Sunday, June 05, 2005

Inconsistency and Illogic Abound in Wingnut Land

READING MY POST of yesterday about the neocon bloggers' reaction to the military's confirmation of Koran abuse at Gitmo, I find that there are amazing lapses in consistency and logic that I didn't mention. Since my mission is to expose the extraordinary inability to think clearly and rationally that is endemic to neocon bloggers, I must complete this part of the mission immediately.

1. TL Myers, in a comment at Outside the Beltway, writes, in part:

They’re prisoners of war, and are instructed to lie, steal, cheat, and do everything they can to make life hell for our troops.

According to the Bush administration, they are "enemy combatants," not prisoners of war. The "Justice" Department makes this distinction so that they can claim that the Geneva Conventions are not applicable to Gitmo detainees, or any other detainees in the "war on terror." In fact, if TL Myers were a U.S. soldier stationed at Gitmo, he would be reprimanded for calling the detainees "prisoners of war." Soldiers and staff at Gitmo are under strict instructions always to refer to the detainees as "enemy combatants," never as "prisoners of war."

I don't know who Myers thinks is "instructing" Gitmo detainees to "lie, steal, cheat," etc. Perhaps they have little radio transmitters implanted under their skin, who knows. But it's not true that everything they say is a lie. Unquestionably, some of the detainees lie; just as some of the MPs lie about abuse that they commit or that they witness. But it's not even open to question that torture occurs at Guantanamo and that the Geneva Conventions are routinely violated. That fact has been documented by a wide variety of sources, including the FBI; and at least one soldier who served at Guanatanamo, Erik Saar, has written about the abusive treatment of detainees there.

2. Michelle Malkin quotes from an e-mail she received, as follows:

Your article describing the treatment of detainees and their access to books other than the Koran is accurate. The detainees also have their own medical facility and an exercise yard where they run, play soccer and engage in other physical activities.

I know these things because I was a guard there from Dec. 2002 to Sept. 2003. I was in a National Guard infantry unit assigned to man the towers inside and the checkpoints around Camp Delta. I have seen these things firsthand.

I will never forget seeing an MP waiting at Guantanamo Bay Naval Hospital after being splattered by a detainees bodily fluids. You never hear about these incidents in the media and you never hear about MP's having to be tested for hepatitis and other infections due to these incidents.

Gitmo, like most detention facilities, will never approach any state of perfection. However, from what I have observed, most injuries to detainees were self-inflicted, such as attempted suicides.

That notwithstanding, the general atmosphere is not threatening. I cannot count the number of times a detainee would look up at me in one of the towers and give me a friendly smile and wave.

Erik Saar served at Guantanamo during the same period of time that Malkin's e-mail correspondent did, and his experience was quite different from this other soldier's. It's important to note that Saar came to Gitmo believing wholeheartedly in the mission, and completely convinced that all of the detainees at Guantanamo were terrorists. What he saw there changed his mind.

And of course Malkin ignores the glaring contradiction in her correspondent's account: He first says that MPs were "splattered with a detainee's bodily fluids" [Translation: the detainees spat at the MPs; this is in Saar's book] and had to be tested for hepatitis and other infectious diseases as a result; he implies that such events were commonplace. He says, "...most injuries to detainees were self-inflicted, such as attempted suicides." Then he says that "...the general atmosphere is not threatening," and that he "cannot count the number of times a detainee would look up at me in one of the towers and give me a friendly smile and wave."

This guy clearly wants to have it both ways; these detainees are dangerous, unstable, self-destructive individuals; and these detainees are friendly and happy and glad to be at Guantanamo. He states the MPs did not treat detainees badly, and as support for this claim writes that most of the detainees' injuries were "self-inflicted, such as attempted suicides." But if the detainees were not being treated badly; if conditions at Guantanamo were not atrocious, then why would the detainees try to kill themselves? This gap in logic is simply ignored.

Moreover, this guy's statement that the media, the FBI, and the International Red Cross made frequent, regular visits, omits the fact that the MPs and other Gitmo staff were strictly forbidden to speak to the IRC representatives or even come near them if that could be avoided. He omits the fact that Guantanamo had numerous "ghost detainees" who were held in separate, secret parts of the facility, hidden from the IRC. He omits the fact that the FBI had serious disagreements with the Gitmo interrogators about the extremely abusive tactics the latter often used; the FBI felt they were not only ineffective but counterproductive to getting good information. He omits the fact that media and government officials did not show up unannounced and that they were always shown a sanitized, prettied-up version of Guantanamo that had been carefully prepared before their arrival.

All of these truths are in Erik Saar's book.

3. Tom at Scared Monkeys writes:

The press in this instance reminds me of my young boys when we catch them doing something wrong. They know it is wrong, but come up with excuse after excuse trying to get out of trouble, and provide many examples of how their brother did much more wrong. And if we had done anything within 5 orders of magnitude wrong along the same lines in the last 6 months, they are very quick to bring it up.

Uh, hello? This is exactly what the writers at Scared Monkeys do when it comes to defending wrongdoing by the U.S. military. Check out this comment by Red, in response to my post here.

Obviously, "Yes, we did some wrong things but the guys on the other side did much worse wrong things" is an argument not limited to Tom's "young boys."

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