Tomorrow’s Minneapolis Star Tribune editorial endorses the vile, ignorant fulminations of Senator Durbin and chides Durbin only for not standing fully behind them: “Durbin’s message/U.S. must end prisoner abuse.” The Star Tribune’s criticism of Durbin for buckling is as ill-founded as its support of the aid and comfort Durbin’s trash talk has lent the enemies of the United States.
The Star Tribune says Durbin got it right and shouldn’t have apologized. We think Durbin got it wrong and that he hasn’t apologized. The Star Tribune doesn’t bother to support its assertion that “the undeniable truth that American treatment of its prisoners has crossed many, many lines — of morality, of international law, of practical benefit.”
Over at the American Spectator site, Jed Babbin denies the Star Tribune’s deniable falsehoods, at least insofar as the subject is Guantanamo: “Enemy of the state.” Babbin writes:
If you believe the Deanocrats and their media pals, we’re holding people incommunicado, in a legal limbo, where innocents are beaten, starved, and tortured, that America is an international outlaw, that Gitmo is OBL’s best recruiting tool, that we’re violating the Geneva Conventions, and that all the Islamic fascisti would join with us to sing Kumbaya if only we closed Gitmo. Enough. You won’t get your teens to read all three volumes of Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago. But you may, at least, be able to get them to read from here to the bottom of this article.
We’re holding people there incommunicado? According to 1st Lt. Wade Brown, the chief mail man at Gitmo, every detainee at Gitmo, regardless of his conduct, is allowed mail privileges unless he can’t be trusted with a pen because he’s threatened to harm himself. Lt. Brown, in a sworn declaration dated March 17, 2005, said that from September 2004 through February 2005, 14,000 pieces of mail were sent or received by detainees at Gitmo.
Legal limbo? Some 800 suspected terrorists have, so far, been incarcerated at Gitmo. All of them have had their cases reviewed by military commissions. About 235 have been released, 61 are today awaiting release or transfer, and about 520 remain, having been given all the due process to which they are entitled by U.S. and international law, including the Geneva Conventions. They are enemy combatants. We are entitled to hold them until the war is over whether it’s tomorrow or in 2525.
Are we torturing and starving these people? No. Chaining someone to a wall or a floor isn’t comfortable, but it isn’t torture. And it’s important to remember what is. Nearly two years ago, I spoke to three men who were held in a Saudi jail and given the full Lubyanka treatment. In a 2003 interview, James Lee, Peter Brandon, and Glenn Ballard each told me of how they were treated. What Brandon described to me was credible and consistent with what the other two said.
Brandon told me he was “systematically beaten” and subjected to what he called the “rotisserie” treatment. “I was shackled at the feet, you see, and handcuffed,” Brandon told me. “And they sort of thread a broom handle through your arms and your legs. Then you’re hung upside down, and so you’ve got all the weight on the creases of your arms, so it’s very painful.” On the third day, they beat his bare feet with an ax handle so badly that his feet were bloody. He was screaming so much that they forced a gag down his throat, and for a moment stopped his breathing. After about five days of beatings and sleep deprivation, the Saudis threatened to arrest Brandon’s wife and toddler son. He broke down, and confessed to terrorist bombings he says he didn’t commit. I believe Brandon and the others of the crimes they were convicted of because the Saudis released them instead of executing them or imprisoning them for life under what passes for law there. What went on in that Saudi jail was torture. What’s going on at Gitmo isn’t.
What is going on is the interrogation and extended detention of some of the worst hard-case terrorists. They are terrorist trainers and financiers, bomb makers, would-be suicide bombers, terrorist recruiters and facilitators, and some of OBL’s bodyguards. Of the hundreds who were judged not to be terrorists and released, at least a dozen have been recaptured on the battlefield, having again taken arms to kill Americans. The intelligence gained at Gitmo is enabling us to prevent terrorist attacks and save American lives.
If the Star Tribune isn’t the worst newspaper in the United States, it’s tied with whatever newspaper is.
UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt addressed the Star Tribune editorial late last night. Hugh characterizes the Star Tribune’s editorial board as “nutters.”