Sunday, June 26, 2005

CAPTAIN ED FEELS VINDICATED. A congressional delegation has just returned from visiting Guantanamo, and finds the conditions there much improved.

The U.S. lawmakers witnessed interrogations, toured cellblocks and ate the same lunch given to detainees on the first congressional visit to the prison for suspected terrorists since criticism of it intensified in the spring. A Senate delegation also was visiting this weekend.

"The Guantanamo we saw today is not the Guantanamo we heard about a few years ago," said Rep. Ellen Tauscher
After getting a classified briefing from base commanders, the House delegation ate lunch with troops — the same meal of chicken with orange sauce, rice and okra that detainees were served. They then toured several of the barbed-wire camps where detainees are housed, viewing small cells, dusty recreation yards and common areas.

From behind one-way mirrors, lawmakers watched interrogators grilling three individual terror suspects. None of the interrogators touched detainees.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (news, bio, voting record), D-Texas, is one of many Democrats who have called for an independent commission to investigate abuse allegations and have said the facility should close. She said she stood by that position, but acknowledged, "What we've seen here is evidence that we've made progress."

Captain Ed knew it all along.

After blathering on for weeks about the supposed gulag-like conditions at Guantanamo Bay, members of Congress finally visited the facility for themselves this week. To no one's great surprise, they left with a considerably change in their attitude after having done some actual research. ...

No one wants to muzzle dissent, especially not in Congress. But before our elected representatives at any level start making accusations of systemic abuse at places like Gitmo, where they have access to review the facilities for themselves, then we expect them to have made that trip and gathered the facts before launching broadsides at the armed services and our intelligence community. Shame on them for jumping to conclusions and publicly condemning them without making that effort -- and for playing into the propaganda of our enemies during a time of war just to play partisan games on Capitol Hill.

Well. I have to admit that I am not surprised either. I doubt that there are many thinking adults who would be surprised that this congressional delegation found conditions at Gitmo did not match the accounts of former detainees, FBI agents, human rights organizations, and at least one soldier who was stationed there.

I have a comment and a question, though. First, given that we know this was not a surprise visit, I wonder how far in advance it was arranged with military authorities. I trust they had enough time to prepare.

And my question: Does the name Theriesenstadt mean anything to Captain Ed?

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