Highlights and Lowlights From the Gitmo Hearnings

Poor word choice and evasive talk was on full display at yesterday’s Gitmo hearings. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) issued gems like: “Guantanamo Bay would make a magnificent resort.” (Perhaps if he plans to take a trip to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, he can remember to bring Tom DeLay back some cigars.)

Later, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) found herself frustrated as she tried to question Gen. Thomas Huntington, one of the panelists, and gets mired in a game of semantics.

FEINSTEIN: Seven months in solitary confinement [as reported by Lt. Commander James Smith] doesn’t violate the Geneva Convention?”
HUNTINGTON: I wouldn’t call his condition solitary
FEINSTEIN: Would you call it isolation?
HUNTINGTON: I would call it segregation.

Is he using Plessy v. Ferguson to justify violating the Geneva Conventions? Now there’s one I hadn’t heard.

The room was aghast when this little rhetorical struggle ensued between General Huntington and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT):

LEAHY: How many detainees are there at Guantanamo Bay?
HUNTINGTON: That’s outside the scope of my responsibility I would suggest you ask the Secretary of Defense.

Ah, yes, our open-book source, Secretary Rumsfeld.

LEAHY: Are there any detainees from countries other than Afghanistan?
HUNTINGTON: That’s outside the scope of my responsibility said the General.

Yet, a mere two minutes later, when defending the decision not to return detainees to Afghanistan for trial, Huntington responded, “But we have 47 different countries represented at Guantanamo Bay.”

Hearings where the only folks heard from have a stake in defending behavior at Gitmo isn’t going to provide results. The only account of abuse yesterday was from Inspector General Glenn Fine reporting on, well, the Brooklyn Detention Center. Close, but definitely no Cuban cigar.

Read the rest on CampusProgress.

— Amy Schiller