Even though today is Talk like a Pirate Day, I’ve decided instead to be a shill for the U.S. military. Here are ten facts about Guantanamo that you may not be aware of if you get your news just from the mainstream media. This comes directly from the military and is dated Sept. 14th, 2006.

  1. The detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility include bin Laden’s bodyguards, bomb makers, terrorist trainers and facilitators, and other suspected terrorists.
  2. More money is spent on meals for detainees than on the U.S. troops stationed there. Detainees are offered up to 4,200 calories a day. The average weight gain per detainee is 20 pounds.
  3. The Muslim call to prayer sounds five times a day. Arrows point detainees toward the holy city of Mecca.
  4. Detainees receive medical, dental, psychiatric, and optometric care at U.S. taxpayers’ expense. In 2005, there were 35 teeth cleanings, 91 cavities filled, and 174 pairs of glasses issued.
  5. The International Committee of the Red Cross visits detainees at the facility every few months. More than 20,000 messages between detainees and their families have been exchanged.
  6. Recreation activities include basketball, volleyball, soccer, pingpong, and board games. High-top sneakers are provided.
  7. Departing detainees receive a Koran, a jean jacket, a white T-shirt, a pair of blue jeans, high-top sneakers, a gym bag of toiletries, and a pillow and blanket for the flight home.
  8. Entertainment includes Arabic language TV shows, including World Cup soccer games. The library has 3,500 volumes available in 13 languages — the most requested book is “Harry Potter.”
  9. Guantanamo is the most transparent detention facility in the history of warfare. The Joint Task Force has hosted more than 1,000 journalists from more than 40 countries.
  10. In 2005, Amnesty International stated that “the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay has become the gulag of our times.”

Let’s focus for a bit on the comparison between Guantanamo and the Soviet gulag. Here’s a paragraph from Wikipedia about the conditions in the gulag:

Extreme production quotas, malnutrition, harsh elements, inadequate housing, hygiene, and medical care, as well as brutal treatment by camp officials, guards, and fellow prisoners were the major reasons for high fatality rates, which in extreme cases could be as high as 80%.

And Gitmo is “the gulag of our times”? Oh, please!

Here’s something else worth considering. The media would have you believe that the “torture” that went on at Abu Ghraib was pandemic and widespread, indicative of the entire military force in Iraq, when they represented only a vanishingly small percentage of problem soldiers. Abu Ghraib has hit the news again recently with reports of torture, but now under Iraqi hands:

An independent witness who went into Abu Ghraib this week told The Sunday Telegraph that screams were coming from the cell blocks housing the terrorist suspects. Prisoners released from the jail this week spoke of routine torture of terrorism suspects and on Wednesday, 27 prisoners were hanged in the first mass execution since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Conditions in the rest of the jail were grim, with an overwhelming stench of excrement, prisoners crammed into cells for all but 20 minutes a day, food rations cut to just rice and water and no air conditioning.

Some of the small number of prisoners who remained in the jail after the Americans left said they had pleaded to go with their departing captors, rather than be left in the hands of Iraqi guards.

“The Americans were better than the Iraqis. They treated us better,” said Khalid Alaani, who was held on suspicion of involvement in Sunni terrorism.

Have you ever had a cavity in a tooth? Did the dentist drill it out and put in a filling, or did he chop off your head? And if you ever got a splinter in your hand, did you work it out carefully with tweezers or just remove your arm? Unless you were insane, you did only what you needed to fix the situation, but this wisdom doesn’t seem to apply when the media reports on the military.

If you haven’t heard the news already, some Marines in Iraq have been accused of killing 24 Iraqi civilians in the city of Haditha. Here are the first two paragraphs from this week’s Time magazine cover story:

The killings of 24 Iraqis one morning last November may mark a terrible turning point in America’s already shaky presence in Iraq

Like the Abu Ghraib prison scandal before it, what happened at Haditha threatens to become one of the war’s signature debacles, an alleged atrocity committed by a small group of service members that comes to symbolize the enterprise’s larger costs.

Notice how this story begins by painting the entire nation’s military personnel, based on the actions of a few. It’s like taking an axe to your leg to be rid of a hangnail. Assuming for the nonce that the Marines in question are actually guilty of intentionally murdering Iraqi civilians just for the thrill of it, the military investigation currently underway will uncover any wrongdoing and punish the guilty. It is not the media’s place to pre-judge the Marines as guilty, but they are doing exactly that. (Shouldn’t be all that surprising, really, since the people currently in the mainstream media are the same generation who spent the late ’60s and early ’70s spitting on returning soldiers and calling them “baby-killers.” They’ve had years of practice pre-judging the U.S. military.)

