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Published: Saturday, 6/18/2005

A slander on our troops

IN A speech on the Senate floor Tuesday, the assistant Democratic leader likened the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to Nazi, Soviet, and Cambodian concentration camps.

Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said some detainees were chained to the floor for long periods of time, subjected to uncomfortable extremes of temperature and forced to listen to loud rap music.

"If I read this to you and did not tell you it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe that this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets, in their gulags, or some other mad regime - Pol Pot or others - that had no concern for human beings," Senator Durbin said.

Time magazine obtained, and last weekend published, excerpts from the secret interrogation log of "Detainee 063," Mohammed al Qahtani, an intimate of Osama bin Laden who, it is thought, would have been the 20th hijacker had he not been denied entry into the United States in August, 2001. He was later captured in Afghanistan.

The log, Time said, "offers a rare glimpse into the darker reaches of intelligence gathering, in which teams that specialize in extracting information by almost any means match wits and wills with men who are trained to keep quiet at almost any cost."

Time detailed some of the nefarious methods used by U.S. interrogators to get Qahtani to talk. He was stripped naked. He was forced to stand for prolonged periods. He was deprived of sleep. Water was poured over his head. A female interrogator invaded his personal space. Sometimes interrogators would poke him in the chest with their fingers. And he was forced to listen to Christina Aguilera music.

Every American pilot or Special Forces soldier who has gone through SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) training has been treated far worse in mock prison camps than al Qatani and the others have been treated at Gitmo. Yet Amnesty International described Guantanamo Bay as the "gulag of our times."

There are some differences worth noting. About 9 million people died in Nazi concentration camps; 2.7 million in Soviet concentration camps, and about 1.7 million Cambodians (out of a population of 6 million) were killed by Pol Pot.

The number of detainees at Gitmo who have died is zero. The number of detainees who have suffered serious injuries at the hands of guards or interrogators is also zero.

There is one international organization with a legitimate beef about how the detainees are being treated: Weight Watchers.

The average weight gain among the prisoners at Guantanamo is 18 pounds, said a spokesman for the Joint Task Force there. This is because the detainees eat better than do U.S. soldiers in Iraq, says Rep. Duncan Hunter, the California Republican who is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

Gitmo is the first POW camp in history where prisoners gain weight. Some gulag.

Mr. Durbin and fellow Democratic senators Ted Kennedy, Joe Biden, and Patrick Leahy say Gitmo should be closed because it's giving America a black eye in world opinion.

Are they such weenies that they actually think having a finger poked in your chest is torture? Have they lost all moral sense, to make such outrageous comparisons?

Are liberals such fools as to imagine the detainees could be released without consequence? (A dozen of those released earlier have been recaptured or killed fighting again against America.)

What's giving America a black eye is the slander of our troops by Mr. Durbin, Amnesty, and others. Americans should be outraged, but not by the conduct of our soldiers.

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