Saturday, September 16, 2006

Richard Miniter: We Are Too Soft on Detainees
The high-minded critics who complain about torture are wrong. We are far too soft on these guys - and, as a result, aren't getting the valuable intelligence we need to save American lives.

The politically correct regulations are unbelievable. Detainees are entitled to a full eight hours sleep and can't be woken up for interrogations. They enjoy three meals and five prayers per day, without interruption. They are entitled to a minimum of two hours of outdoor recreation per day.

Interrogations are limited to four hours, usually running two - and (of course) are interrupted for prayers. One interrogator actually bakes cookies for detainees, while another serves them Subway or McDonald's sandwiches. Both are available on base. (Filet o' Fish is an al Qaeda favorite.)

Interrogations are not video or audio taped, perhaps to preserve detainee privacy.

Call it excessive compassion by a nation devoted to therapy, but it's dangerous. Adm. Harris admitted to me that a multi-cell al Qaeda network has developed in the camp. Military intelligence can't yet identify their leaders, but notes that they have cells for monitoring the movements and identities of guards and doctors, cells dedicated to training, others for making weapons and so on.

And they can make weapons from almost anything. Guards have been attacked with springs taken from inside faucets, broken fluorescent light bulbs and fan blades. Some are more elaborate. "These folks are MacGyvers," Harris said.

Other cells pass messages from leaders in one camp to followers in others. How? Detainees use the envelopes sent to them by their attorneys to pass messages. (Some 1,000 lawyers represent 440 prisoners, all on a pro bono basis, with more than 18,500 letters in and out of Gitmo in the past year.) Guards are not allowed to look inside these envelopes because of "attorney-client privilege" - even if they know the document inside is an Arabic-language note written by a prisoner to another prisoner and not a letter to or from a lawyer.

That's right: Accidentally or not, American lawyers are helping al Qaeda prisoners continue to plot.

There is little doubt what this note-passing and weapons-making is used for. The military recorded 3,232 incidents of detainee misconduct from July 2005 to August 2006 - an average of more than eight incidents per day. Some are nonviolent, but the tally includes coordinated attacks involving everything from throwing bodily fluids on guards (432 times) to 90 stabbings with homemade knives.

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