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.

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1 Comment

  1. Tom,
    I didn’t consider that angle. The nature of terrorism being a desire to instill fear raises the possibility of targeting family members. There is some history to that idea. About a decade ago, a pipe bomb was rigged up on the van of the wife of the former commanding officer of the USS Vincennes. The Vincennes was the Aegis cruiser which accidentally shot down an air bus in 1988.

    Comment by LargeBill — October 24, 2005 @ 11:40 am

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