Obama v. Cheney on Guantanamo, Prosecutions, Torture

President Barack Obama on 60 Minutes Sunday night:

‘ Commenting on former Vice President Dick Cheney’s recent assertion that the closure of Guantanamo will make America more vulnerable to attack, Obama said, “I fundamentally disagree with Dick Cheney. Not surprisingly. You know, I think that Vice President Cheney has been at the head of a movement whose notion is somehow that we can’t reconcile our core values, our Constitution, our belief that we don’t torture, with our national security interests. I think he’s drawing the wrong lesson from history.”

“The facts don’t bear him out. I think he is, that attitude, that philosophy has done incredible damage to our image and position in the world. I mean, the fact of the matter is after all these years how many convictions actually came out of Guantanamo? How many terrorists have actually been brought to justice under the philosophy that is being promoted by Vice President Cheney? It hasn’t made us safer. What it has been is a great advertisement for anti-American sentiment. Which means that there is constant effective recruitment of Arab fighters and Muslim fighters against U.S. interests all around the world.” ‘

Just to give President Obama some support here.

Dan Eggen and Julie Tate of the Washington Post wrote as far back as 2005 that the 400 terrorism convictions boasted of by Bush at that time were mostly bogus:

‘An analysis of the Justice Department’s own list of terrorism prosecutions by The Washington Post shows that 39 people — not 200, as officials have implied — were convicted of crimes related to terrorism or national security.

Most of the others were convicted of relatively minor crimes such as making false statements and violating immigration law — and had nothing to do with terrorism, the analysis shows. For the entire list, the median sentence was just 11 months.

Taken as a whole, the data indicate that the government’s effort to identify terrorists in the United States has been less successful than authorities have often suggested. The statistics provide little support for the contention that authorities have discovered and prosecuted hundreds of terrorists here. Except for a small number of well-known cases — such as truck driver Iyman Faris, who sought to take down the Brooklyn Bridge — few of those arrested appear to have been involved in active plots inside the United States.

Among all the people charged as a result of terrorism probes in the three years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, The Post found no demonstrated connection to terrorism or terrorist groups for 180 of them.

Just one in nine individuals on the list had an alleged connection to the al Qaeda terrorist network and only 14 people convicted of terrorism-related crimes — including Faris and convicted Sept. 11 plotter Zacarias Moussaoui — have clear links to the group. Many more cases involve Colombian drug cartels, supporters of the Palestinian cause, Rwandan war criminals or others with no apparent ties to al Qaeda or its leader, Osama bin Laden.’

That’s right, as of four years after September 11, Bush-Cheney had convicted exactly 14 members of al-Qaeda. But wait, there is more.

Several of them were convicted for planning attacks overseas. As of a year and a half ago, only 4 al-Qaeda-related individuals had been convicted for planning attacks inside the US. Of those, Zacharias Moussawi and Richard Reid came from abroad for the operation. There is no evidence of any significant radical activity among American Muslims.

As for the ways in which Bush-Cheney blackened the US reputation in the Muslim world, the Pew Global Attitudes surveys are eloquent. In 2001-2007, Bush brought the favorability rating of the US among Turks from 52 percent down to 9 percent. He brought the rating among Indonesians (that is the largest Muslim country in the world) from 75 percent under Clinton to 29 percent. Those polls don’t just show a plummeting favorability rating. They show anger with the United States among Muslim publics, and anger is easily played upon by radicals seeking recruits to terrorist operations.

Former aide to Colin Powell Lawrence Wilkerson pointed to how poorly the Guantanamo captives from the battlefields of Afghanistan were vetted, and large numbers appear to have been sold to the US by the Taliban themselves. I happen to know that a few Iraqi Shiites who had fled from Saddam and were hiding out in Afghanistan got caught up in Cheney’s dragnet and were sent to Guantanamo. Hint: there are no Shiite al-Qaeda; al-Qaeda kills Shiites.

Major “Matthew Alexander”, who played a major role in taking out Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, told Harpers’s:

‘I listened time and time again to foreign fighters, and Sunni Iraqis, state that the number one reason they had decided to pick up arms and join Al Qaeda was the abuses at Abu Ghraib and the authorized torture and abuse at Guantánamo Bay. My team of interrogators knew that we would become Al Qaeda’s best recruiters if we resorted to torture.’

Here is one of the more experienced and successful counter-terrorism officials in the US military. He backs up what Obama just said, and contradicts Cheney from personal experience.

It is worth asking how many US soldiers died or were wounded at the hands of ordinary Sunni Arabs who would have been at their day jobs if they hadn’t been enraged by the Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo torture. In short, how many US soldiers did Cheney personally murder?

Not to mention all his other accomplishments in Iraq.

End/ (Not Continued)

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