June 16, 2006

Pinch v. Pinch

Hatched by Sachi

In their righteous zeal to close down the Guantánamo Bay detainment camp, the New York Times ran an op-ed from a prisoner recently released from the camp, Mourad Benchellali:

I was released from the United States military's prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in July 2004. As I was about to board a plane that would take me home to France, the last detainee I saw was a young Yemeni. He was overwhelmed by emotion.

"In your country, Mourad, there are rights, human rights, and they mean something," he said. "In mine they mean nothing, and no one cares. So when you're free, don't forget what you've been through. Tell people that we are here."

(Tip of the hat to John Noonan at NewsBusters.)

Mourad Benchellali describes the despair, the incomprehension, and the torture he suffered at the hands of the Americans:

In Guantánamo, I did see some people for whom jihad is life itself, people whose minds are distorted by extremism and whose souls are full of hatred. But the huge majority of the faces I remember -- the ones that haunt my nights -- are of desperation, suffering, incomprehension turned into silent madness.

But the magnanimous fellow has not allowed his dreadful ordeal to poison his own mind. Like Ann Frank, in spite of everything, he still believes that Americans are really good at heart:

I am a quiet Muslim — I've never waged war, let alone an asymmetrical one. I wasn't anti-American before and, miraculously, I haven't become anti-American since.

So how exactly does Mr. Benchellali account for having ended up in Gitmo in the first place? He explains it all very poignantly:

I was seized by the Pakistani Army while having tea at a mosque shortly after I managed to cross the border. A few days later I was delivered to the United States Army: although I didn't know it at the time, I was now labeled an "enemy combatant." It did not matter that I was no one's enemy and had never been on a battlefield, let alone fought or aimed a weapon at anyone.

After two weeks in the American military base in Kandahar, Afghanistan, I was sent to Guantánamo, where I spent two and a half years. I cannot describe in just a few lines the suffering and the torture; but the worst aspect of being at the camp was the despair, the feeling that whatever you say, it will never make a difference.

Mr. Benchellali is correct when he says he cannot describe his torture in "just a few lines." Of course, he cannot seem to describe it in an entire New York Times op-ed, either, as he does not mention even a single instance of torture. Naturally, he has written a book; I'm sure that in the pages of the book, where he has a chance to spread himself, he describes all manner of horrible tortures he endured.

The first point of interest is that, although he begins by saying "I was released from the United States military's prison camp at Guantánamo Bay," what he actually means is that he was released into French custody -- for he is to stand trial in France for attending an al-Qaeda training camp, which he does not deny (he says he went there by mistake, tricked by his brother into thinking it was an Afghan Club Med or somesuch).

But there is an even more intriguing point about Mr. Benchellali. Consider these lines from a (somewhat) reputable news source:

When Chellali Benchellali moved to France 41 years ago his path seemed clear enough. Escaping the misery of his native Algeria, he hoped to get a job, marry, raise a family and blend into the French melting pot. [the French what?]

He got part way there. But for the last six months Mr. Benchellali has been in a high-security French prison along with his wife and two of his sons, all accused of helping to plot a chemical attack in the style of Al Qaeda in Europe. A third son has just been released from the American detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, one of four Frenchmen handed over to the French authorities this week.

The family's journey from yearning immigrants to alleged Islamic militants - accused of harboring a makeshift laboratory in their suburban Lyon apartment, where one son was said to have been trying to make biological and chemical bombs - is an extreme but still emblematic manifestation of a quiet crisis spreading through Europe's growing Arab underclass.

That's a rather strange concatenation of coincidence: same last name, and the Benchellali family has a son who just got out of Gitmo. But of course, it's no coincidence at all:

According to the police, Menad persuaded his youngest brother, Mourad, a high school dropout, to go with Nizar Sassi, a neighborhood friend, to Afghanistan for Qaeda training in 2001....

Meanwhile, American forces picked up Mourad and Nizar, either in Afghanistan or along the Pakistani border.

But that's not the half of it. The Benchellali famliy had been heavily into jihad for years before Mourad went to the al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan. The evidence against them -- much of which comes from the star witness, Mrs. Benchellali -- included the radical sermons Benchellali preached in his makeshift "mosque," his consorting with known jihadis, and the manufacture of "caustic chemicals" and bombs in his house:

In 1993, Mr. Benchellali began raising money and traveling to Bosnia to distribute food and clothing to besieged Muslims. On his fifth trip there, Croatian soldiers seized him and two other men from Vénissieux and held them in brutal conditions for five months.

He came back with even stronger religious convictions and began preaching in the ground-floor activity room of his apartment block. The room soon became known as the Abu Bakr mosque. His sermons took on an increasingly radical tone....

