Saturday, June 04, 2005

Like I said, there was no flushing involved

John Podhoretz may be one of the few people on the planet capable of swallowing whole the Pentagon's fabulous tale of urine and air vents and deciding that everything's just hunky-dory at Gitmo.

GITMO: DO THE MATH [John Podhoretz]

If the facility at Guantanamo Bay has a prisoner-to-prison-guard ratio anywhere near the ratio in the prison field in general, there is one guard for every five prisoners. That means, with some 600 prisoners, there are more than 100 prison guards, and that doesn't include however many interrogators there are. And surely, in the course of that time, there has been a guard rotation or two, which would suggest there have been several hundred guards and interrogators at work at Gitmo.

In the space of more than three years, according to the Pentagon, there are three confirmed incidents in which the Koran was desecrated, the worst being an occasion when it was kicked. The person who kicked the Koran was kicked out of Gitmo.

No Koran was stuffed in the toilet, as Newsweek had falsely alleged. Indeed, according to Pentagon investigators, there were 15 instances in which the Koran was defiled by Muslim prisoners.

What does this tell us? It tells us that, after these revelations, it would be profoundly dishonest for anyone to say that such conduct was either typical or condoned or part of the interrogation techniques used there. But many people will say precisely this, just as they will claim Newsweek was somehow vindicated because there was an incident in which urine splashed onto a Koran through an air vent. And you know why they will say it? Because, for various reasons -- from ideological hostility to the United States to a desire to keep themselves at a distance from the Bush administration -- they want to believe it.

I for one don't ever recall arguing that Koran abuse was "typical" or "condoned" at Gitmo; I was always just rather taken by the evidence pointing to the fact that it happened, and annoyed that the White House noise machine kept insisting it was bullshit. And wouldn't the Pentagon's explanations be a bit more credible if they came out quickly and admitted they had some fuckups who they shipped out pronto? Why stories about airvents and splashing? And why fess up after business hours on a Friday afternoon?


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