Thursday, January 15, 2009

Trained Murderers Treated Poorly, We're Shocked to Learn

Do you know what a muscle hijacker is? That's a young Muslim male, not necessarily that big, but bulked up from weightlifting, who's equipped with special training from Al Qaeda, a dull ache for his 72 virgins, and a boxcutter. And he’s perfectly at home with the idea of slicing the throat of a 120 lb. female flight attendant so that the terrified passengers hostage to him, and to his maniac partners in the cockpit, don’t do anything stupid the last few minutes before they’re incinerated:

According to KSM, [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] Abu Turab even had the trainees butcher a sheep and a camel with a knife to prepare to use knives during the
hijackings. The recruits learned to focus on storming the cockpit at the earliest opportunity when the doors first opened, and to worry about seizing control over the rest of the plane later. The operatives were taught about other kinds of attack as well, such as truck bombing, so that they would not be able to disclose the exact nature of their operation if they were caught. According to KSM, the muscle did not learn the full details-including the plan to hijack planes and fly them into buildings-before reaching the United States.
The 9/11 Commission Report, Ch. 7.3.

Mohammed al-Qahtani is a muscle hijacker. And he was anxious to do his part to slaughter a Barbara Olson, or a Charles F. “Chic” Burlingame III, and to make Todd Beamer or Jeremy Glick’s wives into widows. Al-Qahtani was the twentieth 9/11 hijacker, and the only thing that kept him from doing his part that day was an immigration agent who spotted him as hinky and sent him back to Dubai.

After al-Qahtani missed his big chance on 9/11, he skeedadled to Afghanistan to make jihad there, and got himself arrested in December 2001 and sent to Gitmo.

While there, he was identified as the “last member” of the 20-man hijacking team sent to attack us on 9/11. Al-Qahtani admitted he’d met bin Laden several times, had received terrorist training at AQ camps, could identify top AQ leaders, and had been sent by KSM to be a part of the 9/11 attack. Of absolutely no surprise to anyone, intelligence officials wanted to know everything he knew, and did what they could to get him in a talking mood. America still didn't know if we were going to get hit again.

At the New York Times, Reuters, the AP, and the Washington Post, they don’t like to use the term “muscle hijacker” when they describe al-Qahtani. They prefer “detainee,” maybe because it starts with a “D” and sounds more like “defendant,” as in, you have the right to remain silent.

The reports yesterday, originating with Bob Woodward at the Washington Post, describe how a “top Bush administration official. . . concluded” that the U.S. military tortured al-Qahtani. (“Detainee Tortured, Says U.S. Official”).

The official, Susan J. Crawford, is a retired judge appointed to review Guanantamo cases for prosecution.

The stories are misleading. Read them carefully enough and you can piece together that everything the interrogators did was legal at the time. Nor is it Crawford’s assignment either to act as a factfinder on issues of detainee treatment, nor to issue legal findings on what is or isn’t torture. (Andrew McCarthy explains this much better than I could here.)

Look at these stories and see how they try to lead the reader. Whaaa!, al Qahtani is only a “detainee” (not a fighter trained to slaughter innocent civilians). Whaaaa! Al Qahtani has been subjected to “degrading and abusive” interrogation (after it was learned he was inside with UBL and KSM only months after 9/11). Whaaaa!, he was told that his mother and sisters were “whores.” (He was trained to cut the throats of flight attendants and passengers). Whaaaa!, he was forced to wear a bra and had a thong placed on his head during interrogation. Whaaaa!, he was scared with a dog. He was even “hospitalized twice at Guantanamo with bradycardia, a condition in which the heart rate falls below 60 beats a minute and which in extreme cases can lead to heart failure and death. At one point Qahtani's heart rate dropped to 35 beats per minute, the record shows.”

Okay, I admit it. That’s pretty tough stuff.

Until you remember that the record also shows the heart rates of 3,000 victims of al Qahtani's friends dropped to zero beats per minute on the morning of 9/11.

I'd hate like hell to think cops were treating defendants this way. But I have no problem at all with out military and intelligence warriors getting busy with these sworn enemies of life.

Even Crawford gets this, though she’s too confused to know the difference between war and law enforcement:

"There's no doubt in my mind he would've been on one of those planes had he gained access to the country in August 2001," Crawford said of Qahtani, who remains detained at Guantanamo. "He's a muscle hijacker. . . . He's a very dangerous man. What do you do with him now if you don't charge him and try him? I would be hesitant to say, 'Let him go.' "

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