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In Its Latest Spin On Guantanamo Bay, FOX News Says The Guards Are The Real Victims

Reported by Ellen - June 7, 2005

You have to give FOX News points for creativity in its never-ending efforts to flak for the Bush Administration. In the wake of a Pentagon report detailing incidents of US troops desecreating the Koran at Guantanamo, Amnesty International comparing the detention facility there to a "gulag," Senate hearings scheduled later this month on prisoner treatment, and Senator Joe Biden's calling for the facility to be shut down altogether, Big Story came up with an attempt at big distraction with a story called "Where's The Outrage?" about guard abuse.

Of course, it wasn't as important as Michael Jackson's jury deliberations but it did get four minutes near the end of the show. Suddenly, anonymous sources are OK again because John Gibson said "Two anonymous sources have talked to the Washington Times about being threatened and insulted daily. One guard said he nearly had his eye gauged out. Human rights groups are quick to attack Gitmo employees for how they treat prisoners but doesn't guard abuse deserve the same attention?"

I probably don't have to tell you the answer. On hand to lend credibility to the discussion was yet another FOX military analyst ready with all the GOP sympathy-evoking talking points and no overview of the other side, this time in the person of Retired Army Major General Bob Scales.

Scales told us that these guards there are not professional prison guards but young soldiers under an "enormous amount of pressure." "Many of these kids don't live a whole lot better than the prisoners do, other than the fact, of course, that they're not free." Then Scales went on to tell us that "The prisoners have a strategy to try to provoke the guards into violence - either to desecrate the Holy Koran or to strike out in some way and of course immediately that gets passed through the underground network to places like Al Jazeera where it's broadcast on middle eastern news programs almost immediately." Scales went on to say that "these kids" are assaulted verbally several times a day, every day, sometimes physically, and "for whatever reason, the news never seems to make the headlines." As he spoke, video of clean, serene-looking prisoners studying the Koran played on the screen.

Comment: While I'm sure our troops are under a horrific amount of pressure, maybe the hostility aimed at them from the prisoners is the result of their own awful conditions - being locked up indefinitely, without benefit of an attorney or even being charged, and being "harshly interrogated?"

Disdainfully, Gibson asked about the "big controversy" over whether or not we're running gulag.

Scales laughed and said "Trust me, this is not the gulag." He said this is just a giant PR war over the prisoners in order "to turn Gitmo, basically, into a political symbol." He said his sources tell him that the prisoners in Gitmo are "very, very, very bad people," not just people randomly scooped up in dragnets. Comment: Then why haven't they been charged and tried?

Scales said he had heard "second hand" of "a couple of incidents" of prisoners "trying to" attack guards and that the reasons the incidents have been few and not serious is "not because they're good people" but because the guards do such a good job of keeping them bound and "separted from their buddies" when taking them to an assembly or a doctor or a dentist. He added, "By the way they get full medical and dental care which is more than you can say for some of our citizens."

Comment: It never ceases to amaze me how the Bush Administration, the GOP and FOX News are able to turn themselves into victims at the drop of a polling point. For a group that preaches "ownership" and personal responsibility for everyone else, it's astounding how much of it they avoid for themselves.

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