PORTSTEWART, NORTHERN IRELAND - Can one be simultaneously amused and profoundly irritated? One can by watching and reading the British media.
British television and the print press have their knickers in a twist over the triple suicide of terrorist suspects held at the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp in Cuba. Most "reporting" features conclusions and opinion that these men killed themselves out of "desperation" and loss of hope that they would ever get to "tell their stories."
This incident feeds nicely into the British media's line that the United States is evil, President Bush is evil and that the dead terrorist suspects were the moral equivalent of Japanese-Americans interned in the United States during World War II.
Much ink has been spilled denouncing a comment by Rear Admiral Harry Harris, the commander of the camp, who charged that the detainees committed "asymmetrical warfare against us" by taking their lives. Another U.S. official called the suicides a public relations stunt.
In a column for The Times of London, Libby Purves descends to the level of immoral equivalence when she writes, "'our' side can be just as blind." Her comment is about the terrorists and the negligible value they place on human life. I wonder why she put quote marks around "our"? Purves continues, "If we cling to any hope that we are different from murderers, we should not dismiss any human death as a PR stunt."
Apparently, Purves and others in the British media who are conducting a mostly one-sided campaign against the Iraq war and President Bush by interviewing mostly critics of U.S. policy, have not read the al-Qaida playbook or, if they have, don't believe it. The al-Qaida playbook promotes suicide as a warfare strategy. It is not seen as an act of desperation, but as a strategy to undermine Western resolve. The difference between these suicides and the ones regularly seen throughout the Middle East is that in the case of the Guantanamo three, only the bad guys died. In a "normal" suicide, innocent civilians are blown away along with most of the wedding party, cafe patrons, children on a school or public bus, or anyone else the murderers see as valuable to their perverted cause.
I watch Muslim leaders interviewed on television and listen to former Guantanamo detainees claim torture and inhumane conditions at the base. There is no rebuttal from any U.S. official and no challenge to their claims by any of the show hosts. Apparently, too many members of the British media have forgotten, or don't know, that al-Qaida training manuals teach deception. They draw on a frequent practice, if not a principle of Islam, which permits a Muslim to lie to an "infidel" for the "greater good" of the religion.
The London Daily Mail began a recent editorial titled "From the High Moral Ground to the Gutter" denouncing the suicides and the response by Admiral Harris: "With utter insensitivity to world opinion..." World opinion is not the standard for fighting wars, especially this war. And the worst American mistake is not even close to the beheadings and other deliberate inhumanities conducted by the islamofascists.
The Mail might wish to recall a profound remark by former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who once observed that we in the West make a mistake when we "transpose" our morality onto those who do not share it.
The detainees at Guantanamo are not innocent unfortunates swept up in an indiscriminate dragnet. These people were captured on the field of battle where they intended to kill Americans and Britons. As for the argument that they should face American courts, German prisoners were not tried in American courts during World War II. Third Reich leaders were tried before a military tribunal. A similar venue, not an American criminal court, should be the ultimate destination of these detainees.
One has only to look at the condition of the American court system with still too many liberal judges on the bench to realize that treating the Guantanamo detainees as lawbreakers, rather than enemy combatants, would result in the conviction of too few of them. Their release would put more Americans and Britons in jeopardy. When Palestinian terrorists have been released from Israeli prisons, some have returned to kill more Israeli civilians.
What would the British media say if a released Guantanamo detainee came to London and took out another subway train or bus, killing British citizens?
Our enemy knows our ways and intends to use them against us. The British media had better untwist its knickers and get its collective head on straight.
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