% on average last year for a wide sampling of companies in three Standard & Poor’s Corp. stock indexes, including the S&P 500. This year, according to AMR Research, a technology-research outfit in Boston, U.S. public companies will spend a total of $6.1 billion complying with Sarbanes-Oxley rules, a figure that includes everything from staffing to consultant fees to technology.” One irritated exec grumbled that his auditors “now drive a Mercedes instead of a Buick.”

Whew. I won’t fall behind like THAT again.

Certain People Should Not Read This Post

Filed under: Economy,General — Tom @ 1:35 pm

Uh-oh. Shopping Keeps You Sharp:

Staying Sharp: Yet Another Reason to Shop

When the going gets tough, it turns out the tough go shopping. That’s because particular types of shopping actually help you remain mentally sharp and physically healthy, according to Guy McKhann, MD, a neurologist at Johns Hopkins.

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Positivity: Cops, Others Are Heroes in LA Car Fire Rescue

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:09 am

It was caught on tape, and will presumably be available at the link for a while (HT Good News Blog):

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