Thursday, June 23, 2005


MOST OVERREPORTED STORY: Richard Durbin declared that the extreme prisoner abuse that FBI agents have reported is taking place in Guantanamo Bay is the type of thing one would expect from a repressive regime and not the type of thing one would expect from the United States.

Yep, that's the heart of Richard Durbin's controversial statement. Kind of hard to believe that any thinking person could get worked up about it, isn't it?

Then again, you have to remember that President Bush's poll numbers have been plunging since the election -- and without the retired color-coded terror alert to distract us, the wingers desperately needed a faux-controversy to draw America's attention from Bush's failings.

But what was noteworthy to me wasn't the willful misrepresentation of what Durbin said, but the denial that the prisoners in Gitmo are abused any more than is necessary to win the war on terror.

For example, second-hand tough-guy John Kass asked:
Senator, weren't you one of those legitimately complaining that U.S. intelligence dropped the ball and something had to be done so it wouldn't happen again?

It is being done. Much of it isn't polite or civilized and some of it upsets me, like the abuse of the Koran. Suspects have been pushed around, hurt, and enemies have been given propaganda fodder. ***

And if you don't have the stomach for the work, please have the guts not to play partisan politics with what has to be done.

But what is "the work" that Kass is talking about? When he speaks of "what has to be done" is he talking about the extraction of information from the prisoners at Gitmo? If so, I direct Kass to his own paper's coverage of the Kevin Fox case.

After just 14 hours, Kevin Fox -- a citizen of the United States of America and subject to all the rights of the U.S. Constitution -- informed the authorities that he had personally committed one of the most horrible crimes imaginable. And he was no doubt treated much better than many of the prisoners being questioned in Guantanamo.

And so, knowing what we know about the utility of information extracted under coercive circumstances, what is the real intelligence value of any "information" extracted from prisoners abused in Gitmo?

Maybe we should ask Kevin Fox.

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