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FOX Does the Prison Torture Story

Reported by Ellen - December 4, 2004

Let's start with the good news. Last night, the important story of US mistreatment of Guantanamo Bay detainees was covered with reasonable depth and balance on Alan Colmes' radio show, FOX News Live with Alan Colmes. Predictably, however, one of the guests was an enthusiastic defender of torture and eager to demonize the detainees. Not surprisingly, the ensuing shouting match shed more heat than light.

The two guests for the segment were Ron Daniels, Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, and FOX regular Wayne Simmons, ex-CIA agent. Before long, Simmons and Colmes were going at it and Mr. Daniels got a few points in in-between.

If I didn't know them better, I might think that FOX would want someone reasonable, balanced and thoughtful to bolster the US position here but no. Instead, we got another ranting hawk in the person of Mr. Simmons, a man who practically said he loves the smell of torture in the morning.

"My position is I know these animals," Simmons said, "and I want to use every means possible, Alan, to protect this country."

"Are we safer because we sexually humiliate people, because we beat them, because we freeze them, because we overheat them, because we physically abuse them?" Colmes asked.

"Damn right we are."

Simmons clung to his argument despite the fact that several military people called in to disagree, despite the fact that it was pointed out to him that many of the detainees were shown to be entirely innocent, and despite the fact that the harsh treatment complained about by the International Red Cross was a violation of the Geneva Conventions. "Would you like us to disregard that?" Colmes asked after reading a section from the Third Geneva Convention.

"Absolutely," Simmons said emphatically. "They have no rights under the Geneva Conventions. They are not military combatants."

In other words, in Simmons' mind, it's OK to torture people because it's not illegal to do so. Actually, according to Mr. Daniels, the US is a signator to the Conventions and it IS illegal for us to do that. Besides that, the detainees were rounded up "willy-nilly without any probably cause or articulable suspicion," Mr. Daniels pointed out, before being interrupted by Colmes who moved on from that significant point that Simmons never disagreed with.

Colmes then turned to the allegation by the International Red Cross that the US used medical personnel to help interrogators get information, such as having doctors tell interrogators what a prisoner's physical or mental vulnerabilities might be. Colmes called it "a flagrant violation of medical ethics."

Simmons said the tactic was "brilliant. Are we forgetting that this is the enemy? That these are the people who are chopping heads off on videotape?"

Comment: This kind of talk makes me want to cry for my country, for having come to this. The September 11 hijackers attacked us horribly but in my view what we have done to ourselves and others since then is just as great a tragedy, if not greater. What has happened to our media since then is also part of the tragedy.

The only note of hope in this segment was that most of the callers, including a few military members, condemned the treatment and Simmons' point of view. Charles in San Diego, who said he has been in the military for 10 years, summed it up thusly. "This man, he's acting like it's playground rules. They did it to us so that we get to do it to them. Or he's not really in our school so we can go and do whatever."

"Guys like me are out here trying to protect this country," Simmons, the RETIRED CIA operative said to the CURRENTLY SERVING military man.

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