By the mid-1990's, with a civil war in full swing in Algeria, supporters of the violent Armed Islamic Group carried the battle to the Continent. The police say the Abu Bakr mosque became an occasional halfway house for members of the group passing through France.

Mourad's older brothers trafficked in false travel documents for Moslem extremists, and Hafed Benchellali robbed the payroll of his employer; all of this happened while Mourad still lived at home with them.

Thus, far from being a wide-eyed innocent boy picked up in Pakistan for attending an al-Qaeda training camp by mistake... in reality, Mourad Benchellali came from a family of hardened jihadis; he had contact with the Algerian Armed Islamic Group; his brothers were not only hard-core extremists but common criminals as well; and his brother Menad was cooking up biological and chemical weapons in his mother's coffeepot and on her ironing board:

A Vénissieux neighbor who had accompanied Menad to Georgia also told investigators that Menad had trained in ricin production while in Afghanistan and that he had been trying "to make chemical or bacteriological products to commit an attack," according to a transcript of the interrogation.

Mrs. Benchellali, in her early interrogations, told investigators, "I knew well that it was to make chemical bombs or something like that, but I didn't know the details."

And this is the background of the strapping lad who was tricked into thinking an al-Qaeda training camp was, as Mourad put it in his op-ed in the New York Times, "a dream vacation."

The New York Times did not see fit to tell its readers about any of this when it printed Mourad's opinion piece. But let's be charitable; perhaps the Times had no idea of Mourad Benchellali's background when they accepted his piece.

Besides, how sure are we really that the evidence against the Benchellali family quoted above is even accurate? I admitted the news publication was only somewhat reliable; perhaps the Times simply decided it wasn't well enough sourced to bother letting their readers know about it as they read Mourad Benchellali's damning denunciation of Guantánamo Bay.

So -- what was that questionable source, anyway? You're way ahead of me: it was none other than the July 31st, 2004 edition of the New York Times.

Arthur Ochs "Pinch" Sulzberger, jr. -- meet Arthur Ochs "Pinch" Sulzberger, jr.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, June 16, 2006, at the time of 11:58 PM

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» NY Times' "Innocent" Gitmo Detainee Comes From Family Jihadi Cell from Rhymes With Right
Over at Big Lizards, Sachi gives us some analysis of the op/ed piece by Mourad Benchellali, a former Gitmo detainee. Mourad Benchellali describes the despair, the incomprehension, and the torture he suffered at the hands of the Americans: In Guant�namo... [Read More]

Tracked on June 17, 2006 11:44 AM

» NY Times' "Innocent" Gitmo Detainee Comes From Family Jihadi Cell from Rhymes With Right
Over at Big Lizards, Sachi gives us some analysis of the op/ed piece by Mourad Benchellali, a former Gitmo detainee. Mourad Benchellali describes the despair, the incomprehension, and the torture he suffered at the hands of the Americans: In Guantnamo... [Read More]

Tracked on June 17, 2006 11:54 AM

» Submitted for Your Approval from Watcher of Weasels
First off...  any spambots reading this should immediately go here, here, here,  and here.  Die spambots, die!  And now...  here are all the links submitted by members of the Watcher's Council for this week's vote. Council link... [Read More]

Tracked on June 21, 2006 12:21 AM

» Submitted for Your Approval from Watcher of Weasels
First off...  any spambots reading this should immediately go here, here, here,  and here.  Die spambots, die!  And now...  here are all the links submitted by members of the Watcher's Council for this week's vote. Council link... [Read More]

Tracked on June 21, 2006 9:13 AM

» The Council Has Spoken! from Watcher of Weasels
First off...  any spambots reading this should immediately go here, here, here,  and here.  Die spambots, die!  And now...  the winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are The Iraqi Insurgency Has No Central... [Read More]

Tracked on June 23, 2006 12:37 AM

Comments

The following hissed in response by: Terrye

monkyboy:

You are the reason Bush is president. Your thinking represents the kind of mentality that makes people afraid to put Democrats in charge of national security. Plain and simple.

I tell you what, after you have demanded the return of Saddam and his rape rooms and acid vats to power in Iraq, just demand the immediate release of all those innocent people at Gitmo. After all I am sure that there was nothing special about those 500 people. Bush just had a yearning to lock up a few hundred Muslim extremists for the sheer nasty fun of it. And then after you have set them free, promise to be responsible for any acts of terrorism they commit. You know 'the not in my name crowd'? Well you can start the Hell yes in my name crowd. Release these people in my name. I want them out there right now, this minute, to hell with waiting for the Supreme Court and if they kill thousands of people...well what the hell how does that make them any worse than the average Marine. How is that? Sound like something your side might be able to live with?

