Wednesday, June 14, 2006


A Full Press Assault

(Updated and bumped to top.)

Tom Bevan posts about The Assault on Our Troops today at the RCP Blog, and highlights two other must reads for today. His companion column at RCP, and a Guest Editorial in the Chicago Tribune by the Commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo, Navy Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris, Jr.

Harris’ comments have been so widely vilified, by the New York Times and others, it’s a wonder that he withstands such unwarranted criticism with professionalism, at all. He submitted a very professional explanation of our efforts at Gunatanamo, describing how detainees are treated, and the numerous military safeguards, and international inspections that have been conducted by the International Red Cross, with favorable results.

One can credit the Chicago Tribune with giving him the space to rebut the Times dedicated campaign against Guantanamo with this essay. That’s more than many of their mainstream media (MSM) cohorts would do.

Why would the Times be resurrecting it’s overtly hostile and inflammatory campaign, just at this moment?

It couldn’t have anything to do with good news out of Iraq, a collapsing of politicized witch-hunts against Karl Rove, the “Culture of Corruption” that so far has only evidenced cash flowing into the hands (and freezer) of a Democrat. It couldn’t possibly be in response to other more aggressive efforts by President Bush and his administration to counteract incessant drumbeat of “Bush Bad” from the MSM. Or to attempt to revive the tattered “Republicans Looming Disaster in ’06,” which somehow doesn’t translate into any uptick for Democrats, either as a party or for particular candidates.

So for the Times, it’s time for another squirt of Gitmo Gas: Let’s see what THIS ignites. Just wait and see. Trouble is, if they keep up with the Jihadis in Despair tripe, they’re likely to be as successful as they (and the Democrats) have been with the “Please don’t spy on Terrorists” Campaign.

I’ve mentioned Admiral Harris and his Op Ed, and for those who haven’t read it yet, here are some excerpts of his comments (read the whole thing). Note the typical responses of these “despairing Jihadis,” which I’ve highlighted.

The Tribune's characterization of Guantanamo as a "detention camp" is precisely correct. Despite our persistent efforts to correct the record, many mainstream outlets--print, voice and electronic--persist in referring to this facility as a "prison camp." This is not mere parsing of words or semantic folderol. Prisons are about punishment and rehabilitation; Guantanamo is about neither. What we are about is the detention of unlawful enemy combatants--dangerous men associated with Al Qaeda or the Taliban captured on the battlefield waging war on America and our allies, running from that battlefield, or otherwise closely associated with Al Qaeda and the Taliban--and, as you correctly pointed out, preventing them from returning to the fight. We hold men who proudly admit membership at the leadership level in Al Qaeda and the Taliban, many with direct personal contact and knowledge of the Sept. 11, 2001, attackers. We are keeping terrorist recruiters, facilitators, explosives trainers, bombers and bombmakers, Osama bin Laden bodyguards and financiers from continuing their jihad against America.

Today, a large number of detainees live in Camp 4, a communal-living facility where they are housed in a barracks setting with access to 12 hours of recreation and exercise per day.


All detainees at Guantanamo are provided with three meals a day that meet cultural (halal) dietary requirements--meals which, incidentally, cost three times what meals for our servicemen and -women here cost. We fully meet special dietary needs (e.g., Type 2 diabetics, vegetarians, fish-but-not-red-meat-eaters etc.) of many of our detainees. We provide safe shelter and living areas with beds, mattresses, sheets and running-water toilets. We also provide adequate clothing, including shoes and uniforms, and the normal range of hygiene items, such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap and shampoo. Even so, many detainees have taken advantage of this--crafting killing weapons from toothbrushes and garrotes from food wrappers, for example.
In good faith
Detainees enjoy broad opportunities to practice their Muslim faith, including the requisite calls to prayer five times per day, prayer beads, rugs and copies of the Koran in their native languages from some 40 countries. Directional arrows pointing to Mecca have been painted in every cell and camp. The American guard force is specifically prohibited from touching detainees' Korans. Some detainees have attempted to use this restriction to their advantage by secreting messages, contraband and the like within their Korans.

We provide outstanding medical care to every detainee, the same quality as what our service members receive. We are improving the health and extending the life span of the detainee population in our charge. Last year, we completed building a $2.4 million camp hospital to treat detainees. To date, we have completed more than 300 surgeries, including an angioplasty, and more than 5,000 dental procedures. We provide eye care and issued almost 200 pairs of glasses last year. We have given nearly 3,000 voluntary vaccinations, including diphtheria, tetanus, mumps, measles and rubella--in many cases they are the first immunizations detainees have ever received--as well as treatment for hepatitis, influenza and latent tuberculosis. We offer complete colon cancer screenings to all of our detainees who are more than 50 years old, and a variety of medical specialists provide preventive and restorative care.

