Information Warfare: The Big Lie, Repeated, Works


January8, 2007: Several media outlets have been citing FBI documents claiming mistreatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay. However, these documents are the basis of what is really a big non-story. Why? Because the allegations of torture based on these documents have already been investigated by the Department of Defense (DOD) in 2005 and found to have no basis in fact.

The documents in question? They are the same FBI memos that formed the basis of Senator Richard Durbin's comparison of Guantanamo Bay to the actions of the Nazis and Khmer Rouge, and have been released in the course of a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Now for what the media and ACLU won't tell you. The DOD investigations in 2004 and 2005 turned up very few incidents of mistreatment, and those incidents that did occur were often dealt with on the spot. Three of the incidents - and the response to them - are worth noting. The first was an incident uncovered, during the investigation, of the allegations from FBI agents. A naval officer threatened the mother of one detainee, a violation of Article 134 the Uniform Code of Military Justice. That matter has been referred to the Naval Investigative Service for investigation. In a second incident, an inmate who was chanting, had duct tape placed over his mouth by MPs, at the direction of an interrogator concerned about a potential riot. The person responsible was verbally reprimanded by a JAG for this one-time incident. In the third incident, an interrogator who was spat on proceeded to smear some red ink on the detainee. She was verbally reprimanded on the spot as well. In the second two cases, the investigations recommended different punishment for the infractions, but it does not detract from the fact that the DOD acted on the spot.

As was the case when the original controversy broke in 2005, the media also failed to note two important facts. One is that at least a dozen of the detainees released from Guantanamo Bay are known to have re-joined al-Qaeda on the battlefield. One of these detainees, Rasul Kudayev, planned attacks in the Kabardino-Balkariya, in the Northern Caucasus that killed 45 people.

Other detainees, like Mohamed Qahtami (also spelled al Kahtami), suspected of being the 20th hijacker, were serious terrorists who had valuable information. Qahtami had held out against normal interrogation techniques over a period of eight months, and so permission was granted to use more aggressive techniques to get the information to engender a sense that resistance would be futile. They succeeded, and within two months, Qahtami was soon providing valuable intelligence on al Qaeda's plans for future operations, how it was organized, and how the organization supported operations.

The only thing these latest round of reports has done is to give the mainstream media a chance to rehash old allegations and make the Department of Defense look like it is stonewalling and refusing to investigate allegations of torture. The ACLU gets plenty of press, which it can later use for a fundraising drive and to get attention in general. The DOD will get no credit for defending the country, nor will they get any credit for dealing with the real abuses. Given that several detainees, most notably Kudayev, have returned to the fight, the results of the ACLU's lawsuit could have a negative impact on the civil liberties of innocent people. - Harold C. Hutchison (


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