Thursday, July 07, 2005

Moral Equivalence, the Got-ya Media and Guantanamo

The string of hyped Gitmo stories in the media and Senator Richard Durbin’s (D, IL) recent non-apology for his comparing US military personnel in Guantanamo to Nazis and the like has finally got to me. I haven’t been very political in this blog but the outcry against the use of Gitmo as a detention center has me wondering about the critic motivations.

I can understand the opposition some people may have to the prolonged detention of the “detainees”. After all it has been years since 9/11 and I guess time is suppose to heal all wounds. Additionally Americans are a moral and just people and therefore would not violate a person’s basic rights. Why continue to keep the “detainees” locked up seems to be the argument.

Because they are NOT JUST “detainees” they are Al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners caught on the battlefield. If they did not directly assist in 9/11 they were a part of a network of hatred that perpetrated a series of terrorist acts against the United States and others in the western world. Left to their own means or worst yet sponsored by rouge states these terrorists would inflict even greater destruction on our citizens, economy and way of life. I am not saying to keep them indefinitely without cause, I’m saying we HAVE CAUSE. The problem as I see it is that as time passes people move on with their lives. The public finds it easier to forget the death and destruction inflected on us and begins to feel concern for “victims of our aggression”. The only exception is those who were directly effected by 9/11, their pain remains real. The press helps in this desensitizing of the public by first turning to neutral language, their no longer terrorists but detainees, and second by turning the terrorists into victims.

So goes the moral equivalence trap. Loud music, lack of sleep and uncomfortable conditions become torture not pressure. Prolonged detention becomes a gulag or death camp. The supplying of materials for worship becomes items of desecration and religious insult. Prompt and full investigations become suspect to a larger cover-up. When our government makes mistakes or things go wrong the mainstream media amplifies it to a point where it’s used against us around the world. Even when media allegations are proved untrue or dubious, no mind, we will have a semi-retraction in section C page 12 a week later. Or a Senator’s remarks that spark a backlash of protest turns to the non-apology apology of I’m sorry if I offended anyone. Sort of like calling someone an SOB and then saying, I’m sorry if you’re offended but I still think you’re an SOB, live with it.

I have yet to see any real evidence of prisoner abuse from Guantanamo, speculation followed by allegation and then media hyperventilation YES, but evidence NO.

I would not write about this unless I had a reason to feel that political gain against the current administration is the reason for the Gitmo hype. This type of misrepresentation of events hurts us all and particularly those who serve our country. For I know one such individual who has been to Guantanamo with the RI National Guard in support of the detention facility. This person is a co-worker who I respect and is now retired from the RI National Guard, let’s call him DB.

DB was deployed with the 43rd Military Police unit of RI National Guard in May of 2002, The first National Guard unit to go to Gitmo post 9/11. DB an Officer was at Gitmo for 6 months and was missed by his civilian co-workers. After DB returned to work I would ask him about his experiences and the type of prisoners at Gitmo. His answers were always straight forward and factual in manner. DB didn’t spin any tails of hardship or bravado like some do. The experiences expressed were always of professional conduct by the men he served with. The only negative he related to me was that many of the prisoners were truly evil people, an opinion I think most would concur with.

So when recent News reports speculated about abuse at Gitmo I would ask if he ever saw anything that could be interpreted that way. His answer was always a head shaking disbelief “No, I can’t believe that crap, I never saw anything even close to that”. DB is pretty soft spoken person who is the first to admit a mistake, so to me he’s 100% believable.

Only once did DB give me any details (I never really pushed anyway) about Gito. He said that the commanding General did a daily walkthrough of the facility, now that’s command oversight. He also said that all interrogations required three witnesses present and were video taped. Detailed Command oversight, taped interrogations and full access to the Red Cross it should be easy to find documented abuse evidence if there was any, but there isn’t.

What was one of DB’s jobs during his tour at Guantanamo in 2002? Ordering religious materials for the “Detainees”.

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