Now, assuming the Marines are completely innocent of the charges, what has the media done by dragging their story through the mud and pre-judging them as guilty? The media has successfully provided aid and comfort to the enemy, just like they did with their hyping of Abu Ghraib. Like throwing gas on a fire, these speculative news stories server to inflame the ire of those who hate America. Unlike the Marines, however, the media need never fear a court martial or other tribunal convened to punish their heedless actions.

I suggest patience, as I have done before. The truth will out. If there are guilty Marines, they will be punished. If they are innocent, they can return to their lives without having their good names dragged through mud and filth by an overzealous, anti-military media.

And that’s the appropriate response to these news reports.

Comedian Eddie Izzard does a fun bit about how the Church of England just isn’t as nasty as the Roman Catholic Church was back in the Inquisition days. Instead of threatening people with “confess or die” all the time, it would be more like “Tea and cake, or death?” and the people would get to choose.

“Cake or death?” That’s a pretty easy question. Anyone could answer that.

“Cake or death?”

“Eh, cake please.”

“Very well! Give him cake!”

“Oh, thanks very much. It’s very nice.”

“You! Cake or death?”

“Uh, cake for me, too, please.”

“Very well! Give him cake, too! We’re gonna run out of cake at this rate. You! Cake or death?”

“Uh, death, please. No, cake! Cake! Cake, sorry. Sorry…”

“You said death first, uh-uh, death first!”

“Well, I meant cake!”

“Oh, all right.”

You don’t have to be all that bright to figure out which would be better. Even if they are serving carrot cake, and it makes you break out in hives–is death preferable to hives?

Speaking of things that irritate, Alberto Gonzales is currently under the Senate’s microscope. Since the announced stepping down of John Ashcroft, Gonzales is President Bush’s nominee for the position of Attorney General. You would think that Senate Democrats, as the self-proclaimed champions of minorities everywhere, would be climbing all over themselves to praise Gonzales and support his nomination for this position. After all, he would be the first Hispanic to become Attorney General, and the Hispanic with the highest-level position in the executive branch of U.S. government. You would think the Democrats would be singing his praises, but you’d be wrong.

The Democrats dislike Gonzales because he isn’t one of their Hispanics. The dirty truth about Democrats is that they only love the minorities who follow Democrats and kowtow to their ideas. But once you leave the liberal plantation, you are a race-traitor and no longer considered a real minority. Look at Justice Clarence Thomas and Secretary of State nominee Condoleezza Rice. Neither one is considered by Democrats to be part of the black community because they are *gasp* Republicans. When President Bush nominated Miguel Estrada as the first Hispanic to sit on the Washington D.C. circuit court, the Democrats in the Senate never allowed Estrada’s nomination to be confirmed by vote. Why? Because he “wasn’t Latino enough” for them. Feel free to read that as “too conservative,” because that was exactly what they meant. Essentially, people are part of a cherished liberal minority if, and only if, those people also bow the knee to Democrat ideas. If they choose to think outside the liberal box, they are no longer part of the minority group. That is why people like Thomas and Rice are derogatorily referred to as “Oreos,” because Democrats think of them as black on the outside, but white on the inside. These Democrats think that being black, Hispanic, or any other minority means you must think, act, and vote with the group.

If that isn’t racism, what is?

So the Democrats will have a field day pointing their fingers at Gonzales, jumping on their high horses about the torture of al-Qaeda and Taliban prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison. You will hear just how shocked and awed the senators are that Gonzales inquired of the Justice Department just what constituted the torture of detainees. The Democrat senators are shocked, shocked that he would even ask such a question. Doesn’t it make sense that this is precisely the type of question that should have been asked regarding al-Qaeda and Taliban thugs? Well, not if you are a liberal. Expect to hear much about the Abu Ghraib excesses, and marvel as the Democrats try to lay the blame for these soldiers’ actions at Gonzales’ feet because he dared to ask the Justice Department, “So, what’s that law?”

Expect to hear much discussion about the Geneva Conventions regarding the treatment of prisoners of war. Mainly you will see the Democrat senators and their liberal allies in the mass media bemoaning the fact that we aren’t treating Islamist fanatics according to the rules of the Geneva Convention. It will make for a great sound bite, because the senators can sound so very concerned about the terrible treatment of the prisoners. These same prisoners, incidentally, would love to see these senators dead, but that probably won’t make the evening news. I find it interesting that the Democrat senators are choosing to stand in defense of al-Qaeda and Taliban prisoners. I guess their sworn oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” takes a back seat to their desire to stick it to President Bush and his nominee.

Incidentally, does the Geneva Convention cover these prisoners? Here’s the Cliff Notes version for the slow reader: no. First, to be bound by the Geneva Convention, both nation-states must be signatories to the treaties. When did al-Qaeda and the Taliban sign them? Why, bless my soul, they never did! Second, if a signatory violates the terms of the Geneva Convention–say, by using banned poisonous gases or hiding behind civilians–all constraints are off. The Islamist fanatics who have been fighting coalition forces are guilty of both these violations. Finally, to be viewed as a lawful soldier and merit the protections of same, the soldier must be dressed in uniform or bear some recognizable insignia. These fanatics do neither. Therefore they are not soldiers, but are considered unlawful combatants. If the U.S. wanted to do so, we could choose to execute on the spot any Islamist fighter captured by our soldiers; under the terms of the Geneva Convention, this execution would not be considered a war crime at all.

