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Camp Guantanamo

Reported by Ellen - July 1, 2005 -

Two Congressional representatives from Tennessee were on Holloway & Colmes last night to gush about the conditions at Guantanamo Bay. Despite the fact that Amnesty International and the International Red Cross have reported abuses there, both representatives had only glowing reports on the facility. It was another example of FOX News balance - a Democrat and Republican with the same opinion.

Hannnity sub Rich Lowry started the interview with a swipe at Democrats by asking Democrat Jim Cooper if Guantanamo Bay was really the gulag of our times, as Amnesty International alleged or anything reminiscent of Hitler or Stalin or Pol Pot as "Dick Durbin famously alleged."

Cooper said no, "It's a model detention camp. The food is good, the medical care is excellent, the living conditions are good. I wish that all detention camps around the world were nearly as good a quality as this one is."

Lowry asked if that's the case, then why are so many Democrats calling for it to be shut down. Here's how Cooper "defended" his party: "Remember there are some Republican senators there who called for the same thing. But the bottom line is, I think they're out of touch with the facts on the ground." Meanwhile, a video played of the congressional delegation touring a squeaky clean facility. Cooper continued, "This was the first real, large fact-finding delegation to go visit the facility (since it was put up three and a half years ago.)" Comment: Apparently the IIRC and Amnesty International visits - by professionals in the field - didn't count. Cooper said "They've gotten rid of Camp XRay and the new camps they've put up, Camps One through Five and Camp Delta are really outstanding models of a detention facility."

Lowry asked about a Time Magazine cover story about some "tough interrogation techniques that were temporarily approved by Don Rumsfeld to be applied to the guy that they think was the 20th hijacker. (Comment: So we know that whatever got dished out was deserved.) Are you at all uncomfortable with any of the mehtods that were used to try to extract information from the 20th hijacker?"

Of course he wasn't. Though he noted that he couldn't tell if the interrogation techniques had been softened for the visitors (duh!), he added that the temporary regulations that Rumsfeld used "were only in place for a few weeks." He repeated that the conditions were "darn good" and a "model for the rest of the world." The cases where "we did not do the right thing" are in the past and the troops are doing a great job now.

I could practically hear Alan Colmes chomping at the bit over this one. I know from listening to his radio show all these months that this is an issue he is particularly disturbed about and he made it clear he thought he was listening to a load of BS. Sounding incredulous, he asked, "Are we to believe that American Congresspeople are going to go down there and they're not going to put their best face forward? What are they going to do, serve you slop as opposed to noodles Jefferson? They going to show you attack dogs and people in extreme heat and extreme cold, bending thumbs back - all the things that the FBI report said happened? Of course they're gonna show you the very best they have to offer, right?"

Congresswoman Blackburn said "What you can do is talk to some of the men and women that are stationed there."

Colmes (even more incredulous): They're going to defend what they do.

Blackburn said she has talked to Tennesseans stationed there and that there have only been 10 cases of misconduct. "I think that that speaks very well for our men and women."

Colmes brought up the Red Cross report, the FBI report that dogs were used to intimidate, "having people sit in their own feces and urine for 18-24 hours..."

As he spoke, we saw video footage of a clean cell with bottled water, folded linens, flip-flops, checkers and a chess game on a table.

Blackburn said that our military men and women get "body fluids slung over them every day."

Colmes: Are you defending these charges? ...Are you defending that as being OK?

Blackburn said no, she is defending our troops doing a good job. She said we know (her emphasis) these are enemy combatants who are part of the Taliban and belong to terrorist organizations.

Colmes said no, we don't know that because the detainees don't have due process or rights to an attorney.

Blackburn insisted we do know because there have been administrative reviews.

Colmes: Every one of them?

Blackburn: Yes

Colmes: Do they have attorneys?

Blackburn: Yes, 153 of them have attorneys.

Colmes: What about the others?

She didn't answer that, other than to say there have been four administrative reviews (whatever that means). "Everybody that is there has been deemed to be an enemy combatant. It means they want to kill Americans and that those that we have released..." she showed a photo of someone released who "went back to fighting our people and trying to kill Americans."

Colmes then turned to Cooper, who sat silently and, presumably, in agreement while Blackburn talked about assuming guilt and indefinite detainment of people who have not been tried. Colmes said he didn't deny that the US troops are doing a great job but that he's talking about the policy the troops have to follow including the torture memo put out by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales when he was White House attorney. "Are you as sanguine as Congresswoman Blackburn about how wonderful these people are being treated and how the due process has worked at Guantanamo?"

Sadly, Cooper said that people confuse Guantanamo with Abu Ghraib, when they are "literally half a world apart. The conditions at Guantanamo are excellent, considering it's a detention camp," that the Supreme Court has ruled the detainees do have habeas corpus rights and that "they do have the right to at least petition to get out of their condition... We're only two or three years into this. The war on terror is a completely new experience. We're all learning as we go along."

Lowry, obviously pleased, wrapped it up by saying, "You're exactly right, Congressman. Thanks to both of you for coming here and telling the truth about Gitmo. You've done the state of Tennessee proud tonight."

Shame on them.