The above hissed in response by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 17, 2006 3:15 AM

The following hissed in response by: Terrye

monkyboy:

You do not have the slightest idea what you are talking aobut. Nothing. You are just assuming that if Bush locked them up they must be innocent.You do not know why this man was taken and held or even why he was released or what the case is about him. Nothing. You are just smarting off.

What the hell, we could release them all, like we released Rasul kudayev who returned the favor by staging a terrorist attack in Natchik Russia which left 12 civilians dead, 24 Russian security forces dead, 91 Islamic jihadis dead and poor misunderstood unjustly accused Rasul in a Russian prison. Now where would you rather be? Gitmo or a Russian prison?

Let's see..... real torture in a Russian prison vs people yelling at you in Gitmo. Rats and nasty food in a Russian prison vs. warm tasty meals and your own Koran in Gitmo. Getting the hell beat out of you in a Russian prison, vs playing soccer at Gitmo.

There have been people released from Gitmo who did not want to leave. Why is it that they are just full of crap but the guys who say that Americans did horrid things like bring in women in thong underwear etc are to be believed without reservation or doubt? I got some swamp ground I would like to sell you. helluva buy.

The above hissed in response by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 17, 2006 3:56 AM

The following hissed in response by: Terrye

BTW, even if the Democrats take control of the House in November I doubt we will be seeing them throwing any going away parties for these guys.

The above hissed in response by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 17, 2006 4:25 AM

The following hissed in response by: Steelhand

Monkeyboy,

Your last post is absurd. Exactly what were the Russians and Chinese going to do when we threatened North Korea? Sit on their hands as we pushed a megalomaniac, who has shown a penchant for killing his own people, to detonate whatever he does have on his own country?

Any presure on N.K. has been much more subtle than mere threats.

And, BTW, the individual rights Jefferson was refering to were the rights of Americans, not those sworn to defeat us. We are in a war, whether you recognize it or not. And whether you like Bush or not, it is a war that we are winning. Did you happen to see this?

http://www.strategypage.com/qnd/iraq/articles/20060616.aspx

The above hissed in response by: Steelhand [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 17, 2006 5:34 AM

The following hissed in response by: MTF

Sometimes, people who have so much invested in their political passions lose all perspective, like Sulzberger has; he’s become a man who can't control his hatred of Bush and the Republican majority. Here's an instance where the Times has crossed a patriotic Rubicon, and taken up the cause of a convicted murderer, a terrorist, a paragon of the misogynist, gay-killing, politically and religiously intolerant caliphate-promoting "army of God", over the interests of ordinary law-abiding Americans. We can all just suck it up, the Times has spoken!

He seems to think this whole "Moslem terror thing" is just a hypothesis, not possibly real-- despite the evidence of the Trade Center itself, just 60 blocks south of his posh world of the upper west side gyms, mid-town restaurants, private schools, trophy wives, weekend houses in the Hamptons; all the accoutrements of inherited wealth and businesses. I can’t help but wonder how much more interesting and productive a life he might have led, if he had to work out his life without being saddled by the Times. One thing is for sure: he’d have a better sense of his own political self-interest!

Sulzberger has bet the family ranch on his unreasoning dislike of Bush: he’s an embarrassment to his family and his country. But, sadly, he’s not alone (witness the witless Monkeyboy types running around the internet). In fact, since he owns a bigger soapbox than most anyone else, Sulzberger has made himself into a kind of a poster boy of the age: a far less capable Cato, manipulating the news brazenly, obviously hoping he can by extension manipulate the political life of the country, fighting to preserve a view of himself and his country so twisted by unreasoning hate that he can't even articulate what exactly he would have done differently along the way, other than "not fight a war in Iraq". And, why is that? What is it about this war in Iraq exactly that would make a wealthy heir to a newspaper empire now rapidly being destroyed by his all-consuming war of words take up the battle in the first place? It’s the possibility Bush might be right; his vision might be a better one for the security of the country. Sulzberger’s afraid the Iraq war might actually change the middle east for the better and improve the security of the whole world. That’s what he so afraid of, and that’s why the Times is reduced to supporting terrorists and Islamofascist terror: success.

It’s a disgusting turn of events, he’s disgusting, the Times is disgusting. We ought to do him a favor: give him a free plane ride to a Somali Madrassa and a suicide vest. Have done with the unspeakable little traitor.

The above hissed in response by: MTF [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 17, 2006 6:04 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman

It is typical of some minds twisted by too much leftist thinking to believe that the PRC actually WANTS North Korea to have actual nuclear weapons.