That said, many detainees persist in mixing a blood-urine-feces-semen cocktail and throwing this deadly concoction into the faces of the American men and women who guard them, feed them and care for them.
The International Committee of the Red Cross, which enjoys full diplomatic status, has unfettered access to the detainees. Their reports are useful, meaningful and confidential. They have helped us improve conditions here. I will note that, on April 25, Reuters reported that "detainees are enjoying better treatment at the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, and the Red Cross is satisfied with its access to them ... Jakob Kellenberger, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said detention conditions at Guantanamo had `improved considerably' over the past four years ... He called it `extremely regrettable' that the intense media focus on Guantanamo seemed to distract from troubled sites in places like Chechnya and Myanmar, where the ICRC has suspended prison visits over disagreements with local authorities."
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe had positive remarks to say about us based on its visit here this past March. As reported by Reuters, Alain Grignard, deputy head of Brussels' federal police anti-terrorism unit, at a press conference following an OSCE visit, said, "At the level of the detention facilities, it is a model prison, where people are better treated than in Belgian prisons." Anne-Marie Lizin, chairwoman of the Belgian Senate, told reporters at this same press conference that she saw no point in calling for the immediate closure of Guantanamo.

Despite articles written by defense attorneys and young translators arguing the contrary, these are, in fact, dangerous men in our custody. Make no mistake about it--we are keeping enemies of our nation off the battlefield. This is an enormous challenge. These terrorists are not represented by any nation or government. They do not adhere to the rules of war. That said, we treat them humanely, in full compliance with all laws and international obligations.
The young Americans serving here in Guantanamo are upholding the highest ideals of honor and duty in a remote location, face to face with some of the most dangerous men on the planet. Your readers should be proud of them. I am proud to be their commander.

It’s too bad the New York Times is so committed to parroting Al Qaeda propaganda about Guantanamo, that they wouldn’t even deign to print something like this, let alone bother to investigate and report US Military official response to what are, routinely and categorically, false and misleading allegations about treatment at Gitmo.

I guess it would cause them far too much “despair” if they admitted that maybe, they’re the ones who need to “learn the truth” about Guantanamo, not the American people. Judging by their reaction to this “poor Jihadi” nonsense, I think they’ve learned all they need to about our enemies.

UPDATE: I actually read this piece as I was preparing this post, and my immediate thought was, well, if truly described, this man’s circumstance is the exception that proves the rule. Now, based on events unfolding in France, it may be this was no exception, just a typical Jihadi attempt to evoke sympathy from an already receptive (and fuming) New York Times.

Note how that the attempt at sympathy from the Times was successful. Jihadis get as good a reception at the Times as they likely receive from Al Jazeera.

This from the AP report, carried by CNN:

In handing down sentences, the court followed the prosecutor's office by giving the maximum 10-year term to the group's alleged chemicals expert, Menad Benchellali. However, Menad's father, Chellali Benchellali, an imam, or prayer leader, in the Lyon suburb of Venissieux, received only an 18-month suspended prison term -- far lower than the prosecution's demand for six years behind bars.

The court convicted 24 defendants of criminal association in relation with a terrorist enterprise, a broad charge used by France to sweep wide in bringing terror suspects to justice. One other was convicted of using false papers.

The Benchellali family was at the center of the case, with Menad's mother, Hafsa, and brother, Hafed, also on trial for roles in the plot to carry out an attack in France.

The network was dismantled in two waves, the first in December 2002 as investigators stormed two houses in the Paris suburb of La Courneuve and the nearby town of Romainville. They found gas canisters, fuses, chemicals and a suit to protect against chemical attacks.

During a second wave of arrests, in January 2004 in Venissieux, in southeast France, investigators found chemical products, including ricin, and definitively broke up the network.
The Benchellali family, it seems, form the backbone of a France-based terror network:
Prosecutor Anne Kostomaroff, profiling the network, put the origins of the group in Chlef, Algeria, in 1999, where eight members had refused an Algerian government amnesty plan for Islamic insurgents in the North African country. Various members then traveled to Spain, France, Italy and the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan, while a core group formed in the Paris region in late 2000 to create a support ring for Islamic militants in the war-ravaged Russian republic of Chechnya.

However, the Benchellali family has long been established in Lyon. Imam Benchellali is known to have occasionally used his makeshift mosque on the ground floor of a high-rise building to collect funds for Islamic fighters in Chechnya.
It really can’t be possible that the New York Times doesn’t know that long-suffering, despairing MOURAD BENCHELLALI was a member of a reputed Jihadist family (make that gang), on the eve of the French conviction of large numbers of said “family.” A Terrorist propaganda press release, from a member of a family on the eve of their convictions for support for terrorism, and association with a busted terror plot against France.

What kind of excuse does the Times have? France is part of this long standing denial of justice, this persecution of Muslims? That’d be news to most of non-Muslim Europe.

Are they for hire? Do terrorist attorneys buy the Times off?

The enemy of my enemy is my friend?

Stupidity? Arrogance? Circulation suicide or political tone deafness?

Is their crusade against Guantanamo worth whatever shred of dignity or reputation the Gray Lady has left?

Via Roger Simon

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