Earlier today, President Obama signed an executive order directing the closure of the U.S. military prison at Gitmo. Asked during a news conference for his reaction to the order, House Minority Leader John Boehner made it clear that he wasn’t even sure why anyone would want to close the prison in the first place. After all, he explained, the detainees there get “more comforts than a lot of Americans get”:
QUESTION: A lot of members of Congress on both sides of the aisle say that Guantanamo Bay has just given the United States a black eye on the world stage. Isn’t that part of the problem, too? [...]
BOEHNER: I don’t know that there’s a terrorist treated better anywhere in the world than what has happened at Guantanamo. It is — we have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to build a facility that has more comforts than a lot of Americans get.
Boehner has not been paying attention. Just last week, Susan Crawford, the top Bush administration official in charge of deciding whether to prosecute Gitmo detainees, revealed that she had concluded that Mohammed al-Qahtani was tortured by the U.S. military and consequently could not be prosecuted. As the Washington Post reported:
“For 160 days his only contact was with the interrogators,” said Crawford, who personally reviewed Qahtani’s interrogation records and other military documents. … Qahtani “was forced to wear a woman’s bra and had a thong placed on his head during the course of his interrogation” and “was told that his mother and sister were whores.” With a leash tied to his chains, he was led around the room “and forced to perform a series of dog tricks,” the report shows.
The Post also reported that al-Qahtani’s treatment was so extreme he had to be hospitalized twice and at one point his heart rate dropped to 35 beats per minute. In 2007, an FBI report found that detainees “were chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor for 18 hours or more, urinating and defecating on themselves.” Similarly, in 2004, the Red Cross reported “cruel, inhumane and degrading” treatment which was approaching “torture.”
Boehner’s conception of a Club Med-style prison camp at Gitmo is pure fantasy. He should spend less time listening to Rush Limbaugh and more time focusing on the actual realities of detainee treatment and abuse.