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Friday, May 27, 2005

What she said

Jeanne d'Arc, one of the new team of bloggers at This Modern World, writes about the latest Pentagon spin on the royal flush:
Here's the disturbing spin: The Pentagon isn't simply denying the allegations and leaving it at that. It's doing an interesting, and revealing bit of explanation:

Di Rita, the chief spokesman for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, said that U.S. military officials at Guantanamo Bay had recently found a separate record of the same allegation by the same detainee, and he was re-interviewed on May 14. "He did not corroborate his own allegation," Di Rita said.

Asked why he felt certain that this detainee did not affirm his allegation out of fear of retaliation, Di Rita said, "It's a judgment call, and I trust the judgment of the commanders more than I trust the judgment of Al Qaeda."

That snarky response plays well in a media that, as I was talking about a few days ago, doesn't accept anything until it comes from an official source, and gives those sources far more deference than they have earned. What kind of monster, after all, takes the word of a terrorist over that of America's finest and bravest?

The problem is, Di Rita's spin to cover up the original lie contains a new lie. Let's set aside, for a moment, the fact that some of our commanders have a few credibility issues, and just focus on the last part of Di Rita's statement. Does he have any real reason to believe the prisoner who charged that the Koran was abused was a member of Al Qaeda? Many of the "terrorists" America has seized in recent years have turned out to be innocent bystanders and even victims of vendettas. Some, like Dilawar, the young man who was beaten to death at Bagram in Afghanistan, were imprisoned for crimes that may have been committed by the people who turned them in. Others -- Omar Deghayes and Khaled el-Masri, for instance -- were victims of mistaken identity.
Obviously, di Rita has decided that, now that the story has been corroborated by the Red Cross, the FBI, and other news organizations besides Newsweek, the only audience he can possibly hope to convince is the domestic wingnuts and their enablers in Congress and the media. Pitting it as our glorious heroes in uniform against those smelly al Qaeda terrorists who caused 9/11 could only sell to those who really want to be deceived.

When you commit the monstrous crime of arresting hundreds of people, transporting them to the other side of the world, and holding them for years, mostly in secret, without representation and without charging them with anything, it is reasonable that people will believe that bad things are going on there. Probably the only reason this Koran-flushing allegation hasn't been proven is because of tighter controls on digital cameras at Gitmo than they had at Abu Ghraib.

The government continues to encroach on our personal privacy, figuring that if we aren't up to something bad than we have nothing to fear from them peaking in the windows. But this same government takes great offense when anyone suggests THEY may be up to something bad when they're hiding behind multiple layers of secrecy. It's all backwards--our privacy should at worst only be violated in the most extraordinary circumstances, while the government shouldn't have any privacy except in the most extraordinary circumstances, because they work for us.