Of course, the Left was equally unpersuaded, and likely repulsed by Vice President Cheney's assurances that Gitmo detainees "have been well-treated, humanely and decently." They bristled at President Bush's characterization of the report as "absurd" and his assertion that "people who hate America" were behind it.
Enter Thomas Friedman, whose May 27 column begins, "Shut it down. Just shut it down. I am talking about the war-on-terrorism POW camp at Guantanamo Bay. Just shut it down and then plow it under."
Friedman conspicuously avoids mentioning the Amnesty International report in his column. Instead he cites the British, Australian, Canadian and German media. They are all talking about American mistreatment of prisoners, he claims. And they're our allies, he says -- as if the media in those countries love us.
It's obvious that Friedman instinctively believes the terrorists over the military that we are indeed systematically torturing prisoners.
But the thrust of Friedman's argument is not the veracity of the reports of torture, but their "toxic effect on us -- inflaming sentiments against the U.S. all over the world and providing recruitment energy on the Internet for those who would do us ill."
Friedman says we should put on trial the prisoners we have evidence against and "then simply let the rest go home or to a third country." Some may come back to "haunt us" he admits, but "I would rather have a few more bad guys roaming the world than a whole new generation."
But, Tom, the terrorists don't need more fodder for recruitment purposes. They have plenty of ammo to generate hatred apart from spreading false stories about us. But assuming your analysis is correct, wouldn't your energy be better spent in turning it back on your comrades in the media?
If anti-American stories -- whether true or not -- are what stir up Arab sentiment against us, then why no outrage at Newsweek for stoking the flames of hatred among Muslims against us? Why no horror at the Left's constant depiction of President Bush as deliberately fabricating our reasons for attacking Iraq?
Friedman, like many of his colleagues on the Left, simply believe that we can talk and behave ourselves out of this war, if we can just prove to terrorists and the rest of the world that we are nice and peaceful people.
Thank God these appeasers aren't running the War on Terror. And God help us if they ever do.