A reader has kindly forwarded us the unpublished letter to the editor of the New York Times by Assistant Secretary of Defense Dorrance Smith. The letter addresses the New York Times editorial “A sudden sense of urgency” (behind the TimesSelect wall). The Times editorial was also published in the International Herald Tribune and is accessible here. Assistant Secretary Smith responded to the editorial as follows:
September 7, 2006
Letter To The New York Times
To the Editor:
Your September 7, 2006 editorial, “A Sudden Sense of Urgency,” asserts that the recent transfer of 14 CIA prisoners means that “President Bush finally has some real terrorists in Guantánamo Bay.” This merits a correction.
Since its inception, terrorists that have been held at Guantánamo Bay have included personal bodyguards of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda recruiters, trainers, and facilitators. One notable individual held at Guantánamo was Mohamed al-Kahtani, believed to be the intended 20th hijacker on September 11th.
That many of these men are terrorists intent on doing America harm is not a simply an assertion made by the U.S. government, but something many detainees themselves have claimed, indeed boasted about. For example, in open commission hearings on March 1, Mr. Al Bahlul boasted five times that he was a member of Al Qaeda involved in an ongoing war against America. In open commission hearings on April 27, Mr. Al Sharbi said, “I’m going to make this easy for you guys: I’m proud of what I did and there isn’t any reason of hiding…I fought against the United States. I took up arms.”
It is unfortunate that one of America’s largest newspapers concludes these men are not “real terrorists.”
Dorrance Smith, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs
So much about the Times editorial is mistaken and misleading partisan garbage. Yet the Times’s rhetorical indulgence regarding “real terrorists” is indeed a disgrace that is compounded by the Times’s failure to print Assistant Secretary Smith’s letter.