Most senators are lawyers, so none of this information should be news to them. Why, then, do they maintain this fiction? Quite simply, they would rather use the Gonzales nomination to bury a political hatchet in President Bush’s back than “support and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

So the Democrat senators are going to bring up the *gasp* torture *shock* that went on at Abu Ghraib and try to pin it on Gonzales (and, by implication, President Bush). But I wish that every time someone tried to bring up the “torture” of being leashed like a dog, forced to participate in a naked dog pile, or having panties placed on one’s head, a Republican senator would show the video clip of Nick Berg having his head sawn off with a large knife, to the accompaniment of the “Allahu Akbar” chorus. I cannot see how the two compare. When you get down to it, the stuff that went on in Abu Ghraib–while completely unacceptable–is about as disturbing as a standard frat hazing. When some fanatic does the Ginsu action on your neck, it is going to leave a more permanent mark.

If the Democrat senators cannot see the magnitude of difference between these two actions, either there is something seriously wrong with their judgment, or they are attempting to make political hay. Either way, it doesn’t reflect well on them. It’s pretty hard to miss the difference when offered a choice of “Cake or Death?”

The major news continues to be the photos depicting the acts of some American soldiers in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison. I am disturbed by these images since I do not think these acts are necessary, nor do I think they are acceptable. Are they just the pranks of some bored GIs? Or were these acts ordered by their superiors to break the will of the prisoners? I do not know.

But I have some questions.

  • Has the military been investigating these acts? Yes, it most certainly has been. So why the need to publicize the investigation now? What is gained by it? It makes the U.S. look horrible — that is the only way I can answer.
  • Were these investigations classified? Yes, they were. Will anyone be charged with leaking this classified information? Probably not, since the investigations have since been declassified.
  • Is it a crime to leak the facts of a criminal investigation in progress? Yes, it is. Will anyone be charged with leaking this information? Again, probably not. To put this in context, if I were to leak information about the rape trial of Kobe Bryant, I would be quickly charged.

Some Democrats, smelling blood in the water, and a few stupid Republicans are making political hay from these photos to call for the resignation, firing, or impeachment of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. President Bush has stood firm behind the Secretary of Defense, even while Rumsfeld has taken full responsibility for these acts happening under his watch. Does his taking responsibility mean he should step down? I would say no. Why not? We need not look further than the example of past Attorney General Janet Reno. When she took “full responsibility” for the deaths of the men, women, and children at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, she didn’t step down. And she was much more personally involved with the making of that tragedy than Secretary Rumsfeld has been with the prisoners in Abu Ghraib.

But today, everything is different.

Today, an appalling video of the beheading of an American hostage in Iraq at the hands of terrorists was released. On this tape, the masked thugs made their threats, pronounced their hatred for all things American, and proceeded to cut Nick Berg’s head off.

Fox News published the following today:

“Senators … are in a virtual state of shock about the beheading,” said Sen. John Warner, R-Va., recalling earlier concerns that the prisoner abuse could lead to retaliation against Americans.

Gen. Ronald L. Burgess told Warner “there has been an increase” in threats in the days since the prisoner abuse became known through the publication of photographs.

Earlier this month President Bush went on Arab television and apologized for the abuse. If I were President Bush, I would call a press conference today and rescind that apology, based on today’s video from Iraq. And while I am feeling particularly bloodthirsty today, I would like each of the thugs on today’s video hunted down and dispatched in precisely the same fashion that they brought death to Nick Berg.

While I have been upset over the prison abuse photos, I refuse to be upset anymore. Let me see if I can put the acts of these GIs in perspective with the acts of the followers of the “religion of peace:”

Religion of Peace U.S.
Being dipped feet-first into acid. Americans smiling behind a pyramid of naked, hooded Iraqis.
Having hands and feet macheted off, then allowed to bleed to death. A group of clothed but bound prisoners.
Tossed off multi-story buildings while bound hand and foot. Hooded and naked prisoner handcuffed to cell bars.
Dead bodies mutilated, burned, dragged through the streets and hung. Hooded prisoner standing on a box with hands wired together, but not connected to anything.
Beheading Daniel Pearl. Naked Iraqis bound together.
State-run rape rooms. Naked Iraqi with panties on his head.
Beheading Nick Berg. Simulated sex acts.
Being tossed into a wood-chipper. Iraqi on a leash.
Slamming two airliners into the World Trade Center. A naked dogpile.

They don’t really compare, do they?