Shame, shame, shame on Helen Thomas.
The crusty ex-journalist-turned-White House heckler had only one thing on her mind when her favorite news stations, al Jazeera and Iraqi state TV, repeatedly broadcast those chilling pictures of scared American POWs and gleeful Iraqi soldiers hovering over dead American soldiers last weekend.
Thomas did not ask if the five Americans in captivity had been tortured or raped.
Thomas did not wonder whether the dead American soldiers had been wantonly executed in public by Saddam's thugs, who ambushed our men and women (yes, Helen, I said "our") in the city of Nasiriyah.
Thomas did not show the least bit of curiosity about the whereabouts of eight missing American soldiers caught in the attack.
And Thomas did not inquire about the well-being of any of the anguished families of these captured, missing and murdered American soldiers.
No, the question on Hellfire Helen Thomas's mind was:
What about the poor detainees at Guantanamo Bay?
At a March 24 White House briefing, Thomas smugly broached the topic of the America POWs with White House press secretary Ari Fleischer in order to harp on her favorite subject (i.e., blaming America):
Thomas: In terms of the pictures, the administration is upset because it is a violation of the Geneva Accords, you say, and I guess it is.
Fleischer: That's correct.
Thomas: Are we following the Geneva Accords in Iraq and Guantanamo?
Fleischer: . . . (W)e have always treated people humanely, consistent with international agreements. In the case of the battle, the fight in Iraq, there's no question that is being done in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.
Thomas: But how about the detainees in Guantanamo? They have no rights under the Geneva Accords?
Fleischer: As I just indicated, we always treat them humanely . . .
I admire Fleischer's super-human restraint in the face of this disgusting display of moral equivalence masquerading as journalism. Thomas sees pictures of dead American soldiers being molested by cackling Iraqi assassins, she sees video of dazed and wounded young American soldiers in captivity, and all she can do is harangue the Bush administration for not giving Guantanamo Bay terror detainees enough "rights"?
Let there be no doubt about where Helen Thomas's heart lies.
Since nothing the White House could say would convince her that the Guantanamo detainees are being treating humanely, maybe the testimony of freed detainees themselves will. It won't make a difference to hardened America-haters, of course, but let the truth be known:
Last weekend, 18 Afghans were released from detention in Cuba after 16 months of questioning in U.S. custody. They flew home and were held briefly in a Kabul jail. The Boston Globe reports that "nearly all of the former detainees enthusiastically praised the conditions at Guantanamo and expressed little bitterness about losing a year of their lives in captivity, saying they were treated better there than in three days in squalid cells in Kabul. None complained of torture during questioning or coerced confessions."
Sirajuddin, 24, a Kandahar taxi driver, said: ''The conditions were even better than our homes. We were given three meals a day -- eggs in the morning and meat twice a day; facilities to wash, and if we didn't wash, they'd wash us; and there was even entertainment with video games.''
"There is no need to lie," Sayed Abasin, 21, told the Chicago Tribune. "I'm telling you the facts. They treated us very well." His record from Cuba shows he was seen 37 times by the Gitmo medical staff, for everything from knee pain to sinusitis.
The freed detainees said they were allowed to pray five times daily, exercise, and were given books written in Pashtu. Upon their release, as parting gifts, the Afghan men received new shirts, jeans, tennis shoes and gym bags (to carry their Korans).
Now, human-rights crusaders, let's head back to Iraq.
The American POWs have already been subjected to intense public humiliation. They will be lucky if all they suffer is sinusitis. Military and intelligence officials report that some of the U.S. soldiers who raised their hands in surrender at Nasiriyah received only one parting gift: a bullet hole through the head.
Were our fellow Americans allowed to say their final prayers before their execution?
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