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Politicizing Gitmo Demeans 9-11’s Casualities | The Conservative Soldier

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Politicizing Gitmo Demeans 9-11’s Casualities

May 11th, 2009 · No Comments

Even as it slips into certain oblivion, swept away by the undercurrents of financial obsolescence, long-term strategic negligence and societal change, the mainstream media continues its droning about the legal rights of America’s enemies, the evil intentions of the George Bush presidency and still, unconscionably, denies the threat to our way of life posed by radical Islamic jihadists, a.k.a., terrorists.

I don’t know what is diminishing more rapidly, the media’s credibility or its relevance.

A recent example is a lengthy profile in the May 10, 2009, Chicago Tribune Magazine. Like the Sunday newspaper into which it’s inserted weekly, the Trib magazine is a flimsy imitation of meaty, compelling Sunday journalism of a nearly forgotten era. In the latest Trib Mag, the cover story is heralded by an ominous black-and-white photograph of the frail hands of a faceless prisoner, accompanied by a grim headline, The Guantanamo labyrinth.

As expected, the inside piece is thousands upon thousands of words of condemnation of the Bush Administration, and apologies for the United States of America, masquerading as a “profile” of a “courageous lawyer” from Chicago, Candace Gorman. Thirteen paragraphs set up the deliberately (I suspect) buried, and highly flawed, premise of the piece by Tom Hundley.

“In the months after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the highest-ranking officials in the Bush administration … met in the White House and quietly agreed to override some of the basic provisions of the U.S. Constitution that protect individual rights. They also decided to disregard the Geneva Conventions and to sanction the use of torture …”.

We learn that her concern about unrepresented post 9-11 detainees in Guantanamo Bay inspired Ms. Gorman to shelve her modest law practice in order to devote her life to pro bono representation of two prisoners, one a Libyan, the other an Algerian.

Everything after paragraph 14 Ms. Gorman says about her clients’ cases, their treatment at Gitmo, their physical conditions and the series of events that led them to be taken prisoner by the United States and jailed as threats to our national security, is base solely on her visits (17) to Guantanamo and her interpretation of what is known about them.

The author’s objective is clear: vilify the United States and portray Ms. Gorman as an angelic legal professional who has swooped into Cuba to defend “innocent” men, hapless souls collected randomly by America’s anti-terror fishing nets. Apparently there was no attempt by the reporter or his editors to verify the accuracy of Ms. Gorman’s contentions. There is no dissenting voice anywhere in the article, no attempt to balance the accusation that Bush officials are war criminals with any credible challenge as to the innocence of Gorman’s clients.

She says they’re innocent, they say they’re innocent, so that’s that.

One was a shopkeeper who fled Libya and found himself living in Afghanistan (an odd place to flee to). He claims he was misidentified as an “Arab fighter” by bounty hunters craving U.S. cash rewards. The other prisoner, she says, is an Algerian auto mechanic who moved to Pakistan (another odd choice) to “look for a bride” and ended up residing in a “guest house” previously visited by an operative on the U.S. bad guys list. Eventually, she says, everyone in the guest house was arrested and hauled away.

There is a vague reference to “the head of the military tribunal” that reviewed the file of Gorman’s Libyan client and a finding by this unidentified person from “the military” that charges against the client are not supported by evidence. The Libyan is charged with being an Osama bin Laden body guard.

What kind of editor fails to go back to the reporter, the Tribune’s Hundley, and demand more specifics about this so-called tribunal and the identity of its head guy? Did he verify the tribunal’s report independently, or did he merely write in his notebook an assertion by Gorman that such a tribunal exists and that it blamed “hearsay” for landing the Libyan in Gitmo?

This level of detail in a potentially (or, intentionally) inflammatory piece of journalism is not merely a minimum requirement. The lack of supporting detail in this passage as well as numerous others throughout suggests a deliberate effort on the part of the Tribune to cast the United States, its military volunteers, and its elected officials, in the worst possible light. And to elevate the Gitmo detainees to “victim” status.

And it also tramples over the primary reason why 240+ individuals are detained inside the fences of Gitmo. On September 11, 2001, a long planned attack was carried out (view a new video by clicking on the link) successfully by fewer than two dozen soldiers of the radical jihadist forces trained and controlled by Osama bin Laden. They died while committing murderous acts against more than 3,000 innocent people that tragic morning, terrifying our nation and much of the world. But the web of support that made that horrific day come to pass is comprised of still very much alive radical terrorists, or their silent sympathizers, in countries all over the world, in safe houses and remote outposts. So when we have 241 or so suspects detained, we must keep them detained. War is hell. We did not start this war. If several innocent men and women end up detained and interrogated inadvertently, while unfortunate, we must accept that they are casualties of a war begun and engendered by radical jihadists, not President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney or other senior officials.

(This is why Cheney, to the dismay of the outraged left wing media, over the weekend on the CBS program Face The Nation said that the U.S. under Barack Hussein Obama is more vulnerable than at any time since 9-11).

How many innocent people were blown apart in an instant on 9-11? They, too, were casualties of war. The U.S. will ignore the War on Terror at its peril. Obama refuses to utter the phrase, but that is merely a tactic of his ongoing campaign to “remake” America. What matters is whether President Obama and his advisers — away from the bright lights of public scrutiny — actually recognize the threat to our way of life that has not gone away since 2001. The battle is waged beneath the radar. So if Obama wants to decry “torture” and Gitmo and all the rest to appease his liberal supporters, so be it. What matters is that the U.S. intelligence community and military remain vigilant, and that detainees remain under imprisonment, whether in Gitmo or elsewhere.

For every overzealous lawyer worried sick that the U.S. is picking on innocent “shopkeepers”, there are Americans from coast to coast who are just as worried that the U.S. will soften its resolve to combat terrorism. These Americans did not pass from this earth on 9-11, but part of them died that day. Soak in the words of 9-11 widow Debra Burlingame from her recent account in The Wall Street Journal of a meeting of 40 USS Cole and 9-11 family members with Obama last February:

“Glossing over the legal complexities, (Obama) gave a vague summary of the detainee cases and why he chose to suspend them, focusing mostly on the need for speed and finality. Many family members pressed for Guantanamo to remain open and for the military commissions to go forward. Mr. Obama allowed that the detention center had been unfairly confused with (the U.S. detention facility in Iraq known as) Abu Ghraib, but when asked why he wouldn’t rehabilitate its image rather than shut it down, he silently shrugged. Next question. … Given all the developments since our meeting with the president, it is now evident that his words to us bore no relation to his intended actions on national security policy and detainee issues.”

Don’t you wonder why a news organization would not be out looking for the story of a lawyer extending pro bono services to the widows and orphans of the 9-11 attacks? Would there be no “story” in an attorney’s compassion toward a person whose spouse, at work in a Manhattan office or on the way to a meeting in a Boeing 767, was incinerated by a wall of superheated jet fuel?

But what about the frail Libyan shopkeeper, you ask? He did not commandeer a commercial jet. But let’s say he was a “bag man”, or passed a message to a sub-operative for a little cash, or guarded a safe house for a few hours while al Qaeda planners held a meeting?

Even a bit player in the War on America is an enemy. Do you really think a man steeped in jihadist logic is going to admit to a “military tribunal” that he helped the bad guys as a driver or a runner during the 9-11 countdown? Meanwhile, is he going to avoid evoking sympathy from a Chicago lawyer who wants to set him free?

The reality is that if any suspect, an al Qaeda honcho or an accidental flunky, falls through the cracks and returns to the business of terror, his liberation can only empower thousands more who long to awaken to their own, glorious “9-11″.

Tags: Punditry · Stop Obama