Monday, February 18, 2008
won't last long in a prison they call life:
In the midst of a Moe Tkacik post that covers your bases from Harold & Kumar to Kosovo's declaration of independence, there's a link to an AP interview with a Guantanamo interrogator. He's upset that that people think he's a torturer. In fact, he says, they just tortured a couple of people at Guantanamo and that was years ago and the people who are at Guantanamo now who were tortured were tortured before they even got to Guantanamo! Mom! Make Billy play fair!
"Everybody in the world believes that they know how we do what we do, and I have to endure it every time I turn around and somebody is making reference to waterboarding," [Paul] Rester said. He insisted that Guantanamo interrogators have had many successes using rapport-building and said that technique was the norm here.
Oh, the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune! Look, I went to Guantanamo Bay in 2005. (Link? Link? Huh? No, TNR archives, fuck you.) I saw the bolts in the floor in the interrogation chamber at Camp 5 where they short-shackled the detainees. The euphemistic Schmidt-Furlow report describes interrogators putting Mohammed al-Qatani in a room so cold for so long his heart malfunctioned. Then there's the simple, unassailable truth that detaining someone indefinitely without trial is itself torture. If there's injustice here, it's not being committed against Paul Rester.

Apropos of Yglesias's portrait of me as a globe-trotting collector of national-security anecdotes -- weird, that's what my business card says -- two things. One, during my Guantanamo trip, my press handler was this very dudely dude named Justin Behrens who spent the days implying that I was a traitor who asked impertinent and unfair questions and the nights (drunken nights) bellowing into the sea breeze that I was his boy because we've been to the same Montreal strip clubs. He went on to run for Congress as a Democrat in 2006.

Two, Guantanamo Bay has a gift shop. Sure, sure, allegedly it's a NEX, the Navy's equivalent of a PX. But you can buy Camp Delta (the detention facility) souvenirs for your friends there. A stuffed iguana that has "Guantanamo Bay" stitched on his left side currently guards my desk at the Indy. I also bought $100 worth of off-color Guantanamo Bay t-shirts, out of my own pocket, for TNR staffers but they still shitcanned me. I'm trying to work out another trip through the Pentagon to cover the KSM trial, so place your t-shirt orders now. May I recommend the JDOG (Joint Detention Operations Group) shirt, which features a snarling canine, much like the kind used on Iraqi detainees after Abu Ghraib was "Gitmo-ized"? Not that we torture!
--Spencer Ackerman