What would be the repercusions? Well in short order, South Korea, Japan and maybe even Taiwan would be so armed.

Maybe that's why China replaced their border police with Combat Battalions?

PPS there is nothing in the article that claims this guy was imprisoned because he is related to terrorists, he is imprisoned for what HE himself did.

But the dumbing down of our educational system by politcal ideology has in some cases resulted in reading impairment, maybe those passages above which portray that were above his reading skills.

The above hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 17, 2006 6:56 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman

monkyboy:

You are the reason Bush is president. Your thinking represents the kind of mentality that makes people afraid to put Democrats in charge of national security. Plain and simple
***********************************************
I stand corrected we should not discourage monkyboy from speaking his mind, we should encourage him and others like it to continue to do so.

We need a few more seats on the SCOTUS

The above hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 17, 2006 7:00 AM

The following hissed in response by: Jim,MtnViewCA,USA

NY Times--it isn't dissent. They are on the other side.

The above hissed in response by: Jim,MtnViewCA,USA [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 17, 2006 7:10 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman

NY Times--it isn't dissent. They are on the other side.

The above hissed in response by: Jim,MtnViewCA,USA at June 17, 2006 07:10 AM
*************************************************
They have had that past history, the NYTs used its power and prestige not only to coverup what was at that time the largest example of genocide in the History of the World, but also to ruin the reputation and careers of any journalist trying to get the truth out.

I am speaking of the Holodomor Ukrainian genocide.

Their star reporter Walter Duranty was even given a Pulitzer for his articles.

It is reported that he was once asked how he could justify his actions if not as a human being then as a journalist, and he is said to have replied.

The deaths of a few tens of millions of peasants are of no consequence when compared to the future victory of the Revolution.

From Stalin, to Saddam the New York Times never met a sadistic oppresor they did not like.

The above hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 17, 2006 9:00 AM

The following hissed in response by: MTF

Two favorite themes I've observed here at biglizards blog, the absence among America's elites of that peculiar public virtue called patriotism and the Dixie Chicks, come together in this one mega-link: LGF link to Daily Telegraph story on Natalie Maines.

Citizens of the World, Unite! (please raise your well-manicured fist and look belligerent when saying these sacred words).

The above hissed in response by: MTF [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 17, 2006 9:12 AM

The following hissed in response by: Terrye

monkyboy:

You sad little man. The founding fathers hanged men for less than these darlin little terrorists have done.

In fact President Jefferson launched military attacks against Islamic pirates and their supporters for attacking our ships at sea.

Why do you think the song says " From the halls of Montezuman to the shores of Tripoli we will fight our country's battles on the land and on the sea."

The above hissed in response by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 17, 2006 11:33 AM

The following hissed in response by: SDN

Monkyboy, are you even remotely familiar with the military situation between North and South Korea? Here's a free clue, courtesy of the USAF members I've worked with for 20 years:

Seoul SK is a city of roughly 8 million. It is well within NK artillery range of the border. The military has located firing positions for roughly 15,000 artillery pieces within that range. It's sure it's located less than half of them. Based on the same reconnaissance, it's sure they have a minimum of three days ammunition at maximum firing rate, probably more.

Our troops are told that when the alert sounds, they have an average of 90 seconds to take cover before the shells (both conventional and chemical) start landing.

All the plans for dealing with this in time to save a large fraction of the civilians involve lots of tac nukes; guns dug into mountains take a lot of killing.

SO, poo-flinger, unless you are willing to sacrifice the city of Seoul, STFU.

The above hissed in response by: SDN [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 17, 2006 11:36 AM

The following hissed in response by: Rhymes With Right

I give up -- that trackback simply will not go through!

http://rhymeswithright.mu.nu/archives/182115.php

The above hissed in response by: Rhymes With Right [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 17, 2006 11:57 AM

The following hissed in response by: Sachi

RymesWithRight

Sorry about that. It was waiting for my action. I think it is OK now. Your track back went through.

The above hissed in response by: Sachi [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 17, 2006 1:32 PM

The following hissed in response by: DCM

Arthur Ochs "Pinch" Sulzberger, jr. is a posterboy for the Federal Estate Tax. I favor raising the exception to around $5 Million and then taking every penney over that. Why? Because this idiots like Pinch and Teddy Kennedy, etc. do not deserve to live off of the money their fathers made (or frequently stole). If they had to work for a living they wouldn't be riddled with guilt over their essential worthlessness and feel compelled to become liberal idiots and try to make the rest of atone for their sins.

The above hissed in response by: DCM [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 19, 2006 4:09 PM

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