I’m deeply troubled not only by the current enemy combatant hearings in Guantanamo, but by how they’re being reported by the media. Khaled Sheikh Mohammed has allegedly confessed to masterminding many of the most horrible terror plots of the past ten years. I use the term “allegedly” very deliberately for a number of important reasons. First, we don’t know what Mohammed really said. We only know what the Pentagon is telling us he said. They’ve released redacted transcripts which delete material which the agency doesn’t want known by the public. Like Mohammed’s torture while he was in a secret overseas prison. Warren Olney said today on his radio show that Mohammed was alleged to have survived the longest of any detainee during waterboarding: two and a half minutes. How in hell can anything this guy says be credited as reliable? You endure torture long enough you might say anything just to get it to end. Mohammed doesn’t have a lawyer, only a military “representative.” There are no journalists allowed in the actual hearing. So when it comes down to it–how do we know that any of this is real?
You may say that this is wild-eyed conspiracy theory stuff. But is it? I’m not saying that Mohammed isn’t a dangerous terrorist. But I am saying that the enemy combatant process is virtually guaranteeing that at some future point, when America comes to its senses, all of these “legal” proceedings might be thrown out as the equivalent of “poisoned fruit.” Every useful piece of information gotten from him during his interrogations which might incriminate him and guarantee him a life in prison might be invalidated by the Supreme Court. Bush is playing high stakes craps in these proceedings. And he’s proven to be an awful political gambler.
Finally, I want to return to my opening argument. The media should be extremely careful about how they report this story. There should NEVER be any definitive or declarative statements made that Mohammed (or any other defendant) has “confessed” or “admitted guilt.” Here are some examples of how NOT to report this story:
Confession at Guantánamo by 9/11 Mastermind May Aid Other Qaeda Defendants–NY Times
Al Qaeda Plotter Says He Was 9/11 Mastermind-MSNBC
Mohammed Confesses to Beheading Pearl–Boston Globe
Suspect Admits 31 Terror Plots–South London Press
Every statement made by or about the Guantanamo legal proceedings should be hedged with phrases like “alleged” and “supposed” or “the Pentagon claims…” If the media buys into the Pentagon’s rape of American justice and reports this as it would any other legal proceeding it may end up having egg on its face when it finds out what is behind the curtain of “confessions” like Mohammed’s. Remember Iraq WMD? Remember yellow cake uranium? Remember Iraq’s alleged involvement in 9/11? All turned out to be fictions. Much of what is happening now at Guantanamo MUST be taken with a heavy grain of salt until the Administration reverts to a more conventionally acceptable system of legal justice.