Sunday, October 01, 2006

Mark Steyn travels to Gitmo

Mark Steyn went down to Gitmo and has written up his reflections. Can you imagine any other war when journalists, talk show hosts, and politicians were all taking trips to look at a detainee camp? Steyn's observations are enlightening.
I've visited several prisons in several countries over the years and never seen anything like this one. Granted, most of what I know about enemy detainee camps comes from what Rear Adm. Harry Harris, who runs Guantanamo, calls "bad movies and worse TV shows," and from a distance very little seems to have changed: the basic look -- barbed wire and watch towers -- would be recognizable to any World War II POWs. But, close up, pretty much everything else has been flushed down the toilet of history. Indeed, even the toilet has been flushed down the toilet of history: In the interests of cultural sensitivity, Gitmo cells were fitted with "Asian-style toilets," because "that's what the detainees prefer." Given that much of the matter that should be going down there ends up being flung over the guards, it seems that this sensitivity over choice of bathroom fixtures is not always appreciated. When visitors like yours truly swing by, the camp likes to serve them the same meal the prisoners get. This being Ramadan, Adm. Harris was particularly proud of the fresh-baked traditional pastries his team had made for the holy month. And he was right: The baklava was delicious. "Baklava" is said by some linguists to come from the Arabic for "nuts" -- and, indeed, in that sense this entire war can sometimes seem like one giant baklava. There was a film out earlier this year called ''The Road To Guantanamo,'' and the poster showed the usual emaciated prisoner hung by shackles against a dungeon wall. No doubt the actor in question did the full Robert De Niro and lost 40 pounds to get himself looking that cadaverous.

If they've got anything like that going on at the real Gitmo, they must be doing it behind the confectioner's sugar at the back of the pastry chef's cupboard. If you're hoping to hear about the old wooden chair under a bare lightbulb swinging on its cord, here's the reality: The detaineeare interrogated on either a La-Z-Boy recliner or a luxuriously upholstered sofa -- blue plush with gold piping.
Steyn is particularly struck that we cater to the prisoners' prejudices by not having any of our infidel military actually touch the Korans that we give the prisoners. A Muslim translator is brought in to search the Korans for the weaponst that the prisoners sometimes hide there. Let's stop accepting their prejudices at face value.